New Midshipmen Knights

Created: Feb 22, 2024
Category: General News

United States Naval Academy council nearly doubles in size with recent exemplification

By Cecilia Engbert



Seventeen midshipmen joined the Knights of Columbus council at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, during an exemplification ceremony Feb. 8, a significant step in the council’s revitalization since falling dormant during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new Knights have nearly doubled the council’s size, from 19 to 36 members.

Established in 2010, Commodore Barry Council 14534 — like many college councils — has experienced periods of growth and decline, but in the last few years it has thrived under the mentorship of retired Navy Capt. Joe McInerney. Now vice president of leadership and ethics for the Knights of Columbus, McInerney served in the Navy for 30 years and previously taught leadership at the Naval Academy.

He recognizes a cultural affinity between the Knights and the military that makes the Order appealing to many Catholic midshipmen.

“Mankind has been fighting warfare forever, but the knight is this idea that comes out of Christianity — to be ferocious in battle but a servant to others,” said McInerney, who is Council 14534’s financial secretary. “Men and women who go to the service academies are willing to sacrifice for something that’s good, and that’s exactly what the Knights asks of its members.”

Grand Knight Thomas Joseph said he joined the Knights as a second-year student because he wanted to commit to becoming a better man every day.

“It’s been a great way to find other Catholic men at the academy who want to grow in their faith together,” Joseph said. “It helps to keep us accountable to the values we believe in.”

As the council grows, the midshipmen are working to develop an active presence on campus. One of the council’s most successful activities has been a series of discussion forums focused on the Catholic intellectual tradition and how it applies to life in contemporary times. Members take turns presenting on an aspect of the faith that interests them, followed by an open discussion.

Service academy students have a more demanding schedule than most college students, but Joseph said the council’s evening meetings offer a welcome reset after the busyness of the day.

“People are willing to come because they have a good experience learning a new part of their faith,” he said. “It’s a great way to get centered.”

In the coming year and beyond, the Knights aim to grow their charitable work, including outreach to people experiencing homelessness. One of the council’s service projects has been making sandwiches for Light House, a homeless prevention support center in Annapolis.

“The council is continuing to grow, to focus on becoming more active in the local community,” McInerney said. “We are the hands and the feet and the muscle of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s time for us to start flexing that muscle so we can help others and start bringing others to faith in him.”


CECILIA ENGBERT is a content producer for the Knights of Columbus communications department.