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Knights of inspiration
Local individuals and councils are honored at the Knights of Columbus state convention.
For the Catholic Herald
COURTESY PHOTO
Jon Hochstein receives the Young Man of the Year award from Tommy Harger, Knight of Columbus state deputy, at the Knights’ state convention in Roanoke April 27.

The Knights of Columbus gave out numerous awards at their state convention in Roanoke April 27, including to individuals and councils in the Arlington Diocese.
Among the awardees were Jon Hochstein, Young Man of the Year; Robert J. Szerszynski, Knight of the Year; Father Herman J. Veger Council 5561 in Warrenton, Church Activity of the Year; St. Mary of Sorrows Council 8600 in Fairfax, Community Activity of the Year; and Father Maurice du Castillon Council 14755 in Washington, Va., Family Activity of the Year.
Young Man of the Year
Hochstein, this year’s Young Man of the Year, is a high school senior and parishioner of St. Theresa Church in Ashburn. He is an AP Scholar, ranked 27th in his class of 421 and carries a 4.3 GPA. He has been awarded the Harvard Club of Washington Book Award, was the 2011-12 Chemistry Student of the Year and has received a full scholarship to college where he intends to study biomedical engineering.
He has been a member of the National Honor Society since the fall of 2011, serving as vice president this year, manages a tutoring program of 150 tutors, and reads to elementary school students weekly. Hochstein also has survived congestive heart failure and Hodgkin lymphoma.
Knight of the Year
Robert J. Szerszynski has served as Grand Knight, Deputy Grand Knight, chancellor, warden, guard, advocate, treasurer, trustee, faithful navigator, faithful admiral, faithful captain and district warden for the John Paul I Council 7165 in Dale City. A Knight for more than 22 years, he is simultaneously serving in officer positions at his council, assembly and district and as a state program chairman. As Grand Knight, his council received the State Deputy Award and the State Program Award for Pro-Life Activities. Last year, he coordinated the statewide fundraising effort to replace 50 new flags and poles used at the March for Life in Washington. Szerszynski has served his parish communities for more than 20 years as usher and lector, and on the finance and the strategic planning committee.
The father of five children, Szerszynski has been married for more than 22 years. He has served in the U.S. Air Force and the Department of the Army for more than 37 years.
Church Activity of the Year
When the mother of Father James R. Gould, chaplain of Father Herman J. Veger Council 5561 in Warrenton, called to tell her son that no one was helping the people of Staten Island, N.Y., after Hurricane Sandy, and that he should, he rallied the Knights. The council moved 20 tons of goods to Staten Island, in spite of obstacles.
One hundred and five council members expended more than 850 hours, and 80 community volunteers showed up to sort and pack all the material for shipment to New York.
Community Activity of the Year
St. Mary of Sorrows Council 8600 in Fairfax began a Mariam Homes (see story on page 6) in 1996, with the mission to own and maintain group homes in Virginia for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The first home was purchased in 1998 and is the residence for five women who live in a family environment and receive full-time care. With the success of the first group home, a second home was purchased in 2011 for four men, and eventually a fifth man.
The fundraising initiatives have varied over the years. The council typically donates around $10,000 annually to the group home organization, which focuses on the quality of life of the residents.
Family Activity of the Year
In 2012, members of Father Maurice du Castillon Council 14755 in Washington, Va., led by their family chairman, organized and conducted a Fall Harvest Food Drive at their parish, asking the parishioners for donations of food items and cash. The result was a truck loaded with 1,126 pounds of canned and packaged food, $1,350 in cash and $100 in gift cards. The food, cash and gift cards were delivered to the area Catholic Charities food depot for distribution to a number of local food pantries.
But the 2012 effort was only a small part of this council’s Food for Families program. The larger, ongoing, project began in 2011 with council members participating in planning meetings with Catholic Charities to set up the food depot to serve as a distribution point to food pantries in six surrounding counties. The result of these meetings was the CHOW program, which stands for Christ House on Wheels. Since April 2012, council members have contributed more than 300 hours, using personal vehicles to drive more than 1,500 miles to deliver more than 25,000 pounds of food.

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