|The Szyperski family of St. Catherine Church in Columbia was honored earlier this year as the Tennessee Knights of Columbus Family of the Year. The Tennessee Immediate Past State Deputy John Park, far right, presents the award to the Szyperski family, from left, Kyle, Tracy, Walter, Kelsey and Kayla
The Szyperski family are fixtures at St. Catherine Church in Columbia, helping at Mass and numerous ministries and events sponsored by the parish and Knights of Columbus Council 7447.
It is the willingness to serve others in so many capacities that earned them the honor of being the Knights of Columbus Tennessee State Council’s Family of the Year.
The Szyperskis – Walter and his wife Tracy and their three children, Kayla, Kelsey and Kyle – will be among Knights of Columbus families from around the world who will be considered as the international order’s Family of the Year, and the winner will be announced at the upcoming Supreme Convention, Aug. 4-6 in Philadelphia.
The family’s list of involvements with Council 7447 and St. Catherine is extensive.
They have been parishioners at St. Catherine since 2007, and Walter has been a Knight in Council 7447 since 2009.
He recently served as his council’s deputy grand knight, and is a regular at activities sponsored by the council in the parish and the broader community in Columbia.
The Szyperskis say the most rewarding parts of being actively involved in church are spending time together as a family and giving back to others.
“As our kids have gotten older and have become college students and young adults, it’s become more difficult for us to spend time together. We’ve always been a very close and faithful Catholic family. So it’s very important for us to share our faith together and serve the church together. We enjoy being in each other’s company and we have a lot of fun helping out at church together,” Tracy said.
The Szyperski family participates in the councils’ parking crew, working community events such as the Maury County Fair and the Mule Day celebration every April to help raise funds for the council’s activities. They have helped at the Lenten fish fries the council hosts for the parish; a parish pancake breakfast, which is a fundraiser to support seminarians of the Diocese of Nashville; the annual Tootsie Roll Drive, which raises funds to support Special Olympics; and the council’s annual Super Bowl rib sale, which Tracy helps coordinate.
Tracy, Kayla and Kelsey coordinate the decorating of the parish social hall for the Knights’ annual Christmas dinner.
Walter represents the Knights at funerals through the year as part of the color guard, dressed in the familiar cape and chapeau of the Fourth Degree.
The Szyperskis are just as involved in the parish.
Tracy is a lector, Eucharistic Minister, parish council member, coordinator of the annual parish picnic, and an RCIA sponsor.
Daughter Kayla is a Eucharistic Minister, involved in the parish prison ministry, and assists with preparation for the parish picnic.
Son Kyle and youngest daughter Kelsey have also assisted their mother with preparation for the parish picnic. Kelsey is a Eucharistic Minister and involved in prison ministry alongside her mom and sister. Kyle helps his father with the pancake breakfast, has volunteered for the annual parish blood drive, and serves as an usher at Mass.
The entire family has also helped in various capacities with the parish’s annual Live Nativity at Christmas.
“The most rewarding part for all of us is getting to spread joy to other people and help others,” Kayla said. “Every time we show up to help out at the annual parish picnic or other events, everyone is so happy to see us there. And we love to give back to the community.”
In addition to their involvement in St. Catherine Church, the Szyperski family members have very busy personal lives. Walter travels for his job with IBM; Tracy works for an orthodontist. Kayla is a student at Nashville School of Law and also works at a law firm in Columbia. Kyle is a driver for Sherwin-Williams and Kelsey is a student at University of Tennessee at Knoxville, who also works at Infiniti of Cool Springs when she’s home from school.
With such busy lives, it helps that most of the church events they attend happen on the weekends. “As the kids were growing up, Walter and I made it clear to them that Sunday was always the most important day of the week,” Tracy said. “The faith has always been a priority to us as a family.”