|Steve Comm, left, will succeed John Park as the state deputy of the Tennessee Knights of Columbus. Comm was elected during the annual state convention held May 1-3. Park’s two years as state deputy will officially end June 30. Photo by Andy Telli
John Park a parishioner at St. Edward Church in Nashville is ending his term as the leader of the Tennessee Knights of Columbus and will be succeeded by Steve Comm of Nashville.
Comm, who started with the Knights as a member of Council 8354 at St. Ignatius of Antioch Church in Nashville, was elected State Deputy at the annual state convention, held May 1-3 in Franklin.
His election left him with “a sense of humility, a sense of awe,” said Comm. “I have my work cut out for me. The previous state deputies have positioned the state where it’s going to be easier for me … because of their hard work and dedication.”
Comm moved to Nashville in 1988, and in 1997 converted to Catholicism. “I jumped in with both feet,” he said, serving as a catechist, youth choir director, lector and usher.
In 2003 he was asked to join the Knights and help revive the council at St. Ignatius, which had been dormant for more than 10 years. He eventually was elected grand knight of the council.
It was the Knights’ commitment to service that attracted Comm. “There had been a time prior to moving to Nashville when I felt I had not given back nearly as much as I had received in terms of blessings. I felt I owed God an awful lot.”
After serving in several state offices, he ran for and was elected state advocate in 2010. Since then he has moved through the state offices of state treasurer and state secretary and now the top spot as state deputy. “The higher up you get in the Knights of Columbus the more you’re serving,” Comm said. “You lead by service.”
During his term as state deputy, Comm wants to visit every council in Tennessee, if possible, he said, “to find out what their struggles are, what they’re doing well and share that.”
Comm hopes to attract more Catholic men to the Knights. “This is a time for young men who want to serve their Church to strengthen their Catholic identity by joining with us,” he said. .
Many men with young families don’t feel they have the time to devote to the Knights, Comm said. “We have to help them realize they don’t have to give up everything else. Even two hours a month would allow us to do so much more.”
Helping councils be more active so they can retain their members was one of Park’s priorities. “We have to keep the younger people involved and keep them coming back to the Church,” Park said.
The State Council saw some progress increasing membership during Park’s term. “The numbers are headed in the right direction,” Park said.
Park is a charter member of Council 9586 at St. Edward and served as grand knight. He then went on to serve as a District Deputy, overseeing the activities of several councils in the Nashville area. Later he served as administrative assistant to then State Deputy Marty O’Haver of Smyrna. Park was elected state warden in the spring of 2004 and began his journey through the state offices.
As state deputy, he and his wife, Polly, had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the state, making friends, he said. “I like to go out and talk to people and meet them, because I’ve never met a stranger.”
Other state officers elected were: Tracy Staller, state secretary, Council 12961, Holy Family Church, Seymour; Mike McCusker, state treasurer, Council 9317, St. Francis of Assisi Church, Cordova; Fred Laufenberg, state advocate, Council 8152, St. Francis of Assisi Church, Fairfield Glade; and Bill Markiewicz, state warden, Council 4572, St. Therese of Lisieux Church, Cleveland.