"Big Four" Highlights


Family of the Year

Oregon family honored by Knights

Paul Nowak (holding framed image of the Holy Family), his wife, Michelle, and 10 of their 13 children, and one grandchild, are shown at the Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention. With them are Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and his wife, Dorian; Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori; present and past Oregon state deputies and their wives; and priests from Oregon.

For Paul Nowak, a key to life is service to others without expecting recognition or reward. This viewpoint led him to join the military and become a Green Beret. It also inspired him to join the Knights of Columbus as a young man and to serve as grand knight of three different councils over the years.

“You should do your service as Christ said, not letting your right hand know what your left hand is doing, and not looking for a reward,” he said.

Nowak and his wife, Michelle, have instilled a strong commitment to service in their 13 children, who range in age from 27 to 6. Three of them are active military personnel. All of them have been involved in Knights of Columbus events such as fundraising breakfasts, culture-of-life activities, food drives, Habitat for Humanity builds, and parish gatherings. The eight sons of the family have a combined 50 years of service as altar boys and three of them still serve. Two of the older children assist with parish catechism classes. The teenagers are involved with the parish’s youth group. Four boys are on the county’s search-and-rescue team.

For their sense of service and commitment to helping at home, in the parish and in the community, the Nowaks of Lebanon, Oregon, were honored Aug. 3 as the International Family of the Year at the annual Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention, held in Toronto, Canada.

Paul has been a member of the Knights for 32 years and belongs to Lebanon Council 3184. He is a Fourth Degree member of Pope John XXIII Assembly in Corvallis, for which he serves as Faithful Comptroller, and is a ceremonial degree team member, initiating new members into the Order. He is also a lector at St. Edward parish in Lebanon.

“The Knights are all about service, that’s what I have found in all the councils I have been a part of,” he said. “When there’s something that needs to be done, the Knights step up to do it. No questions asked, no accolades expected. When I sign someone up for the Order, that’s what I tell them: you are here to serve.”

Michelle is a confirmation instructor and coordinates the Forty-Hour devotion for the parish. She also serves as treasurer for the local Catholic Daughters of America.

“They are very involved in the parish and very devout in their faith,” said Father Peter O’Brien, pastor of St. Edward parish.

A man dedicated to the charity, the first principle of the Knights of Columbus, Paul recently donated labor and materials from his concrete company to pour two foundations for Habitat for Humanity construction projects in the community.

One of the reasons he started his own company was to allow his children to work with him, he said. “I used to work at a job where I hardly ever got to spend time with my family,” he explained. “Now everyone helps out on the job in some way, and I can be with my children.”