"Big Four" Highlights


Wyoming Family Honored

James and Stefanie Bell and their 10 children named Family of the Year

One of the most impressive traits of the members of this year’s Knights of Columbus International Family of the Year is their deep commitment to the culture of life. James and Stefanie Bell, married for 27 years, have 10 children, ranging in age from 2 to 24. Their names are: Ashlen, Hallie, Taylor, James, Kateri, Michaela, Cecilia, John and Felicity. Their son Matthias died at 3 days of age. All family members are active in St. Anthony of Padua parish, their community and the Knights of Columbus.

They were honored Aug. 6 at the K of C’s Supreme Convention in Orlando, Florida.

In 2005, as an alternative to an event sponsored by a local family planning organization, the Bells held a “Horton Hears a Who” culture of life event, with the theme “a person is a person, no matter how small.” This concept has caught on and become an annual event, attracting 400 attendees. James’ K of C unit, Bishop Maurice Burke Council 4031 in Cody, provides funding and logistical support for the event.

James, a Knight since 1995, was a key to his council’s efforts to form a Monastery Guild that created a greater awareness of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, a cloister dedicated to prayer that supports itself by selling Mystic Monk Coffee. He and his wife traveled to nine parishes last summer to make presentations on the guild’s work.

James and Stefanie led the campaign to raise funds to purchase an ultrasound machine for the Serenity Pregnancy Resource Center. In just three week, the campaign raised enough money to receive matching funds from the Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative.

James has chaired many other activities for his council, including a highway clean up and youth service committee. He also served as a Scout master, chaperoned Natural History Days at the local school system, was a youth basketball coach and sings in the parish’s choir.

Stefanie and another local mother started a group named “Mary’s Mom.” Their goal is to provide young mothers with moral support and help them build self-esteem. They begin meetings by praying the rosary and offering prayer petitions. They offer Bible study, marriage mentoring and support through difficult pregnancies and family deaths. In addition, James and Stefanie are parish marriage mentors, and have helped with youth pilgrimages to Rome.

In a letter endorsing the Bell family as the Wyoming State Council Family of the Year, State Chaplain Father Tom Ogg, said: “Their joyful, gentle, and dare I say simple example is clearly an ideal Christian witness to family life. They embody our Pope Francis’ life of simplicity, humility, and loving service.”