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Together in Charity

Service is a family affair for Texas couple

By Gerald Korson

Stephen and Neysha Frontera and their young son received an uncommon trifecta of honors earlier this year for their dedicated service through St. Basil Council 4204 in Sugar Land, Texas.

During a recent meeting at the council hall across the street from St. Theresa’s Church, the Fronteras were named Family of the Month for January 2016. Not only that, but Neysha was elected Lady of the Month, and 4-year-old Anthony was named Youth of the Month.

The triple recognition stemmed from Stephen and Neysha’s commitment to charity, a virtue they seek to instill in their son. Whenever possible, Stephen’s work with the Knights of Columbus becomes an opportunity for family time.

For example, when Stephen planned the annual Free Throw Contest for youth, Neysha assisted with registration, and Anthony helped shag basketballs during the competition. Later that month, they again worked as a unit for the council, selling briskets for Super Bowl Sunday. Little Anthony persuaded two customers to place an order.

“Our family life is one of togetherness and fun, so we do as much together as we can,” Stephen said.

Involvement with the Knights of Columbus has helped the Fronteras show their son the value of volunteering and charity. What’s more, said Stephen, these opportunities help compensate for the time he spends away from the family attending council meetings and fulfilling his dual role as chancellor and membership director.

Overall, he noted, serving as a Knight “has strengthened my role as husband and father.” Neysha agreed that the Order has had a positive impact on the family.

“Being a member of the Knights gives Stephen the opportunity to serve his community,” she said. “I appreciate that there are opportunities to marry his interests in religion, family, sports and youth in such a unique way. I believe his participation in the Knights challenges him, and he meets those challenges head on.”

She is thankful, too, that Anthony “has a strong example of involved, Catholic men all around him,” she added. “It’s my hope that he will join the Squires and become a Knight when he is of age.”

Stephen’s mother was not Catholic, but his parents raised him in the faith, sending him to Catholic schools from first grade through college. His mother converted to Catholicism while he was attending St. Bonaventure University in upstate New York, about a five-hour drive from the family home in New Jersey.

Stephen and Neysha met in New Jersey, fell in love, married in 2011, and settled in Texas. It was through Neysha’s father – Dennis Marek, Past Grand Knight of St. Basil Council – that Stephen came to know and join the Knights.

The commitment to service of his father-in-law and other Knights impressed him the most. “I saw all of the charity works that they were doing, and it appealed to me,” Stephen said. When he finally completed his membership form, Dennis Marek was his proposer.

Neysha, of course, was long familiar with the Order. “My father has always been a Knight,” she said. “He was one before I was born, and is still very involved in his local council.”

She remembers spending many hours of her youth at the K of C hall and the church, as well as her own service as a state officer in the Junior Catholic Daughters of the Americas.

She believes growing up as the daughter of such a committed Knight taught her about service and prepared her for the role as a Knight’s wife.

She understands, too, how important it is for parents to become models of service for their children.

“I think the example of volunteerism and selflessness set by my parents played a vital role in who I am today,” she said. “Volunteering and helping others is my passion. I am hopeful that Stephen and I can instill these values and morals in our children, too!”

The plural “children” is significant: Stephen and Neysha are in the process of becoming foster parents with the option to adopt.

“We want to expand our family and give a less fortunate child the ability to live and grow with a loving family,” he said.

He and Neysha hope to raise Anthony and their future children to become responsible adults who live faithfully their Catholic faith and values – and witness to that faith through selfless service.

Gerald Korson, a veteran journalist in the Catholic press, writes from Indiana.