Knights of Columbus state deputy serves and protects
For 30 years, Patrick Schuller has devoted his life to service, offering not just his time to his community but risking his life as a firefighter in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is also dedicated to the virtue of charity as a longtime member of the Knights of Columbus. After moving up the ranks in the Catholic fraternal Order, he was elected this year as State Deputy of Arizona.
Schuller has been married for 27 years to his wife, Nikki Lynn, and the couple has three daughters – Ashleigh, 24, who begins studies at Gonzaga Law School in August; Victoria, 20, who plans to follow her father into the firefighting profession, and Elisabeth, 14, who is entering her first year of Catholic high school.
Schuller spoke with Fathers for Good about his life of professional and fraternal service.
Fathers for Good: Did you grow up dreaming of becoming a fireman?
Schuller: Growing up, my neighbor was a firefighter. He was also one of the first paramedics in the state. He was a single dad and I would watch his kids while he was going through medic school. I like the schedule and the fact that every day is different. I was also raised in a house where service to your community was a common and everyday occurrence.
FFG: What are some of your best memories on the job?
Schuller: Recently I received a call from a Deputy Chief explaining that he had been sent a letter from a gentleman whose cousin, Chris, had died in the line of duty 12 years ago in New York. It was going to be Chris’ 40th birthday and his parents had moved to Scottsdale, where I work. They had planned a memorial Mass for this special day. When the parents were in New York, Chris’ dad had visited the gravesite weekly and visited his firehouse frequently, but after the move to Arizona he had lost the bond with the FDNY. Mario, the cousin who wrote the letter, was wondering if the Fire Dept. could send a couple of members for moral support for the family.
Chief Ford asked me if I could call the family. I did, and then after making a few calls I had rallied the 24 members who are retired from FDNY, some who actually worked with Chris or remembered the fire and the night he was killed. Along with a full Honor Guard Detail and seven members from a couple of neighboring cities Pipes and Drum bands, we all attended the memorial Mass.
The family had no idea that Chris’ 40th birthday would be a true Fire Dept. event. All Fire Dept. members had the same answer when asked: “This is what we do for each other; we are family.”
FFG: Tell us about your role as a trainer and teacher?
Schuller: Like most firefighters, with our schedule you have to keep busy on your days off. I used to train firefighters and rescue teams around the world. My students were from large industrial plants, fire brigades on cruise ships, small Fire Depts. and the military.
FFG: How does your membership in the Knights of Columbus shape your dedication to service?
Schuller: I have found that I more often notice people who might need assistance due to my career as a firefighter, and through the Knights I have more resources to assist some of them. The charitable works of the Knights of Columbus and service to your community are the same; one who is willing to help his neighbor. The values that are in any community servant go along with the Knights of Columbus.
Editor’s Note: There are many ways to be a "Courageous Dad." Be sure to see the movie "Courageous" which tells the story of four fathers and their struggles to become the men God created them to be.