By Jessica Easthope
Frank Kotnik can still remember getting his first ever Lionel train set.
“I was led downstairs into the basement and I was only table height and I saw these trains with the lights and smoking with the light going around and around,” said Frank, a fourth degree Knight of Columbus at the Monsignor Sherman Council in Glendale, Queens.
Decades later, trains are still a big part of his life. For the last few years Frank has worked with Lionel to design trains for the Knights of Columbus’ “Keep Christ in Christmas” campaign. This year, he’s at the controls again. The 2020 Christmas train is done and Frank is working on a new train designed to carry the organization’s founder Father Michael McGivney all the way to sainthood.
“Now that Father McGivney will be beatified, our team is putting together a Fr McGivney Lionel boxcar,” Frank said.
Father McGivney’s beatification Mass will take place at the end of October in Connecticut. By then, the Knights are hoping to have hundreds of Father McGivney trains to sell, with the proceeds going to persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
“We’ve generated more than $9,000 for charity, so once we finalize the Father McGivney train we’ll work closely with the Supreme Knight and see what we can do to get it sold nationwide,” said Ken Engesser, the treasurer of Monsignor Sherman Council.
Like most Knights, Frank has a special connection to Father McGivney and his legacy: he’s the inspiration behind Frank’s desire to give back.
“It’s more of the giving aspect, here we are to serve, our motto is ‘In Service to One in Service to All,’ it gives you a great sense and a good feeling to help others in need,” said Frank.
The Knights say Father McGivney’s beatification is an honor for all of them. They’re hoping he’s going full steam ahead toward sainthood, and another miracle will be just around the bend.