Joseph Gubeli is serious about promoting the Knights
SUMMERVILLE — Joseph Gubeli’s decades of service with the Knights of Columbus were rewarded in July when he was installed as the state deputy of the Catholic fraternal men’s organization in South Carolina. It is the highest office in the state.
Gubeli, 71, first joined the Knights in 1957 when he was stationed in San Diego with the U.S. Marine Corps. He served for many years with the military in areas where there were no active councils, but renewed his affiliation when he moved back to Charleston in 1990.
Since then, Gubeli has been a driving force in the Knights, both in the Summerville area and statewide. Fellow members say he is devoted not only to the group’s charitable work, but to its role as a social and faith network for Catholic men.
As state deputy, he is responsible for making sure the 8,224 members of South Carolina’s 57 councils stay motivated and active. He reports to the national Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, who is based in New Haven, Conn.
“Being state deputy is a challenge,” Gubeli said in a recent interview with The Miscellany. “I look at it this way — I would do anything to help the Knights advance, to make sure that every eligible Catholic man has an opportunity to join. I think it’s a great, great organization.”
The position requires traveling to social functions, operational meetings, and exemplifications of third and fourth degree Knights around the state, Gubeli said.
His duties also include working with a committee to determine who should receive charitable grants from money collected during Operation Hope, the Knights’ annual Tootsie Roll sale.
Gubeli said he’s pleased with recent growth in Knights of Columbus membership around the diocese, and would like to see the organization increase its numbers and its charitable work.
“I’d like to see a council in every Catholic parish in the state,” he said. “I also would like to see us raise more money for the Special Olympics and to help unwed mothers and the needy. There are so many different things to focus on right now when it comes to charity. Right now a lot of people don’t have enough money to feed their families.”
A native of Wisconsin, Gubeli served with the Marines from 1957 until late 1960, and then started a 27-year career with the U.S. Air Force in 1961. He worked in electronics and satellite communications.
Gubeli met his wife, Consuelo, while he was stationed in Spain in the early 1960s. They have two grown children, Ana, who lives in Goose Creek, and Joseph Jr., who lives in Virginia.
He first moved to South Carolina in 1984 where he was stationed at Charleston Air Force Base, and then returned to the area in 1989.
He was one of the first members of St. Theresa the Little Flower Church in Summerville, and helped start the parish’s Father David J. Schiller Council 11910 in 1991. He also helped form a council in Goose Creek, and recently created a Knights assembly at St. Theresa. An assembly is made up only of fourth degree Knights.
“I never thought I’d get to this position,” Gubeli said. “This was not my goal when I started out with the Knights. I joined it because it’s a good Catholic fraternal organization. I wanted to find something that would keep me occupied. You have to be involved in something, to have friends.”
Becoming state deputy is a long process, said Joseph Valentino, state publicity director for the Knights.
A man must first serve as grand knight of his council, and then become a district deputy, overseeing five councils. He then competes with other district deputies statewide for election to the lowest statewide office, which is state warden. The Knight then must move up through the ranks of state advocate, state treasurer and state secretary.
Each state office has a term of two years, and an officer can be challenged at any point of time.
Valentino has gained respect for Gubeli and his work over the years.
“I think the statement that best describes Joe is that there’s really no group of men that Joe would rather be associated with and hang out with than the Catholic gentlemen of the Knights of Columbus,” Valentino said. “He’s a really good person and a great motivator of people. He takes the Knights very seriously, and as a leader he expects significant accomplishments from each of the councils around the state.”
The installation was held at St. Theresa the Little Flower on July 1. Other newly installed officers are Tom Monahon, state secretary; Rich ard Gabriel, state treasurer; Rich ard Stachelek, state advocate; and Richard Marino, state warden. Father Robert Higgins, administrator at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in North Myrtle Beach, is the state chaplain.