Council 19 (CK19) was established at Queen’s University Belfast in November 2019, little did we all know that it would be a very unusual year as a council for them, the Brothers of CK19 have put together a brief overview of what they did in their first year.

Reception Ceremony

On the 30th November (feast of St Andrew), fourteen young men from Queen’s University Belfast along with chaplain Fr Dominic McGrattan were received as members of the Order of Knights of St Columbanus in a ceremony at the Chaplaincy.

Through prayer and apostolic service, the order seeks to defend and promote the Catholic faith, foster fraternity among members and reach out to those in need. The ceremony took place in the presence of family, friends and senior members of the Order.

The council is based at The Catholic Chaplaincy at Queen’s University Belfast and is the only university council in Ireland.

Post Initiation

Following our reception ceremony, we engaged in a range of apostolic initiatives including a Bake Sale at the Chaplaincy, raising £180 for the Council.

We also organised a hugely successful pro-life panel discussion titled “why support life”. Panellists included Dawn McAvoy- Both Lives Matter, Dr Andrew Cupples GP, Kate Meenagh- Ask Majella Pregnancy Support Service, Patrick Gallagher- GAA for Life and Sarah Haire- Stanton Healthcare. Brett Lockhart QC chaired the discussion and consequently penned an article in the Irish News.

The discussion raised £700, which was presented via cheque to Kate Meenagh from Ask Majella Pregnancy Support Service. This was featured in the Irish Catholic


In December, CK19 helped organise and promote Night Fever in The Chaplaincy. This involved an all night vigil with adoration in the Chaplaincy from 7pm-7am on 4th December into the 5th. Knights were present in the chapel, leading guided prayer throughout the night and around campus encouraging passers-by to come in, light a candle and avail of the sacrament of reconciliation. 

Brothers established a Mary’s Meals backpack scheme in the Catholic Chaplaincy, providing educational items for children in less fortunate circumstances. This was a joint effort between CK19 and Fiat.

CK19 held a Holy Hour of Adoration, concluding with Benediction in early January.

Online Guide + More

On Tuesday 10th March our new council officers were installed by PGK Brother Charlie Clarke and Provincial Chancellor Brother Seamus Monaghan from Area 2.

Brothers from CK19 created an online guide helping those house-bound or those in self isolation accessing church services. They include a comprehensive list of every parish in the diocese of Down and Connor with a webcam. The Guide also features details on purchasing devices for watching Masses.

Throughout Holy Week CK19 conducted a range of activities on Zoom. This included Stations of the Cross on Monday + Tuesday, Seven Last Words of Christ on Wednesday, A Holy Thursday Prayer Service and the Five Wounds of Christ on Good Friday. Our Chaplain, Fr Dominic led each meditation. 

Helping Out at Home

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, brothers from CK19 have assisted local parishes in various activities ranging from lectoring at Holy Mass, assisting in the sacristy and also helping local parishes to find new ways to stream online via webcam.

CK19 have helped signpost parishioners and elderly family members to Holy Mass through webcam and televised services.

Throughout the Marian month of May, we decorated May Altars to commemorate Our Lady.

Brother Dermot Brennan has been involved in the Order’s ‘Understanding the Mass’ video series initiative as a presenter with Fr Michael Sheehan of the parish of Drumbo and Carryduff providing insights and discussions on the Church and the Mass itself.

Council Retreat

COVID-19 saw the cancellation of this year’s annual Council retreat. We had planned to join our brothers in the Knights of St Columba at Glasgow University for a retreat at Pluscarden Abbey, Scotland. Undeterred, we worked together to create a ‘virtual retreat’ which took place over Zoom and was led by Fr Brendan O’Connor and Fr Donncha O’hAodha, priests of Opus Dei.

The retreat, delivered over three days, consisted of Holy Mass and a series of meditations and doctrinal talks. We concluded each evening with Adoration, Benediction and Compline. We also had some ‘break out’ sessions on Zoom, giving an opportunity for individual spiritual direction as well as group discussion and fraternal togetherness.

Themes included obedience, mental prayer, personal holiness and giving good witness.

Re-Opening of Churches 

With restrictions easing across Northern Ireland In June, Public Mass resumed across our dioceses.

Brothers from CK19 have been helping their native parishes in various ways—ushering, cleaning pews, lectoring and assisting in the sacristy.

Others have been responsible for maintaining online streaming of Mass and School “Leavers” Masses.

Brother Luke Rooney, who has been assisting in his local parish of Glenavy & Killead told us “I’ve been doing ushering at my parish starting last Sunday and on an ongoing basis. I’m also a Eucharistic Minister”.

A “Blended Semester”

On 29th September, we held our first “blended” zoom meeting. Brothers gathered in person and via Zoom online. However, with new restrictions, all our meetings are now solely on Zoom.

Meet the Knights- In October, we launched a new social media initiative-“Meet the Knights”. Each profile provides some information on the Brothers who make up the Catholic Knights of St Columbanus at Queen’s. 

Zoom Talks- Currently, we have held two successful zoom talks. Our first was on 27th October by Fr Stephen Langridge, a priest of Southwark Archdiocese on “Evangelising your friends”. We were joined by students from various Catholic Chaplaincies such as Liverpool, Belfast and Glasgow.

Our second zoom talk was given by Fr Malachy Gallagher, a Priest of the Diocese of Derry, who spoke on the subject of Holy Purity and Chastity to the Council.

We are currently in the process of arranging a date for Fr Paul Farren, Founder of the JPII award and Administrator of St Eugene’s Cathedral. Fr Paul will speak on Blessed Carlo Acutis, on course to be the world’s first millennial Saint. A high turnout is anticipated and will help form links with other Catholic Societies throughout the UK and Ireland.  

CK19 is facilitating Night Prayer of the Church on Zoom each weeknight, providing a moment of quiet prayer and reflection for brothers at the close of each day.

Other Initiatives 

The Brothers of CK19 wished our fellow Brother, Ciarán Bagchus, every blessing as he moved to Spain to begin formation for priesthood. Brother Michael Ward presented Brother Ciaran with a framed and signed photograph of CK19 as a parting gift.

CK19 are currently organising a hike of Cavehill to help commerate our first year as a council. Social and more informal activities such as these are important for recruitment.

Brother Mark and Michael are currently involved in the Knights Northern Dioceses Vocations Committee – “Consider Your Call”- which is chaired by our Chaplain Fr Dominic McGrattan.

CK19 are in regular contact with our confreres from the Knights of St Columba at Glasgow University, with the intention of organising another retreat for this year.

CK19 looks forward to establishing a relationship and volunteering with L’Arche. L’Arche is a care provider situated in South Belfast offering vital supports to adults with learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders.