By Brian Knapek
Volunteering for the Rockville Fire/Rescue Department has strengthened my Christian values by enabling me to serve the members of my community. For example, it has given me the opportunity to become involved with the Polar Plunge, allowing me to work alongside the Fraternal Order of Police and members of the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department.
I also have developed many friendships through my involvement in the department. I am blessed to serve side by side with great individuals who I consider to be friends — using the gifts that God has given us to help others and give back to the communities that our department serves.
The camaraderie within the department is what makes us feel like a “big family.” Similar to the support system within families, members of the department watch out for each other during calls and are always there to back up one another. The same holds true for the members of law enforcement who meet us on calls.
Unfortunately, there are times when our response to an emergency call doesn’t go as planned or there is an unfavorable outcome. It is on these occasions that we really dig deep into our faith, and members of the department struggle with the question of “why?” Knowing that we can pray to God for support and guidance during these times is phenomenal; it is also critical for the well-being and stability of our members.
The amount of prayer and support our department receives from the community is extraordinary and greatly appreciated. I am thankful knowing that there will always be support and people sending prayers my way when the pager goes off. My biggest supporters are my family: my wife, Andra, and children, Julia, Bryce and Natalie. I am most grateful to have God watching over me because nobody knows what the next call will entail or how it will end.
Our Catholic faith was an important part of my upbringing. I grew up on a family farm by Gilman. We did many things together as a family and going to church together each week was most important. But as a young adult I fell away from the Church. My faith was restored when I became involved in the TEC (Together Encountering Christ) program; I also met my wife through my participation in TEC. I often share my personal story that I believe God led me back to him so that I could serve him with a very specific purpose.
There have been numerous situations when I have put my training to use — both as a member of the department and in my personal life. I’ve prayed that God would give me courage and strength as I serve in this calling, and that he would give me the gift of serving another day. I am blessed to be able to continue to do God’s will.
I have grown in my faith over the years, and I am proud to support my wife and three children in their spiritual journeys. We attend Mass together each week and make it a priority to simply spend quality time together. I take time every day to pray about the important things going on in my life; I thank God for all the amazing people he has put in my life. My faith has helped me overcome many difficult situations in my life and continues to be my strength and guidance as I serve on the Rockville Fire/Rescue Department.
Knapek and his family live near the community of Marty and attend St. Mary Help of Christians Parish in St. Augusta.
JOIN US FOR THE DIOCESAN BLUE MASS A CELEBRATION OF FIRST RESPONDERS
Thursday, Sept. 12, 7 p.m.
St. Mary’s Cathedral
25 8th Ave. S., St. Cloud