The Graetz family of St. Patrick’s in Hudson was awarded the Wisconsin State Family of the Year. The presentation took place at the 118th annual Knights of Columbus convention in Appleton on April 27. (Submitted photo)

Knights of Columbus
Wisconsin State Council

The Joe and Mary Jo Graetz family, of Hudson, was named the 2019 State of Wisconsin Knights of Columbus Family of the Year. The family was presented the award at the 118th Annual Wisconsin State Council Knights of Columbus convention in Appleton.

The Graetzes were chosen as the Family of the Year for the St. Croix Council 1762 in Hudson; their nomination was sent to the state for consideration as the Superior Diocese Family of the Year. They were chosen for this award and were honored guests at the State Deputy banquet.

They were in contention with four other families for the State Family of the Year title. The Graetz family will now be submitted to the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus for contention in the International Family of the Year Award.

Joe and Mary Jo have three children: Shawn (Lee Anne); Angela (Nick); Jennifer (Dominic), and five grandchildren.

Joe and Mary Jo are very involved in many activities at St. Patrick Church, the community, the Knights of Columbus and most importantly their family, volunteering countless hours for the benefit of others. St. Patrick’s Church has been the Graetzes’ parish home since they got married, 35 years. They quickly grew to love the parish and the people who belong to the community. Their Catholic faith is important to them. They have raised all three of their children in the parish, and the family continues to value their Catholic foundation. St. Patrick’s is their “family home” church. It supported them through many trials, so they enjoy giving back.

During Joe’s 11 years as a Knight, he has become very involved with the programs, volunteering his time to help others. He enjoys working the KC concession brat wagon, the Tootsie Roll campaign to help the Intellectually Disabled, Lenten fish fries, and pancake brunches, all raising money to help others.

Mary Jo has been an extraordinary minister, taught NFP, is a member of CCW and served as a confirmation teacher. She organized American Red Cross blood drives. Mary Jo was instrumental in starting Boy Scout Troop 148, chartered by Council 1762. She was a Boy Scout committee member and Girl Scout Leader for two troops for more than 20 years.

The most impressive trait of the State Family of the Year is that they are consistently there for their children, grandchildren and community.

When Graetzes’ granddaughter Samantha was born premature at 23 weeks, she only weighed 1 pound, 1 ounce Samantha was in the hospital for 142 days, first on life support and then to grow to a size where she could safely go home. Mary Jo took time off from her job to take shifts at the hospital during these 142 days, and then continued to help as Samantha grew and developed at home.

Due to Samantha’s early birth, she has Cerebral Palsy and has gone through multiple surgeries. The family continues to support their children with the many hours of required therapy to help Samantha have a normal life. When their granddaughter Elenore was born prematurely at 2-1/2 lbs., the family again continued to help their children provide the love and support to Elenore to help her overcome the many obstacles in her development.

This family formed a team called “Samantha’s Squad” that for the past five years has helped raise money for Children’s Hospital fundraisers. For the past eight years, the family has also sponsored a fundraising bowling team for Bridge, an organization that helps youths and young adults with intellectual disabilities learn how to live on their own.

When another family in their parish needed help with their premature baby, the mother helped coordinate the donation of special premature baby formula for the family. For the past 28 years, the mother of this family has worked as a teacher to help those with learning disabilities and spent many summers helping those with severe physical disabilities.

The Graetz family was the overwhelming choice to be the State family of the Year. This family has demonstrated an extraordinary level of care, love and compassion to help those with special needs, not only in their own family, but those in their church and community. They were selected because they do it so willingly and tirelessly for the benefit of others.