The 2018 National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors was hosted by the Phoenix Diocese.
Attendees were scheduled to arrive between Thursday September 13 and Tuesday September 18, 2018.
Fr. Paul Sullivan, Vocations Director for the Phoenix Diocese, with Bishop Olmstead’s blessing, requested assistance from the Knights of Columbus with transportation of the attendees from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport to the Hyatt Regency in Scottsdale, which would include Priests, Deacons, Nuns and Lay persons from the entire United States, Canada and Mexico. The one-way distance was 18 miles.
After an initial meeting with Fr. Sullivan, SD Tom Kalisz, IPSD Sean Halpain and myself, a plan was formed, and a request was sent out through the appropriate District Deputies in the Phoenix area.
The request was for drivers and escorts from various councils in the Phoenix area. The idea being that a two-person team could, after being advised to come to the terminal for pickup, drop the escort in the baggage claim area while the driver would wait in the designated cell phone parking lot. Once the escort had collected the passengers, there may be one, two, three or in a few cases four passengers to be collected for a run to the conference site. The driver would drop the passengers at the conference and return for another load, approximately a one-hour roundtrip. The plan was to have a coordinator (myself) in the terminals, as well as an assistant which would allow us to cover two terminals simultaneously. The attendees were instructed to text the coordinator upon arrival in Phoenix. With two knights in the terminals to direct the attendees to the baggage claim area, the passengers could be collected in a common area to minimize delays in their transport.
The Diocese Vocations office, particularly Ms. Margo Gonzalez, was instrumental in making a list of attendees that included the date of arrival, airline flight number, arrival time, name, cell phone, email address and home city. This allowed us to judge when and which terminal they would arrive at and group the arrivals, so the drivers could be scheduled properly.
Through a six-day period, the knights transported nearly 150 attendees by making approximately 70 round trips which totals a staggering 2500 miles, and over 250-man hours not counting commuting from home to the airport.
A total of 35 knights and their wives participated in this mission. They represented the following councils; 4339, 11738, 9312, 16277, 10062, 15497, 13836, 13286, 13779, and 11675.
Feedback from the vocation’s office has been positive, I will attempt to get feedback from the drivers and escorts to look for ways to improve the operation for those who would like to perform a similar mission.