When it comes to living their faith, Franklin Bevel and his wife, Joana, leave little room for doubt. The longtime members of Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Niceville are active in multiple ministries at their parish and are always willing to lend a hand to causes in the community. Whether it’s supporting the church’s annual fall festival with delicious Filipino food or taking part in the many charitable pursuits of the parish’s Knights of Columbus Council 7667, the Bevels are what Knights of Columbus Grand Knight Todd Alber calls “a model family.”
In fact, the only people who were surprised when the Bevels were honored recently as Florida’s Knights of Columbus state Family of the Year were the Bevels themselves.
“It was a great honor and a surprise,” Franklin said. “It was very humbling to be recognized at our parish level, and then again at the state level.”
In his letter nominating the Bevels for the award, Alber stated that the family “has made and continues to make significant contributions to our council, our community, and our parish.”
Among those contributions are the many leadership roles Franklin has played in Council 7667, including Faithful Navigator, Deputy Grand Knight, Program Director, Chancellor, Membership Director, Warden, Degree Team, and Honor Guard. Over the years, he has been actively involved in virtually all of the council’s charitable activities, including the annual Tootsie Roll drive to raise funds for handicapped citizens, the annual Father-Daughter Dance, and the Christmas party for residents of an area facility for the mentally disabled. In addition, he serves as a member of the parish’s safety/security team, which provides “watchful eyes” over the church campus during Mass and large gatherings.
For her part, Joana plays an active role in the parish’s Filipino-American community. As a member of the Ladies Sodality, she volunteers with social functions such as church picnics, fairs, and other special events. She frequently contributes Filipino food at parish festivals and helps organize receptions following funerals. In addition, she serves as a parish Rosary Maker, helping to make and donate more than 15,000 rosaries to people around the world.
Together, the couple volunteer to serve coffee and donuts after Sunday Mass and have been faithful participants in the church’s annual Christmas Angel Tree program for children in need. They are regular donors to a number of charities outside of the church as well.
The Bevels, who moved to Bluewater Bay in 1991, will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in October. Their son Franklin, Jr. serves in the army, and their daughter Latisha lives in New Jersey. They had a third child who is deceased.
While Joana was raised Catholic, Franklin is a convert who joined the church in 2009. He recently retired from the U.S. Postal Service and says he and Joana are eager to continue to serve their church and community.
“It’s a great honor to help the less fortunate,” he said. “Doing God’s work, putting our faith into action. That’s what it’s all about.”