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San Diegan leads Knights of Columbus in Calif.

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By James Aitchison

SAN DIEGO — The unassuming man who just took over the reins of the Knights of Columbus in California is a powerhouse.

Newly elected State Deputy Rene Trevino’s motto for the Knights this year is the motivational slogan of California’s own patron saint, Junipero Serra: “¡Siempre adelante, nunca atras!” (Always forward, never back!)

Trevino, who joined the Knights of Columbus in 2004, shares the same energy and gusto for Catholic evangelization as St. Junipero, founder of the California missions.

“Anything worth having is worth fighting for,” said Trevino, 67, who was recognized as California Knight of the Year in 2017. “If we have a hope, destiny, dream, marriage, business, vision, or any aspiration we would like to see happen, we must pray for them, act on them.”

The State Deputy Supreme Knight for the California State Council is the fraternal organization’s highest-ranking state-level position.

Originally from Corpus Christi, Texas, Trevino moved to California with his family at age 4 and has lived in San Diego ever since. He can trace his ancestors to Mexico and Spain.

He spent 31 years as a senior civilian with the U.S. Navy, where his last position was as the executive director of Navy Region Southwest. There, he was responsible for the mission of 10 major naval installations, 29 program managers and an annual budget of over $1 billion. His awards include the Superior Civilian Service Award (twice) and the Meritorious Civilian Service Award.

He retired in 2010, but “retirement” seems to be a foreign concept to him. Since 2012, he’s been a member of the Sheriff’s Volunteer Patrol, where he trains officers and leads the Sheriff’s Department Volunteer Honor Guard.

Trevino and his wife, Carla, are parishioners at St. Gregory the Great in Scripps Ranch, where Trevino served as Grand Knight of Council 10094 from 2005 to 2006.

“We were determined to take the approach that we were not just going to retire from something, but to something,” he said.

In early July, Trevino was installed as the state deputy by Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly at St. Mary’s Parish, the birthplace of the Knights of Columbus, in New Haven, Conn. His previous leadership posts with the Knights include district deputy (2011-2013), president of the San Diego Diocese Chapter of the Knights of Columbus (2015-2016), operations director for the State Council (2016-2018), and state warden for the California State Council (2018-2022).

As state deputy, Trevino is responsible for the growth of the Knights and management of more than 750 councils, composed of nearly 80,000 brother Knights, and the 16 chapters.

In a recent message to the state’s Knights, he laid out his objective for the 2022-2023 Columbian Year: “Our mission is to revitalize Christianity in California with the same fervent evangelizing spirit as those early missionaries led by St. Junipero Serra who set out to establish a chain of missions that changed the human history of California in profound ways.”

Trevino is prioritizing spiritual growth and membership growth.

Among the Knights’ other program objectives for this year are:

• to make pilgrimages to all 21 California missions;
• to dramatically enhance the organization’s contributions to first-responders across the state, honoring those who have supported the Special Olympics/Law Enforcement Torch Run and the American Wheelchair Mission program;
• to address the post-pandemic spiritual malaise by spearheading the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Eucharistic Revival and with their “Prayers in the Pew” prayer card and newsletter program; and
• To double-down on their efforts to defend the dignity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death.

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