Catholics Honored at Annual Rockford Life Breakfast
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
January 25, 2018
ROCKFORD—The January Life Breakfast, an annual event begun by Lutherans for Life and now sponsored by the International Organization for the Family, honored two young Catholic men posthumously and gave another award to an area Catholic family.
 
The Brian and Sandra Knabe family received the Family Heritage Award. Brian and Sandra have 10 children, two of whom were adopted from Poland. 
 
Brian worked for many years as a family practice physician. He now works as a financial planner in Rockford and as an emergency room physician in Wisconsin where the family has a second home. They homeschool their children and are members of Holy Family Parish.
 
The White Rose Award was given to Neal Rylatt and Maximilian Von Arx. Both young men died at the age of 18 after serving the cause of life in inspirational ways.
 
Rylatt is the son of Lisa and Shawn Rylatt. He was very active in the pro-life movement, especially Teens for Life. He protested and prayed at Planned Parenthood facilities, went on Face the Truth tours and covered many 40-day shifts at the Rockford abortuary. 
 
He was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in November 2010, graduating magna cum laude from high school even while receiving chemotherapy treatments. 
 
He attended Franciscan University in Steubenville for a couple of months before his illness relapsed. He lifted up his suffering for “da babies” during his illness, and he died on May 4, 2012.
 
“In the midst of his most severe suffering, the abortion mill in Rockford was closed,” said award presenter, Dr. Allan Carlson. “In some ways, it was a fitting tribute,” he added. 
 
Rylatt’s little sister and godchild, Frances, accepted the award.
 
Von Arx is the son of Holy Family parishioners Joe and Beth Von Arx, brother to their other eight children, and friend to many of all ages. 
 
He was known for paying special attention to “those who were often overlooked, disliked or who rarely smiled, people he called ‘simply awesome,’” Dr. Carlson said. 
 
Max, who has a little brother with special needs, was known to invite special needs kids to his home “to hang out.” He also gravitated toward the elderly for stories about their lives. 
 
Max had started studies at Steubenville University and while there, “He paid weekly visits to the homeless in downtown Pittsburg,” Dr. Carlson said. “He would sit down, talk with them and encourage them.”
 
Max died on Oct. 20, 2017, after a fall when he was hiking with friends in Maryland. His mother accepted the award on his behalf.
 
Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, was the keynote speaker at the breakfast. 
 
“In my opinion,” she began,  supporting the natural family “is the most important work we can do today from a societal standpoint. ... As the natural family, so the state, so the nation. ... Marriage, family and life are a package deal.”
 
Among those attending the early-morning breakfast at Giovanni’s restaurant were several students from Boylan Central Catholic High School. They were among more than 100 students from Boylan who were scheduled to leave later in the day for the March for Life in Washington, D.C.