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History

History of the Knights of Columbus

To fully appreciate the dynamics of the Knights of Columbus, it is helpful to understand how the Order started. In the late 1800's the United States was experiencing tremendous population growth-much of it stemming from European immigrants. It was a time of adjustment and sacrifice for these pioneers. Catholic immigrants found themselves to be a despised minority. Discriminated against, they were given the lowest paid, most menial and dangerous jobs. Poverty, disease and accidents took their toll and often resulted in the death of the breadwinner.

Father Michael J. McGivney saw these hardships on a daily basis. Having had the same experience as a child, he knew firsthand of the difficulties faced by these families. Left without pensions or means of support they turned to their parish community for help. Father McGivney responded. In 1882, Father Michael J. McGivney brought the concerned men of his parish to form a new fellowship of care and protection...The Knights of Columbus. Its primary goal: "To render financial aid to its members and the beneficiaries of its members."

Today, the Knights of Columbus Insurance is recognized as one of the top insurance companies in the world. We currently maintain the highest ratings available by A.M. Best and Standard & Poor's. Only 17 other companies maintain this combination. As reported by A.M. Best... "The rating of the Knights of Columbus reflects the society's very strong market presence in the Catholic community, exceptionally strong capitalization, consistently favorable earnings performance, and high-quality balance sheet.

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Membership

Six Reasons Why You Should Be a Knight of Columbus

  1. As an integral part of the world's largest and most dynamic Catholic fraternal organization, you will be united with 1.6 million Brothers and their families in more than 12,000 local councils located in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, Central America and the Caribbean.
  2. Your personal involvement as a Knight will provide opportunities, in charity and fraternity, for service to the Church at the local, diocesan and universal levels; to your communities; and to the less fortunate in our midst.
  3. Your active participation in council affairs: spiritual, fraternal, family, social, civic-oriented, athletic and recreational- will serve as a school of leadership and enable you to develop qualities that enhance your strengths and abilities.
  4. You will enjoy a sense of "belonging" in an organization that shares your religious beliefs, brings together like-minded men joined in a common cause, and offers the opportunity to develop and cement friendships for years to come.
  5. Your concerns for your family and for your retirement years can be addressed by the Order's low-cost insurance program, conducted by Brother Knights for Brother Knights, and assure their security and your peace of mind.
  6. You will share in the sense of pride all Knights feel in knowing that their Order is second to none in support of Our Holy Father, our Bishops and Priests; in working for our fellow man, especially those most in need; and in binding together to preserve traditional values in the face of attacks against the family and innocent human life.

Did You Know as a Knight of Columbus you...

  1. Created the $20 million "Knights of Columbus Vicarius Christi" fund- the earnings on which are conveyed annually to the Holy Father for his charities. Since its inception this fund has generated more than $20 million for the Pope's good works, and the corpus remains intact.
  2. Committed $8.8 million to the U.S. Bishops' Pro-Life educational campaign since 1990, and budgeted an additional $1 million for the production of pro-life materials, to overturn the pro-abortion mentality and defend the right to life.
  3. Bring the Pope to the world at least three times a year by providing the uplink cost for the televising of papal ceremonies, especially at Christmas and during Holy Week- and the downlink in poor mission countries.
  4. Presented a new mobile television production unit to the Vatican Television Center for the taping, recording and transmission of Vatican ceremonies at a cost of $600,000.
  5. Established the $2 million Count Enrico Galeazzi Fund for the Pointifical North American College for the benefit of the College and for U.S. Bishop- and priest- students there; the Bishop Charles P. Greco Fund for the American College in Louvain, Belgium, and the Father McGivney Fund for the Collegio Pontificio Filipino, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Fund for the McGivney Fund for Advanced Studies for Priests in Puerto Rico.
  6. Underwrote completely the renovation of the entire facade of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the most famous church in the world, the statues of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter's Square, and the historic Rooms of the Architects in the Basilica proper.
  7. Raised $1 million for the Bishop de Laval Fund, earnings on which annually support the work of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
  8. Contributed, since 1981, over $14.8 million to thousands of seminarians and postulants through the Refund Support Vocations Program, generating $3.2 million in rebated from the Supreme Council to participating councils, assemblies and circles. Also established the $7 million Knights of Columbus Vocations Scholarship Fund, with earnings funding the RSVP rebates and annual $2,500 scholarships based on need to seminarians in theology.
  9. Erected the Knight's Tower and carillon of bells at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, completely renovated it recently, and raised a $500,000 memorial fund in honor of Past Supreme Knight Luke E. Hart to promote Marian devotion at the Shrine and to preserve the Shrine in perpetuity.
  10. Provide the entire budget of the National Family Planning offices of the U.S. and Canadian Bishops, and assist the NFP office of the Mexican Bishops.
  11. Created the Father Michael J. McGivney Memorial Fund for New Initiatives in Catholic Education in the amount of $1 million, annual interest on which funds projects designed to improve religious education in the U.S. and Canada.
  12. In 1998, raised and distributed $110.7 million and contributed 55 million volunteer-hours in service to Church, community, youth and fellowman through the "Surge...with Service" outreach program.
  13. Sponsor the Pope John XXIII Center's seminars for the Bishops of the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and the Philippines on vital life-death issues.
  14. Underwrite, through an annual assessment of $.80 per member, the Order's Catholic Advertising Program, which provides free information on the Catholic faith to interested inquirers- more than 8 million responses and more than 750,000 enrollees in correspondence courses through the years.
  15. Have distributed millions of special Knights of Columbus rosaries at the rate of 10,000 per month, especially to new members, and now to former members who are readmitted.
  16. Support a multimillion dollar Student Loan Program for members and their children pursuing higher education, with all seminarians eligible.
  17. Provide support for such varied apostolate as the Eternal World Television Network; the National Clergy Conference on Alcoholism; Morality in Media; the National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities; the National Apostolate with Mentally Retarded Persons.
  18. Make available to dioceses and religious institutions a mortgage loan program at favorable interest rates. Over the last 15 years $197.5 million were provided to 214 entities, mostly local parishes.
  19. Renovated St. Mary's Church in New Haven, the birthplace of the Order, and entombed the remains of the founder, Rev. Michael J. McGivney, therein on March 29, 1982. Completed the 110-year-old construction plan of the church by erecting a 179-foot steeple, including a carillon of three bronze bells, atop St. Mary's.
  20. Support the spiritual welfare of armed services personnel and their families around the globe through a $900,000 fund for the Archdiocese for Military Services.
  21. Sponsor daily Mass for deceased Brother Knights at St. Mary's Church in New Haven and enable widows of Knights to receive COLUMBIA magazine each month.
  22. Paid $86 million in death benefits to the families of deceased Brother Knights during 1997 and $204 million in dividends to insurance members.
  23. Establish a North American campus of the Lateran University's Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C.

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Contact Us

Bernie Adams
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