Who Are the Knights?
The Knights of Columbus were founded in the midst of a society hostile to the Catholicism, including its values of charity and service. Father Michael J. McGivney, a parish priest from New Haven, CT conceived of a way to rescue the men of his parish from the miasma of New England in 1881. He gathered a few of these men in the basement of St. Mary’s church in order to discuss his plan for a fraternal society, which would eventually become the world’s largest Catholic family fraternal service organization.
Since those early days in the organization, the Knights have been inspired by the principles of charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism. The Order grew as a group of Catholic laymen committed to the values of an idealized Christopher Columbus, discoverer of America who brought Christianity to the New World. This commitment manifested itself in charitable works, donations, evangelization programs, as well as the Order’s Insurance program. Created by Fr. McGivney for the purpose of protecting the widows and orphans of deceased Brother Knights, the program has consistently received high rankings from national organizations such as A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The Order quickly flourished throughout the country.
Today, the Knights of Columbus continue to offer an escape from an increasingly secular society, where a commitment to faith-inspired service is considered strange. The organization has been called, “the strong right arm of the Church,” which is just one example of praise from various Church and world leaders. Collectively, the Knights have contributed over $175.1 million and 73.5 million hours of service over the past year alone. Since Supreme Knight Carl Anderson took up the leadership of the Order in 2000, the Knights of Columbus has donated more than 653 million hours of service and $1.4 billion to charity.
How to Join
Membership in the Knights of Columbus is open to practicing Catholic men in union with the Holy See, who are at least 18 years old. A practicing Catholic is one who lives up to the Commandments of God and the precepts of the Church. Applications are available from any member of the Knights or you can start the process online: CLICK THIS LINK TO SIGN UP ONLINE: http://www.kofc.org/en/join/sign-me-up.html
All the good works we do are informed by our four core principles:
Charity - Our Catholic faith teaches us to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Members of the Knights of Columbus show love for their neighbors by conducting food drives and donating the food to local soup kitchens and food pantries, by volunteering at Special Olympics, and by supporting, both spiritually and materially, mothers who choose life for their babies. Knights recognize that our mission, and our faith in God, compels us to action. There is no better way to experience love and compassion than by helping those in need, a call we answer every day.
Unity – None of us is as good as all of us. Members of the Knights of Columbus all know that – together – we can accomplish far more than any of us could individually. So we stick together…we support one another. That doesn’t mean that we always agree or that there is never a difference of opinion. It does mean that – as a Knight of Columbus – you can count on the support and encouragement of your brother Knights as you work to make life better in your parish and community.
Fraternity – The Venerable Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus, in large part, to provide assistance to the widows and children left behind when the family breadwinner died – often prematurely. The Order’s top-rated insurance program continues to do this today, as do individual Knights, who last year gave more than 10 million hours of their time to assist sick and/or disabled members and their families. In the Knights of Columbus, we watch out for and take care of one another.
Patriotism – Members of the Knights of Columbus, be they Americans, Canadians, Mexicans, Cubans, Filipinos, Poles, or Dominicans, are patriotic citizens. We are proud of our devotion to God and country, and believe in standing up for both. Whether it’s in public or private, the Knights remind the world that Catholics support their nations and are amongst the greatest citizens.
Any Third Degree member in good standing, one year after the anniversary of his First Degree, is eligible for membership in the Fourth Degree. The primary purpose of the Fourth Degree is to foster the spirit of patriotism by promoting responsible citizenship and a love of and loyalty to the Knights' respective countries through active membership in local Fourth Degree groups (called "assemblies"). Certain members of the Fourth Degree serve as honor guards at civic and religious functions, an activity that has brought worldwide recognition to the Knights of Columbus.