|Abbreviation||K of C|
|Formation||March 29, 1882|
|Founder||Bl. Michael J. McGivney|
|Founded at||New Haven, Connecticut|
|Type||Catholic fraternal service order|
|Headquarters||Knights of Columbus Building, New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.|
|Patrick E. Kelly|
|William E. Lori|
The Knights of Columbus (K of C) is a global Catholic fraternal service order founded by Michael J. McGivney on March 29, 1882.Membership is limited to practicing Catholic men. It is led by Patrick E. Kelly, the order's 14th Supreme Knight.
The organization was founded in March 1882as a mutual benefit society for working-class and immigrant Catholics in the United States. In addition to providing an insurance system for its members, its charter states that it endeavors "to promote such social and intellectual intercourse among its members as shall be desirable and proper". It has grown to support refugee relief, Catholic education, local parishes and dioceses, and global Catholic social and political causes. The Knights promote the Catholic view on public policy issues, including opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion.
The organization also provides certain financial services to the individual and institutional Catholic market. million insurance contracts, totaling more than $100 billion of life insurance in force. The order also owns the Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors, a money management firm which invests in accordance with Catholic social teachings.Its wholly owned insurance company, one of the largest in the world, underwrites more than two
As of 2019, there were nearly two million members around the world. Women may participate in K of C through the Columbiettes and other female auxiliaries, and boys may join the Columbian Squires. The Order comprises four different "degrees", each one of which exemplifies one of the core principles of the order. There are more than 16,000 local Knights of Columbus councils around the world, including over 300 on college campuses.
American Catholic priest Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus at St. Mary's Church in 1882 as a mutual benefit society for Catholic immigrants in New Haven, Connecticut.As a parish priest in an immigrant community, McGivney saw what could happen to a family when the main income earner died. This was before most government support programs were established. Because of religious and ethnic discrimination, Catholics in the late 19th century were regularly excluded from labor unions, popular fraternal organizations, and other organized groups that provided such social services.
Although its first councils were all in Connecticut, the Order spread throughout New England and the United States in subsequent years.As the order expanded outside of Connecticut, structural changes in the late 1880s and 1890s were instituted to give the Knights a federalist system with local, state, and national levels of government. This allowed them to coordinate activities across states and localities.
During World War I, the Knights established soldiers' welfare centers in the U.S. and abroad.After the war, the Knights participated in education, occupational training, and employment programs for veterans.
The Oregon Compulsory Education Act of 1922 would have disallowed parochial schools, including Catholic schools, in that state.The Knights of Columbus challenged the law in court, and, in a landmark 1925 ruling ( Pierce v. Society of Sisters ), the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down.
To combat the animus targeted at racial and religious minorities, including Catholics, the Order formed a historical commission which published a series of books on their contributions, among other activities.The "Knights of Columbus Racial Contributions Series" of books included three titles: The Gift of Black Folk, by W. E. B. Du Bois, The Jews in the Making of America by George Cohen, and The Germans in the Making of America by Frederick Schrader.
Meanwhile, though the membership system at the time did not explicitly exclude African Americans, as few as one negative vote (and later, four or five) against a prospective candidate (no matter the size of the council) was enough to deny someone entry. This occurred in a racist manner often enough, especially in the Deep South, that the Josephites helped found the Knights of Peter Claver in 1909 for African Americans. The KoC national leadership later amended their policies so that rejections required a majority of council members.
Around 1915, during the nadir of American race relations, the Ku Klux Klan began promoting a conspiracy theory claiming that Fourth Degree Knights swore an oath to exterminate Freemasons and Protestants.The Knights of Columbia vehemently denied the existence of any such oath, calling the rumors libel. In 1923, the Knights of Columbus offered $25,000 to any person with proof that the fake oath attributed to the fourth degree membership was part of any authentic ceremony. The Knights began suing distributors for libel in an effort to stop this, and the KKK ended its publication of the false oath.
According to church historian Massimo Faggioli, the Knights of Columbus are today "'an extreme version' of a post-Vatican II phenomenon, the rise of discrete lay groups that have become centers of power themselves."
As the Order and its charitable works grew, so did its prominence within the Church.Pope John Paul I's first audience with a layman was with Supreme Knight Dechant, and Pope John Paul II met with Supreme Knight Virgil Dechant three days after his installation. During the pope's 1979 visit to the United States, the Supreme Officers and Board were the only lay organization to receive an audience.
President Richard Nixon addressed the Supreme Convention in 1971.President Ronald Reagan spoke in 1982 and 1986 and George W. Bush spoke in 2004. George H. W. Bush spoke as vice president in 1984 and then again as president in 1992. President Bill Clinton sent a videotaped message to the 111th Supreme Convention saying the Order's "contributions to the Catholic Church and to your communities merit our applause."
Faggioli believes the scope of the Knights' philanthropy can "create influence through money, especially in important places like Rome or Washington, D.C."
|Grand Knight||Navigator||Chief Squire|
|Deputy Grand Knight||Captain||Deputy Chief Squire|
|Financial Secretary**||Comptroller||Bursar Squire|
|Inside Guard||Inner Sentinel||Sentry|
|Outside Guard||Outer Sentinel||Sentry|
|Trustee (3 Year)||Trustee (3 Year)||nonexistent|
|Trustee (2 Year)||Trustee (2 Year)||nonexistent|
|Trustee (1 Year)||Trustee (1 Year)||nonexistent|
|nonexistent||Color Corp Commander*||nonexistent|
The order is dedicated to the principles of charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism. As of 2020 [update] , there were 2 million knights.Membership is restricted to adult male Catholics.
Each member belongs to one of more than 16,000 local "councils" around the world.The college councils program started at The Catholic University of America in 1898. The oldest continuously running college council is the University of Notre Dame Council #1477, chartered in 1910. As of 2018, there are more than 300 college councils. Separate organizations, known as Fourth Degree assemblies, may form color guards to attend important civic and church events; they are often the most visible arm of the Knights.
The Supreme Council is the governing body of the order. It elects insurance members to serve three-year terms on a 24-member Board of Directors.Leaders' salaries are set by the board of directors and ratified by the delegates to the Supreme Convention. The seven-figure salaries of senior K of C officers have been criticized as excessive.
In 1969, the Knights opened a 23-story headquarters building in New Haven.
(*Appointed annually by each council's Grand Knight or assembly's Navigator)
(**Appointed for a three-year term by the Supreme Knight)
Charity is the foremost important principle of the Knights of Columbus. million and 76 million volunteer-hours toward charity projects in 2018. Charitable activities include support for refugees, aid for victims of natural disasters, and advocating Catholic ethics, such as opposition to same-sex marriage and opposition to abortion.At their 2019 convention, then-Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said that the organization had donated $185
Beginning in 1897, the National Council encouraged local councils to establish funds to support members affected by the 1890s depression.Councils also offered employment agency services and provided aid to the poor and sick. Aid has also been dispensed to assist victims of natural and man-made disasters, starting with a flood in Kansas in 1903. In 2015 alone, the order donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to victims of typhoons and other natural disasters.
During times of war, the Order supports aid to refugees. Between 2014 and 2018, the Knights gave more than $2 million to provide food, shelter, clothing, and medical care to persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. The Knights donated $250,000 in 2018 to help refugees crossing over the Mexico–United States border who were seeking asylum in the United States and later expanded the program. Within days of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the 2,000 Knights of Columbus in the country worked to help those impacted. They began by providing food and clothing to those at train and bus stations in Lviv who were fleeing into Poland. They then began organizing busses to take people the Polish border. In the first three months of the war, the Knights in Poland helped more than 300,000 people, or 10% of those who fled to that country.
The Knights of Columbus has donated more than $600 million to those with intellectual and physical disabilities.One of the largest recipients of aid in this area has been the Special Olympics, where the Knights have been involved since the very first games in 1968.
After the Knights had donated more than 1,000 ultrasound machines to crisis pregnancy centers from 2009 to 2019, Anderson said, "Our ultrasound initiative is now the greatest humanitarian achievement in the history of the Knights of Columbus. ... We can, and I am confident that we will, save millions of unborn lives."Following the United States Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization , Supreme Knight Patrick E. Kelly called on the order to increase their support for women facing unplanned and crisis pregnancies with the Aid and Support After Pregnancy (ASAP) initiative.
The Knights also donate to the institutional church, including being a major donor to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops As of 2017 [update] , the Knights' Vicarius Christi fund has contributed more than $57 million to the charitable efforts of the pope. The Knights have supported the Vatican's news operation for decades.and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In the field of education, the Knights of Columbus have a number of scholarships and other programs for seminarians, veterans,students at The Catholic University of America, and at other Catholic colleges. Especially during World War I and World War II, the Order operated a number of "huts" to support troops serving in combat, regardless of race or religion.
|Year||Insurance in force||Assets|
|2019||$109 billion||$26 billion|
The original insurance system devised by McGivney gave a deceased Knight's widow a $1,000 death benefit. Each member was assessed $1 upon a death, and when the number of Knights grew beyond 1,000, the assessment decreased according to the rate of increase.Each member, regardless of age, was assessed equally. As a result, younger, healthier members could expect to pay more over the course of their lifetimes than those men who joined when they were older.
There was also a Sick Benefit Deposit for members who fell ill and could not work. Each sick Knight was entitled to draw up to $5 a week for 13 weeks. If he remained sick after that, the council to which he belonged determined the sum of money given to him.
In the post-World War II era, to enhance yields on its capital, the organization began investing in real estate leaseback transactions. million. Late in 1953 the order purchased the land beneath Yankee Stadium for $2.5 million. In 1971, the City of New York took the land by eminent domain.Between 1952 and 1962, 18 pieces of land were purchased for a total of $29
The order offers permanent and term life insurance, as well as annuities, long term care insurance, and disability insurance. billion of life insurance policies in force and $26 billion in assets as of 2019. A. M. Best ranked it 49th on the list of all life insurance companies in North America.The order has more than $109
The order chooses equities that first, are a sound investment, and second, do not conflict with the investment guidelines produced by the United States bishops based on Catholic social teaching. As of 2008 [update] , over $500 million had been loaned through the ChurchLoan program.Its insurance operation invests in loans to various Catholic institutions.
For 40 consecutive years, the order has received A. M. Best's highest rating, A++. A 2017 lawsuit claimed the Knights were inflating their membership numbers to improve their rankings and demanded $100 million in damages. A jury ruled in favor of the Knights in two of the three counts of the lawsuit, but ordered them to pay $500,000 for breach of contract.
Since its earliest days, the Knights of Columbus has been a "Catholic anti-defamation society."In 1914, it established a Commission on Religious Prejudices. As part of the effort, the order distributed pamphlets, and lecturers toured the country speaking on how Catholics could love and be loyal to America.
The creation of the 4th Degree, with its emphasis on patriotism, performed an anti-defamation function as well as asserting claims to Americanism.In response to a defamatory "bogus oath" circulated by the KKK, in 1914 the Knights set up a framework for a lecture series and educational programs to combat anti-Catholic sentiment.
The Knights have been urged to take a prominent role in the new evangelization.The CIS published a series on the new evangelization in 2011, and donations to other Catholic mass communication services represent one of the Knights' major expenditures. The Knights have also established councils in both secular and Catholic universities.
While the Knights were active politically from an early date, in the years following the Second Vatican Council, as the "Catholic anti-defamation character" of the order began to diminish as Catholics became more accepted, the leadership began to use its financial resources to directly influence the direction of the church.That led to the creation of a "variety of new programs reflecting the proliferation of the new social ministries of the church."
The leadership of the order has been, at times, both liberal and conservative. Martin H. Carmody and Luke E. Hart were both political conservatives, but John J. Phelan was a Democratic politician prior to becoming Supreme Knight,John Swift's "strong support for economic democracy and social-welfare legislation marks him as a fairly representative New Deal anti-communist," and Francis P. Matthews was a civil rights official and member of Harry Truman's cabinet. Anderson previously served in the Office of Public Liaison under Ronald Reagan.
The Knights of Columbus is classified by the IRS as a 501(c)(8) fraternal benefit society. Unlike the more common 501(c)(3) nonprofits, 501(c)(8)s are allowed to engage in limited direct political activity without jeopardizing their tax exemptions.However, Anderson has said “One of our most important traditions throughout our 125-year history is that we do not, as an organization, become involved in partisan politics."
The Knights of Columbus support political awareness and activity among their membership and local councils. Public policy activity is limited to issue-specific campaigns, typically dealing with Catholic family and sanctity of life issues.They state that
In addition to performing charitable works, the Knights of Columbus encourages its members to meet their responsibilities as Catholic citizens and to become active in the political life of their local communities, to vote and to speak out on the public issues of the day. ... In the political realm, this means opening our public policy efforts and deliberations to the life of Christ and the teachings of the Church. In accord with our Bishops, the Knights of Columbus has consistently maintained positions that take these concerns into account. The order supports and promotes the social doctrine of the Church, including a robust vision of religious liberty that embraces religion's proper role in the private and public spheres.
The order opposed persecution of Catholics in Mexico during the Cristero War,and opposed communism. Also during the 20th century, the order established the Commission on Religious Prejudices, and the Knights of Columbus Historical Commission which combated racism. It was also supportive of trade unionism, and published the works "of the broad array of intellectuals", including George Schuster, Samuel Flagg Bemis, Allan Nevins, and W. E. B. DuBois.
During the Cold War, the order had a history of anti-socialist, anti-communist and anti-anarchist crusades. US$1 million to the Susan B. Anthony Foundation and other anti-abortion and anti-contraception organizations.They lobbied to add "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance, as a religious response to Soviet atheism. The Knights have been active opponents against the legal introduction of same-sex marriage and have been a key contributor in terms of funding to local measures. The Knights have donated over
On March 10, 2001, the order opened a museum in New Haven dedicated to their history. US$10 million to renovate. It holds mosaics on loan from the Vatican and gifts from Popes, the membership application from John F. Kennedy, and a number of other items related to the history of the Knights. Near the entrance is the cross held by Jesus Christ on the facade of St. Peter's Basilica before undergoing a Knights-financed renovation.The 77,000 square foot building cost
In 2015, the order launched Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors, a money management firm which invests money in accordance with Catholic social teaching.The firm uses the Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to guide their investment decisions. The guidelines include protecting human life, promoting human dignity, reducing arms production, pursuing economic justice, protecting the environment, and encouraging corporate responsibility.
In addition to the wholly owned subsidiary, it also purchased 20% of Boston Advisors, a boutique investment management firm, managing assets for institutional and high-net-worth investors. [ clarification needed ] services, a bank loan strategy, and other alternative investment strategies. In 2019, the Knights purchased the institutional management business of Boston Advisors.Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors manages the fixed-income strategies for their funds while Boston Advisors sub-advises on the equity strategies. Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors also offers model portfolio, outsourced CIO
The order owns and operates the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington D.C.In 2011, the Order purchased the 130,000-square-foot John Paul II Cultural Center. The mission as a cultural center ended in 2009 and the Knights rebranded it as a shrine to Pope John Paul II. Soon after the pope was canonized, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops named the building a national shrine.
Each year 64,000 pilgrims visit the shrine, which features video content, interactive displays, and personal effects from John Paul.There is also a first class relic of the pope's blood on display for veneration. It also serves as a base for the Order in Washington, D.C.
Many notable Catholic men from all over the world have been Knights of Columbus. In the US, some of the most notable include John F. Kennedy; Ted Kennedy;Al Smith; Sargent Shriver; Samuel Alito; Conrad Hilton; John Boehner; Ray Flynn; Jeb Bush; film maker John Ford; and Sergeant Major Daniel Daly, a two-time Medal of Honor recipient.
In the world of sports, Vince Lombardi, the famed former coach of the Green Bay Packers;James Connolly, the first Olympic gold medal champion in modern times; Floyd Patterson, former heavyweight boxing champion; and baseball legend Babe Ruth were all knights.
On October 15, 2006, Bishop Rafael Guízar y Valencia (1878–1938) was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome. In 2000, six other Knights, who were killed in the violence following the Mexican Revolution, were declared saints by Pope John Paul II.
The emblem of the order was designed by Past Supreme Knight James T. Mullen and adopted at the second Supreme Council meeting on May 12, 1883. [ non-primary source needed ]Shields used by medieval knights served as the inspiration. The emblem consists of a shield mounted on a Formée cross, which is an artistic representation of the cross of Christ. This represents the Catholic identity of the order.
Mounted on the shield are three objects: the fasces, an anchor, and a dagger. In ancient Rome, the fasces was carried before magistrates as an emblem of authority. The order uses it as "symbolic of authority which must exist in any tightly-bonded and efficiently operating organization." [ non-primary source needed ] The anchor represents Christopher Columbus, admiral under the orders of the kings of Spain and patron of this partnership, here a symbol of the Catholic contribution to America. The short sword, or dagger, was a weapon used by medieval knights. The shield as a whole, with the letters "K of C", represents "Catholic Knighthood in organized merciful action." [ non-primary source needed ]
Many councils also have women's auxiliaries. At the turn of the 20th century, two were formed by local councils, each taking the name Daughters of Isabella.They expanded and issued charters to other circles but never merged. The newer organization renamed itself the Catholic Daughters of the Americas in 1921, and both have structures independent of the Knights of Columbus. Other groups are known as the Columbiettes. In the Philippines, the ladies' auxiliary is known as the Daughters of Mary Immaculate.
A proposal in 1896 to establish councils for women did not pass and was never proposed again.
The Knights' official junior organization is the Columbian Squires. According to its founder Barnabas McDonald, "The supreme purpose of the Columbian Squires is character building."
It was founded in 1925 in Duluth, Minnesota, by Barnabas McDonald.The formation of new Squire Circles in the United States and Canada is discouraged, as the Order desires to move youth activities from exclusive clubs into the local parish youth groups.
The Knights of Columbus is a member of the International Alliance of Catholic Knights (IACK), which includes fifteen fraternal orders such as the Knights of Saint Columbanus in Ireland, the Knights of St Columba in Great Britain, the Knights of Peter Claver in the United States, the Knights of the Southern Cross in Australia and New Zealand, the Knights of Marshall in Ghana, the Knights of Da Gama in South Africa, and the Knights of Saint Mulumba in Nigeria.
The Loyal Orange Institution, also known as the Orange Order, is a similar organization for Protestant Christians.
Michael Joseph McGivney was an Irish-American Catholic priest based in New Haven, Connecticut. He founded the Knights of Columbus at a local parish to serve as a mutual aid and fraternal insurance organization, particularly for immigrants and their families. It developed through the 20th century as the world's largest Catholic fraternal organization.
John W. McDevitt was the eleventh Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus from 1964 to 1977.
Luke Edward Hart was the tenth Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, serving from September 1, 1953 until his death on February 19, 1964.
St. Mary Parish is a Roman Catholic parish in New Haven, Connecticut, part of the Archdiocese of Hartford. The Parish of St. Mary consists of two churches: St. Mary's Church on Hillhouse Avenue, and St. Joseph's Church in the East Rock section of New Haven.
The International Alliance of Catholic Knights (IACK) is a non-governmental organization made up of fifteen Roman Catholic fraternal orders from 27 countries on six continents. The IACK was founded in Glasgow on 12 October 1979 at a meeting of the leaders of six fraternal societies, convened on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of the Knights of Saint Columba. The organization is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland.
The Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus is the title of the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the Knights of Columbus. The organization comprises approximately 1.9 million members in more than 15,000 councils and operates an insurance company with over $109 billion of life insurance in force, as of 2020.
John Edward Swift was an American judge who served as the ninth Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus from October 24, 1945, to August 31, 1953.
Martin Henry Carmody was the seventh Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, serving from September 1, 1927, to August 31, 1939.
Count Edward Leo Hearn was the fifth Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus from April 1, 1899, to August 31, 1909.
James E. Hayes was an American politician and the third Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus from March 2, 1897, to February 8, 1898.
James Terrance Mullen was the first Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus from February 2, 1882 to May 17, 1886. He also served in the New Haven, Connecticut police and Fire Departments, and as an alderman. With his service in the Union Army and in several fraternal orders, he has been described as "veteran of fraternity."
Charles Pasquale Greco was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as bishop of the Diocese of Alexandria in Louisiana from 1946 to 1973.
The American Fraternal Alliance (AFA) is an umbrella group of fraternal orders in the United States. It was founded as the National Fraternal Congress of America in 1913, in Chicago and adopted its current name in 2011.
The history of the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic University of America dates back to the founding of the university. The Order founded a "Knights of Columbus College".
Timothy Patrick Galvin was a lawyer and Deputy Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.
Charles J. Ducey was Deputy Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.
The history of the Knights of Columbus begins with its founding in 1882 by Father Michael J. McGivney at St. Mary's Parish in New Haven, Connecticut. The Knights of Columbus was initially a mutual benefit society for a membership of practicing male Catholics. Today, it advocates for Catholic causes and provides a range of philanthropic and support services to Catholic institutions worldwide. It is also one of the world's largest insurance companies and operates the shrine to Pope John Paul II in Washington, D.C.
The political activity of the Knights of Columbus deals with the involvement of the fraternal order in efforts to influence public policy.
The charitable activities of the Knights of Columbus include the time and money which are donated to charitable causes by the Supreme, state, and local councils of the Order of the Knights of Columbus. Charity is the foremost principle of the Knights of Columbus. At its 2019 convention, the supreme knight reported the Knights had donated $185 million and 76 million volunteer hours to charitable projects the previous year.