About The Order
The Knights of Columbus (K of C) is a social phenomenon. It was the brainchild of an Irish-American Catholic priest, the Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney. The primary motivation and inspiration of Fr. McGivney was: to find a way to help the Catholic communities grow in their faith and defend their beliefs; to ensure that the families of the deceased breadwinners have some economic security and stability, through a simple insurance program; and to help the individuals become better citizens of the land they live in. What started out as a small gathering of men in the basement of Saint Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut, has blossomed into the world’s largest and foremost Catholic family, fraternal, service organization. The Order was incorporated under the laws of the U.S. State of Connecticut on March 29. 1882.
The Order is consecrated to the loyalty of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is unreservedly dedicated to the protection of human life, from conception to natural death.
The name “Knights” signifies that the membership embodied knightly ideals of spirituality, and service to Church, country, and fellowman. The Order has been called “the strong right arm of the Church,” and has been praised by popes, presidents, and other world leaders, for support of the Church, social evangelization and Catholic education, civic involvement, and aid to those in need.
Presently, the Order enjoys the membership of more than 1.9 million Catholic men, who come from all walks of life and belong to more than 15,000 Councils worldwide, which, as of this writing, include 241 College Councils and 80 Military Councils. Isn’t it amazing? As the Order continued to grow and expand, it adopted, practiced, and promoted the time-honored principles of Charity, Unity, Fraternity and Patriotism, that eventually became the watchwords for the members and supporters of the Order.
Since its inception 128 years ago, the Order, which was named in honor of Christopher Columbus, has consistently served the causes, needs, wants and concerns of the humanity in all dimensions. Just to highlight, in 2009 alone, the K of C gave over $151 million directly to charity (over $1.3 billion in the last 10 years), and performed more than 69 million hours of volunteer service (in excess of 640 million hours of service during the last 10 years). The Order’s well-managed insurance program has paid to the beneficiaries of deceased members over $4.5 million as insurance benefit. It currently has over $70 billion of life insurance policies in force, backed up by $14 billion in assets. And, the numbers are growing by the day.
The massive growth, development and achievements of the Order were made possible due to the forward-looking vision, ingenuity, sacrifice, leadership, and steadfastness that began with its first Supreme Knight, James T. Mullen, and progressed through the efforts of subsequent Supreme Knights, such as Virgil Dechant and Carl Anderson, the current Supreme Knight.
In response to the calls of its constituents, which range from Popes, Bishops, Cardinals, priests, seminarians, and religious, to educators, students, community workers, and teens, to military personnel and war veterans, victims of natural disasters, to people with physical and intellectual challenges, homeless people, healthcare and other social institutions, to the individuals, families and children who are in dire need of a variety of physical and financial assistance, the Order continues to stretch its capabilities and extend its support, as it has been doing throughout the years of its existence.
Hierarchically speaking, the base units of the Order which are called Councils are managed by their own Grand Knights and other elected officers. These Councils, in turn, congregate to form State Councils, which have their own duly elected slates of officers. The State Councils are, in turn, “aided” by the Supreme Council, headquartered in New Haven, Connecticut, and administered by the Supreme Knight and his fellow officers and Board of Directors.
At every level of the K of C organization, the Order’s Constitution, By-Laws, Rules and Regulations are adhered to with certain permissible changes and amendments to suit the local needs. The Order has done an array of civil, humanitarian, religious, pro-life, patriotic and community work, too numerous to mention here.