Knights of Columbus
On March 29, 1882, the Connecticut state legislature officially chartered the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal benefit society founded by Father Michael J. McGivney with a group of parishioners in the basement of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven.
Still true to its founding principles of charity, unity, and fraternity 125 years later. The Knights has grown into the world’s largest fraternal organization of Catholic laymen with more than 1.7 million members worldwide. Councils can be found in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, the Caribbean, Central America and Poland.
Throughout its 125-year history, the Knights of Columbus has been an effective advocate and defender of civil and religious rights for all.
The Knights pioneered service to U.S. troops with the Army Hut program in the Mexican Campaign and World War I. This program would serve in later years as a model for the creation of the USO.
The Knights published books on the contributions of racial minorities in the 1920s and defended Catholic education when the state of Oregon attempted to ban religious schools, the organization focused U.S. and international attention on the persecution of Catholics in Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s, and helped pioneer nationwide blood drives in the 1940s.
In the 1950s, it was the Knights who spearheaded the movement to add of the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance – and the organization continues to defend the presence of those words today.
Since 1975, the Knights of Columbus has funded the broadcast of the midnight Mass celebrated annually by the Pope, and in the 1980s the Knights contributed to the restoration of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
In 2001, the Knights were among the first groups to respond to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, providing $1 million in checks for emergency funds to the families of emergency responders killed in the attacks.
In 2005, the Knights donated more than $10 million and hundreds of thousands of man hours to hurricane relief in the wake of Katrina and Rita. In the past decade, the Knights of Columbus has donated more than $1 billion and nearly 600 million hours to charitable causes.