The Knights of Columbus was founded in 1882 by a 29-year-old parish priest, Father Michael J. McGivney, in the basement of St. Mary's Church in New Haven, Connecticut. Today, more than a century later, the Knights of Columbus has become the largest lay organization in the Catholic Church.
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, programs of evangelization and Catholic education, civic involvement and aid to those in need. As recently as 1992, Mother Teresa of Calcutta praised the Knights in a speech on the occasion of her reception of the first Knights of Columbus Gaudium et Spes Award.
Thanks to the inspired work of Father McGivneyas well as that of millions of other Knights over the past centurythe Knights of Columbus now stands at its pinnacle of membership, benefits and service. Currently, there are over 1.6 million Knights of Columbusmore than ever before in our Order's history. Together with their families, the Knights are nearly 6 million strong. In addition, from the first local council in New Haven, the Order has grown to more than 12,000 councils in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Panama, the Virgin Islands, Guatemala, Guam and Saipan. Each year, the Order continues this strong growth.
VOLUNTEER SERVICE AND INSURANCE
As the Order has grown, its benevolence has multiplied. The Order continues to break all previous records for charitable contributions and volunteer service. In the past decade, the Knights donated nearly $1 billion to numerous charitable causes and nearly 400 million hours of volunteer service. In 1998 alone, the Knights donated an all-time high of more than $110 million and 55 million volunteer hours to charitable causes.
Father McGivney's founding vision for the Order also included establishing a life insurance program to provide for the widows and orphans of deceased members. The Order's insurance program has expanded substantially to serve more effectively the Knights' growing membership. Year after year, the Knights of Columbus has earned the highest possible quality ratings for financial soundness from A.M. Best and Standard & Poor's. The Order provides the highest quality insurance and annuity products to its members, along with many other fraternal benefits.
CHARITY, UNITY, FRATERNITY, AND PATRIOTISM
Knights of Columbus are Catholic gentlemen committed to the exemplification of charity, unity, fraternity, patriotism, and defense of the priesthood. The Order is consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Order is unequivocal in its loyalty to the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth. It is firmly committed to the protection of human life, from conception to natural death, and to the preservation and defense of the family. It was on these bedrock principles that the Order was founded over a century ago and remains true to them today.
If you want to join this great organization of Catholic men, it is likely that there is a local council near you. There you will find brother Knights working to fulfill the central mission of the Order: striving in charitable works; serving the Church and unified in following its teachings; supporting brother Knights in their temporal and spiritual needs; acting for the good of their country; and giving aid to widows, orphans, the sick and the poor. This is Father McGivney's dream, echoing across the century, and living today in the hearts of his brothers and all of those they touch.
As a member of the Knights of Columbus you and your family enjoy many benefits, including 12 free issues annually of the Columbia magazine, the world's largest Catholic family magazine, eligibility to join the Knights of Columbus top-ranked life insurance program, the state wide newsletter The Courier, the St. Isidores Council News, as well as many other family and personal benefits.
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. Application blanks are available from any member of the Knights of Columbus.
For information on joining the St. Isidore Council #12086, contact Mark Gearhart at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling him at 402-910-0564.
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.
The Ladies Auxiliary's main function is to support the men and the council. They do this primarily by providing help at events, cooking for events and providing monetary help. They also generally do help with setting up and beautifying the hall for events.
The St. Isidore's Council currently does not have a Ladies Auxiliary.
Under the guidance of Christian Brother Barnabas McDonald (1865-1929), the first Columbian Squires circle was instituted in 1925. Membership in the Squires is for Catholic boys between the ages of 12 and 17. Squires' activities are many, varying from spiritual to active service for the Church and community. Each circle elects officer members from their own rank, teaching skills of leadership and responsibility.