The Knights of Columbus was founded by Father Michael J. McGivney, assistant pastor of St. Mary’s Church and some of his parishioners in New Haven, Ct. in 1881. The Connecticut state legislature on March 29, 1882, officially chartered the Knights of Columbus as a fraternal benefit society. These men were bound together by the ideal of Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of the Americas, the one whose hand brought Christianity to the New World. The Order is still true to its founding principles of charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism. They sought strength in solidarity, and security through unity of purpose and devotion to a holy cause: they vowed to be defenders of their country, their families and their faith. Father McGivney and these men formed a fraternal society that would one day become the world’s largest Catholic family fraternal service organization.
The Knights was formed to render financial aid to members and their families. Mutual aid and assistance are offered to sick, disabled and needy members and their families. Social and intellectual fellowship is promoted among members and their families through educational, charitable, religious, social welfare, war relief and public relief works. Father McGivney’s founding vision for the Order also included a life insurance program to provide for the widows and orphans of deceased members. The Order has helped families obtain economic security and stability through its life insurance, annuity and long-term care programs, and has contributed time and energy worldwide to service in communities.
The Knights of Columbus has grown from several members in one council to more than 14,000 councils and 1.8 million members throughout the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Poland, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, Guatemala, Guam and Saipan.
When you say the Pledge of Allegiance to Our Flag, please remember that the Knights of Columbus was instrumental, along with other patriotic and religious groups, in getting the phrase “Under God” added to the Pledge. This was signed into law by President Eisenhower on Flag Day, June 14, 1954.