Who Are the Knights of Columbus and What Do They Do?
The Knights of Columbus was founded in 1882 by Father Michael J. McGivney at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut. The Knights of Columbus is a family fraternal organization of over 1.8 million Catholic men and their families, and is organized into local councils, state councils, and a supreme council. Over 14,000 councils are currently active. The Knights of Columbus extends 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.
The Knights are in solidarity with the Holy Father and our Priests. The Knights work on and contribute to service programs in the areas of Community, Family, Youth, Church, and Council. Globally, in 2012 the Knights donated more than $158MM to charities and $1.406B in the past decade. Knights donated nearly 70 million hours of their time to various charitable activities and over 653 million hours in the past decade. The specific programs supported are generally determined by the local and state councils based on local needs, but all have the same purpose and that is the support of these five areas. The core principles of the Knights of Columbus are charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism. We are all united in charity.
Locally, some of our
The Knights of Columbus is an "Experience of a Lifetime."
How Do I Become a Knight?
You must be a practicing Catholic man age 18 or older to be eligible to be a Knight. A practicing Catholic is one who is in union with the Holy See and who practices the precepts of the Catholic Church. Men interested in joining the Knights of Columbus can do so at any time during the year. You do not have to wait until a membership drive is held or until someone invites you to join. You can take the initiative to join. The first step in becoming a Knight is to contact a current Knight or membership director and complete a membership application. After your application is reviewed and approved by the council and admissions committee, you will attend a first degree exemplification. Following the first degree, you are considered a council member and are welcome to attend regularly held council meetings and events.
Come see what we are all about and take the first steps to enhance your personal life. Information is available from our local council at the following link http://home.catholicweb.com/sjbkofc/files/Join_KofC.htm or from the Supreme Council at the following link http://www.kofc.org/un/en/membership/join/index.html.
Learn more about the knights by viewing the following video segments at the Supreme web site…
- “Why Join”…. http://www.kofc.org/un/en/membership/join/howtojoin.html (click the “video” link once the web page opens, then click on each area of interest)
- KofC “Video Library” has numerous examples of KofC programs…. http://www.kofc.org/un/en/videos/videolibrary.html (scroll down once the web page opens)
- “Experience of a Lifetime”…. http://www.kofc.org/un/en/videos/videolibrary.html#1136138497001
- “Founding to Future”…. http://www.kofc.org/un/en/videos/videolibrary.html#1303823024001
What Are Degrees and Why Are They Important?
There are four degrees in the Knights of Columbus. They can be thought of as lessons in charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. They are meant to inspire knights to grow in their Catholic faith and to think about these principles as they progress on their journey as knights. The first degree is about charity and is required before a candidate can become a
member. The second degree is about unity. The third degree is about fraternity and is required before a knight is considered a full knight with the privilege to become an officer, attend state meetings or attend supreme conventions. The fourth degree is about patriotism, and is required before a knight can join an assembly or participate in the color corps.
The color corps is the most visible organization within the Knights of Columbus.
Although not required, many knights who have completed their fourth degree elect to become active in the color corps.
Why Do Some Knights Wear the Capes, Tuxedoes, Chapeaus, and Swords?
This is a role reserved for fourth degree knights, and is called our color corps or sometimes the honor guard. You will most often see the color corps at civic events such as parades and wreath-laying ceremonies, or at special church events, Masses, events involving our Bishop, and at funerals. Participation in the color corps is not a requirement, but many fourth degree knights find it to be a gratifying experience.
This tradition dates back to medieval times. Many years ago, Knights would draw their swords and touch the heel of the handle to their chin and extend the tip toward an honoree. This was a sign of deep respect and was intended to honor someone. This gesture is still used today by the Knights of Columbus Color Corps. In some cases the swords are not used and
Knights will tip their Chapeaus in the same sign of respect and honor. This gesture of respect and honor is always given to our Lord during the consecration of the Body and Blood during the Mass.
The capes and chapeaus can be several colors. The colors denote officer positions within the color corps. Gold is reserved for the Master of the Fourth Degree. He is the leader of the Fourth Degree in our state. Green is reserved for the District Marshall who leads all color corps in our state. Purple is reserved for the Color Corps
Commander of each assembly. White is reserved for the Assembly Faithful Navigator. Red is for all other Color Corps members.
The next time you see a color corps present at an event, you now know that they are there as a sign of deep respect and honor. Please thank them for their service.
Who Are the Leaders of the Knights of Columbus?
The leader of each local council is called the Grand Knight. The Grand Knight and other officers of each local council are elected each Columbian year which extends from July 1 to June 30.
The leader of each state council is called a State Deputy. The State Deputy and other officers of each state council are elected each Columbian year which extends from July 1 to June 30.
The leader of each Fourth Degree assembly is called the Faithful Navigator. The Faithful Navigator and other officers of each assembly are elected each Columbian year which extends from July 1 to June 30.
The leader of the entire order is called the Supreme Knight. The Supreme Knight is chosen by a Board of Directors composed of 24 members who have been elected by the Supreme Council.
What Do the Symbols and Colors on the Knights of Columbus Emblem Mean?
The third degree Knights of Columbus emblem is the most commonly recognized emblem of the order. It consists of a knight’s shield mounted on a Formee Cross. There is also a forth degree emblem that features the Dove, the Cross and the Globe.
When Were the Knights of Columbus Founded?
The Knights of Columbus was founded in 1882 by Father Michael J. McGivney in the basement of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut. The Church is still in existence adjoining the campus of Yale University, and a council still uses the basement of the church for its meetings. The headquarters of the Knights of Columbus is still located in New Haven. St. Mary’s Church and the Knights of Columbus museum are open to the public for visitation.
The cause for canonization of Father McGivney was opened in 1997, and is proceeding. This process could lead to proclamation of sainthood for our Order’s founder. The title “Servant of God” is permitted to be used once a formal cause for canonization is under way. This title was given to McGivney in 1997, when the Vatican granted nihil obstat, meaning that it had found no objection to the advance of the formal cause for canonization. In 2008, after the Congregation for the Causes of Saints made a positive judgment on the positio, Pope Benedict XVI declared Father McGivney’s heroic virtue as a prelude to possible beatification and Father McGivney was given the title, “Venerable
Servant of God.” For more information on the life of Father Michael J. McGivney, see his biography, "Parish Priest", by Douglas Brinkley and Julie M. Fenster.
Do I Have to Be Active in a Certain Number of Events or Meetings after Joining?
No. This is a common misperception that unfortunately causes some busy men to be reluctant to join the Knights of Columbus.
While all knights are encouraged to be active, there is no set requirement. As a Knight, you can choose the projects that you become involved with, and you volunteer only the time you have available. As a family fraternal organization, the Order is dedicated to family life and the need to balance your time with other activities.
Are There Dues Involved with Being a Knight?
Yes. The local council collects modest annual dues from members.
Our St. John the Beloved council dues for the 2016-2017 year are $24, and have been the same since our founding in 1996. The dues are used to defray communication and administration costs by local, state and supreme councils.
Do the Knights of Columbus Offer Fraternal Benefits?
You may already be aware that the Knights of Columbus offers affordable life insurance to its members. Although there is no requirement to purchase insurance from the Knights of Columbus, approximately one third of the Knights globally have elected to have some form of insurance, annuities, disability income insurance, or long-term care through KofC. The Knights of Columbus has assured the welfare of its members since 1882 (over 125 years), and ranks in the top 5% of the approximately 2,000 insurance companies throughout North America. It has consistently received the highest possible ratings from A.M. Best (A++ Superior) and Standard & Poor’s (AAA Extremely Strong), and is a member of the Insurance Marketplace Standards
Association (IMSA) which is reserved only for those insurance companies that conduct business by the highest ethical standard.
There are also other benefits associated with being a Knight. These include scholarships, accidental death benefits, orphan benefits, etc..
For further information on fraternal benefits see the KofC web page at www.kofc.org .
Why Should I Join the Knights, I Already Belong to Another Volunteer Organization?
The Knights of Columbus are committed to making our community a better place, while supporting our Church. The Knights of Columbus also provides an opportunity for you and your family to get to know other families in our parish. Families can socialize, and our events often enable other parishioners the opportunity for fellowship also. Being a Knight is about
much more than camaraderie, however. It is about being involved with your community. It is about supporting your local Catholic Church, while growing in your own faith. It is also about providing security for your family and enhancing your family life.
Is the Knights of Columbus a Secret Organization?
No. The principles and objectives of the KofC are published and well known. While the Knights of Columbus council meetings are only open to members, this is common for many private organizations. Our meetings follow the same format as many civic or church organizations, and use Robert’s rules of order. Our programs and activities are open to the public and typically involve family members and others. Ceremonials, such as degrees, are the only aspect of the KofC where details are not shared. This is done so that candidates can fully appreciate each degree experience.
How can I recruit members?
The Order’s new Online Membership initiative is live throughout the United States and Canada!
Now you can invite eligible Catholic men to take their first step toward committed, lifelong and council-based membership in the Order by signing up online.
How does online membership work? What does it mean for degrees? Who can sign up?
Watch this brief video that explains what the program is and how it can be used as a powerful tool to help your council recruit.
We are uniquely positioned to help other men lead with faith, protect their families, serve others and defend their values. It’s now even easier to invite them to become Knights of Columbus so that they too can enjoy the same life-changing benefits and experiences that we have.
Not sure how to invite men to join? Personal invitations always work best. Talk to them. Text them. Email them. You can use the sample email below as a guide.