These Men They Call Knights

These Men They Call Knights

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Welcome to the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest layCatholic family service organization. As their forebears did morethan a century ago, today’s Knights and their families standshoulder to shoulder in support of one another. Through theircharity and the examples of their lives, they stand in service toall as witnesses to the Good News of the Gospel. Although the Order is a “can-do” organization, its scope andthe role it plays on the world stage often surprise people. Theyare amazed to learn that in the year 2000 Knights the world overcombined to give more than 57 million hours of volunteer serviceand more than $116 million to a wide range of Church,community and charitable activities and programs. This was arecord in both categories dating from the time statistics werefirst kept in 1977.Most recently, through its $1.3 million Heroes Fund, theKnights of Columbus granted $3,000 to the families of each ofthe fire fighters, law enforcement officers and emergency servicepersonnel who lost their lives in the terrorist attack on the WorldTrade Center in New York. The aid was given immediately – thefirst check was hand-delivered just days after the tragedy – andregardless of faith or membership in the Order.In the wake of the tragedy too the Order established anannual “Blue Mass” in honor of law enforcement, fire andemergency service personnel – those “Everyday Heroes” whorisk their lives in service to our communities.Examples of what the ...

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Welcome   to the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest lay Catholic family service organization. As their forebears did mor than a century ago, today’s Knights and their families stand shoulder to shoulder in support of one another. Through their charity and the examples of their lives, they stand in service t all as witnesses to the Good News of the Gospel. Although the Order is a “can-do” organization, its scope and the role it plays on the world stage often surprise people. The are amazed to learn that in the year 2000 Knights the world ov combined to give more than 57 million hours of volunteer servic and more than $116 million to a wide range of Church, community and charitable activities and programs. This was a record in both categories dating from the time statistics wer first kept in 1977. Most recently, through its $1.3 million Heroes Fund, the Knights of Columbus granted $3,000 to the families of each of the fire fighters, law enforcement officers and emergency servic personnel who lost their lives in the terrorist attack on the Worl Trade Center in New York. The aid was given immediately – the first check was hand-delivered just days after the tragedy – an regardless of faith or membership in the Order. In the wake of the tragedy too the Order established an annual “Blue Mass” in honor of law enforcement, fire and emergency service personnel – those “Everyday Heroes” who risk their lives in service to our communities. Examples of what the Knights do – day in and day out –  abound. For example, the Order funds the satellite uplinks necessary to broadcast papal messages and ceremonies, especially at Christmas and Easter, throughout the world. The Knights paid the cost of the restoration of façade of St. Peter’s Basilica. The Order also financed the restoration of the Maderno – 2 –  
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Knights of Columbus highly value their vocation to be part of th evangelization effort of the Chu rch. The Vision of Father McGivney Led by the quiet, unassuming curate of St. sM aPrayrish in New Haven, Conn., a small group of men established the Knights of Columbus in the church basement early in the spring of 1882. The priest, Father Michael J. McGivney, saw clearly that both Catholics and the Church faced serious problems in the last half of the nineteenth century such as anti-Catholicism and ethnic prejudice; under-employment; lack of social standing and early loss of the breadwinner. To resolve those problems Father McGivney conceived the idea of an organization of Catholic men who would band together: To aid one another in times of sickness or death, by means of a simple insurance plan, so that their wives and children would not face abject poverty. To strengthen themselves and each other in the Faith. To strengthen families and family life. To be a strong pillar of support for their priests and bishops. To be of service to Church and community by coming to the aid of those most in need in society. They called themselves Knights of Colum buKsnights to emphasize chival rsy ideals of charity and support for Church and state, and Columbus as a reminder that Catholics had been the backbone and bulwark of Ame rsi cgarowth and greatness from the very beginning. The State of Connecticut officially chartered the Order on March 29, 1882. sItfounder, Father McGivney, and those first Knights dreamed of the day when there would be a council in every parish in Connecticut. Little could they know that their re than 4
1.6 million members in nearly 12,000 local councils in 13 countries: the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Cuba, Virgin Islands, Guam and Saipan. In the years since 1882 the Knights of Columbus has become one of the largest and strongest life insurance companies in North America with more than $43 billion of insurance in force. More than $4 billion in new insurance is sold annually and last year the Order paid $124 million in death benefits to the familie of deceased members and $275 million in dividends to insurance members. The Principles of the Order Charity is the first principle of the Order. Knights are followers of Christ and men of faith. As St. James reminds fuasit,h without works is dea  d .Therefore, as Knights we are committed to charity, easing the plight of those less fortunate. Unity is the second principle of the Knights of Columbus. In unity there is strength. Existing in an environment that wa openly hostile to Catholics, the founders of the Order relied on the strength of unity to remain steadfast in the Faith whil claiming their rightful place in society. Today the Order uses tha strength to speak out for religiously-grounded moral values in a culture that has forsaken them. Fraternity is the third principle of Order. In 19th century America, life insurance was beyond the financial reach of man poor Catholics, and social services did not exist. Through the Knights of Columbus men were able to band together as brothers to help one another in times of distress, sickness and death. Patriotism is the principle of the Fourth Degree. One of the reasons the Order was founded was to emphasize that Catholics are proud citizens of their countries. Today Fourth Degree rve to 5
witness to the values of devotion to God and country, the bedrock of patriotism. What the Order Stands for Today By their deeds shall you know them. The Knights of Columbus is very much a grassroots organization. The international body does not dictate the charitable programs an activities of local councils. Rather, local councils develop the programs they believe will best serve the needs of their communities. Those needs are met under the umbrella of Stuhrege. . . With Servic e program. It has five core areas: Church, community, council, family and youth. Within this framework, state and local councils decide how best to direct their efforts. Funds raised by the state and local councils remain with them for distribution in the ways the members feel best. This philosophy makes possible local efforts such as donating state-of-the-art computers to a Texas seminary; pledging $100,000 to a New Brunswick church to improve access for disabled people; raising $50,000 to equip police cars with cardiac defibrillators; or sponsoring a free medical clinic in the Philippines. Vocations support is also a major Knights of Columbus effort at all levels of the Order. State and local councils directly suppor seminaries and vocations promotion efforts. Additionally many councils participate in the RSVP (Refund Vocations Support Program) by  adopting a seminarian or postulant and providing him with moral and financial support. For each $500 in direct ai given to the candidate for the priesthood or religious life, th Supreme Council refunds $100 to the council. Through this program alone more than $2 million is given to seminarians an postulants each year. Through the Father Michael J. McGivney Vocations Scholarship Fund and the Bishop Thomas V. Daily Vocations illion, 6
nearly 400 scholarships have been given to seminarians in theology studies. Of these, almost 200 have been ordained since these programs began. Strengthening family life is another major aim of the Order. Knights conduct a wide variety of activities and efforts to enhance and strengthen family life in accordance with the socia teaching of the Church. This includes everything from the Family of the Mon thprogram that recognizes outstanding families on the local council level to funding the North America Campus of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. The institute is a part of the Lateran Universit in Rome and it offers graduate level degrees to those who will b involved with family ministry in the Church. The Order is also known as one of the w so rsltdrongest proponents of the sanctity of human life from conception until natural death. Even before t R h o e e v. Wade decision which legalized abortion on demand in the United States, the Knights of Columbus has been in the vanguard of the pro-life movement. In addition to its own pro-life initiatives, the Order offers both assistance and financial support on an on-going basis to the pro-life programs of the bish opcsonferences in the countries where the Knights of Columbus exists. In the latest of many efforts to restore a sense of the sanctit of human life in the world, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson has established March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, as the Knights of Columbus Day of the Unborn. On this day state and local councils across the globe are encouraged to organize special Masses and services. They pray that the Culture of Death that now darkens our world will become a Culture of Life celebrating the dignity and value of every human being from th moment of conception until natural death. Who May be a Member? Membership in the Knights of Columbus is open to any ot less 7
than 18 years of age on his last birthday. A practical Catholic is one who lives up to the Commandments of God and the Precepts of the Church. There are two types of Knights of Columbus membership. Associate members belong to the Order and enjoy many of its benefits, but do not hold Knights of Columbus life insurance certificates. This distinguishes them from insurance members. Unlike many fraternal organizations, the Knights of Columbus does not require the purchase of insurance for membership. It is voluntary. However, a man must be a member before he is eligible to purchase insurance for himself or his family. Application for membership is made through the council in the community nearest the appli cs anptlace of residence. Applicants temporarily away from home, such as those in the military, may apply either through their hometown council, th council on the military base to which they are assigned or another council in a community near them. Acceptance of the application depends on an admissions process and a vote of the members of the council to which the application is made. Following a favorable vote the applicant becomes a member by initiation in what is called the First Degree. Subsequently h advances through the Second and Third degrees. There are modest initiation fees and annual dues set by the local council in accordance with regulations established by the Supreme Council. Priests and religious brothers who have applied for membership and attended the ceremonials become honorary life members and are exempt from the payment o dues. Structure of the Order Supreme Council The Supreme Council meets annually. It consists of the supreme officers, supreme directors, the state deputies of the various jurisdictions, the most recent immediat past state deputies, territorial deputies, past supreme knights re two 8 – –
categories of elected delegates, associate and insurance, with the number of delegates in each category determined by the number of associate and insurance members in each jurisdiction. In addition to receiving the reports of the supreme officers, the delegates also set policy for the Order by means of resolutions. They also elect members to the board of directors. Directors are elected for three-year terms and, annually, the appoint from their own ranks the supreme officers who run the Order on a day-to-day basis. (Note: The supreme chaplain and the supreme warden are elected by the board.) The supreme officers are: Supreme Knight (chief executive) Supreme Chaplain (a voting member of the board) Deputy Supreme Knight Supreme Secretary Supreme Treasurer Supreme Advocate Supreme Warden The day-to-day business of the Order is conducted from the Supreme Council office in New Haven. All the officers, except the supreme chaplain and the supreme warden, work here on a full-time basis. The office has approximately 700 employees. State Council  The State Council meets annually. It consists of the state officers, the most immediate past state deputy, the grand knight and a past grand knight of each local council. The State Council receives the annual reports of the state officers and sets state council policy by means of a resolutions process. The State Council annually elects the State Council officers who are, by title: State Deputy (chief executive) State Chaplain (appointed) 9
State Treasurer State Advocate State Warden In addition to these officers, each jurisdiction has a number of directors and committee chairmen who are responsible for various State Council programs and for specific areas such as membership growth. District deputies are appointed and assigned to be the only representative of the supreme knight and the state deputy to designated group of local, usually five in number. Local Council The basic unit of the Knights of Columbus is the local council. At monthly meetings council members hear th proposals of various committees, decide which activities, programs and charitable causes the council will pursue and how the council will allocate its funds. They also vote on applications for membership and hear the reports of key council officers and directors. To be a council officer, a Knight must be a Third Degree member of the Order. Council officers are: Grand Knight Chaplain (the chaplain is appointed and must be a priest) Deputy Grand Knight Chancellor Financial Secretary (appointed) Recorder Treasurer Advocate Lecturer (appointed) Warden Inside/Outside Guards 10
The Patriotic Degree Until 1900 the principles of the Order were charity, unity and fraternity. On Feb. 22 of that year patriotism was added with th first exemplification of the Fourth Degree. Sometimes called th Patriotic Degree, it is open to Third Degree Knights in good standing who have been members of the Order for at least one year. The primary purpose of the Patriotic Degree is to foster the spirit of patriotism by promoting responsible citizenship, loyalt to country and the love of God. The basic unit of the Fourth Degree is called an assembly. It serves one or more local councils. Fourth Degree members are referred to as Sir Knights, and they may choose to join the assembl ys color corps, which serves as an honor guard at civic and religious functions. Color corps members are readily identifiable by their regalia (uniforms) consisting of tuxedo plumed chapeau, cape, sword and white gloves. Columbian Squires The Orde rs official youth organization is known as the Columbian Squires. Membership is open to boys between the ages of 10 and 18. The basic Squires unit is called a circle. Squires circles must be sponsored by a local council or assembly. A highly organized and structured international organization, Columbian Squires aims to develop leadership qualities as well as a strong sense of civic and religious responsibility in Catholic young men. Benefits of Membership Writing to pastors throughout Connecticut to encourage them to start councils in their parishes, Father McGivney explained in part: Secondly our object is to unite men of our faith throughout the Diocese of Hartford that we may thereby gain strength to ai al; and 11