Brief History of Knights of Columbus

On October 2, 1881, Father Michael J. McGivney, 29-year-old assistant pastor at St. Mary's Church in New Haven, Connecticut, brought together a group of laymen with whom he discussed his dream for a Catholic fraternal benefit society. It not only would assist widows and orphans of deceased members through its life insurance program, but also would boost members' sense of pride in their Catholic religion, then frequently challenged in the anti-Catholic climate of 19th-century America. Father McGivney and his associates met several more times over the next several months to continue planning, and the new organization -- the Knights of Columbus -- was formally launched in early February, 1882.

The officers of the new Catholic organization chose the name Knights of Columbus to honor Christopher Columbus, the Catholic discoverer of America. The word knights is also significant. We are ever mindful of the knightly qualities of spirituality and service to church that is embodied in the Knights of Columbus. The Order has evolved into a service organization with a strong family orientation. By the end of 1897 the Order was thoroughly rooted in New England, along the upper Atlantic seaboard and into Canada. Within the next eight years it branched out from Quebec to California, and from Florida to Washington. The Knights of Columbus remains headquartered in New Haven, but is now present with nearly 12000 Councils in the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, and several other countries. One of the primary missions of the Knights of Columbus is to support local charities. We also support other fund raising drives to aid local parishes and charities. The Knights of Columbus promotes family values by providing numerous activities throughout the year that the entire family can participate. Additionally, the organization provides an opportunity to ensure that a knight's family is provided for in the event of his death.