A Knights of Columbus Moment (Frequently Asked Questions)
Why was the Knights of Columbus formed?
In 1882 the catholic men in America were being led astray by other non-Catholic men’s groups, this along with the fact that men had a high risk of being killed on the job and the Persecution of Priests, Father Michael J. McGivney conceived of a Catholic fraternal order of men who followed the teachings of the Church and whose wives and Families would be provided for in the case of the untimely death of a Knight of Columbus.
Is the Knights of Columbus an official part of the Catholic Church?
No. It is an independent, non-canonical organization that nonetheless is completely supportive of the Church at the parish, diocesan, national and international levels. Many thousands of priests and bishops are members. We have always regarded ourselves as the “strong right arm of the Church,” and a major part of the Order’s work is devoted to supporting our parish priests, bishops, and the Pope in a wide variety of ways. Last year, we provided more than $17.6 million for church-related grants and programs, including $2.3 million for vocations support. Each year, the Order presents the Pope with earnings from our Vicarius Christi Fund for his personal charities. Last year, the earnings totaled $1.6 million.
What is the mission of the Knights of Columbus?
The Knights of Columbus was established in 1882 to provide a means by which Catholic men could support the Catholic Church, provide financial protection for their families, and engage in works of charity to benefit the less fortunate. Today, its nearly 1.8 million members make up the largest Catholic lay organization in the world, its insurance program has $74 billion of life insurance in force, and last year Knights donated more than $150 million and volunteered 68 million hours of their time to charity. From helping children in need to providing wheelchairs for the physically disabled and support for the intellectually handicapped, from helping to stock food banks to offering top-rated and affordable life insurance to its members, the Knights has been at the service of the communities in which we live and the needy around the world for more than 127 years.
Who is eligible for membership in the Knights of Columbus?
Membership in the Knights of Columbus is open to men 18 years of age or older who are practical (that is, practicing) Catholics in union with the Holy See. This means that an applicant or member is one who:
* lives up to the Commandments of God:
You shall love the LORD your god with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and foremost commandment. The second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the Lord thy God, thou shall not have strange gods before me.
Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
Remember to keep holy the LORD’s day.
Honor thy father and mother.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.
Thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s goods.
* lives up to the precepts of the Church:
To assist at Mass on all Sundays and holy days of obligation.
To fast an abstain on the days appointed.
To confess our sins at least once a year.
To receive Holy Communion during the Easter time.
To contribute to the support of the Church.
To observe the laws of the Church concerning marriage.
* accepts the teaching authority of the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals.
* is in good standing in the Catholic Church.
Is the Knights of Columbus a cult?
By definition a cult is comprised of “followers of an unorthodox, extremist, or false religion or sect who often live outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.” And while indeed the Knights do follow a charismatic leader – Jesus Christ – we think you would be hard pressed to apply the definition above to the Catholic Church, the Pope, or the Son of God. No the Knights of Columbus is not a cult. It is a fraternal organization of over 1.7 million Catholic men around the globe. Men who band together as brothers to help one another in times of distress, sickness, and death.
But the Knights do have secret ceremonies?
Yes, that is true our ceremonials are kept as a closely guarded secret. These ceremonies
have been handed down to us from the earliest days of the Knights and they have very important meanings that would be lost on a candidate that has prior knowledge of the doings of the ceremony. While the ceremonies are secret, our works are public.
Why so secretive? Can I not tell my wife what “goes on” at meetings and such?
While our ceremonies are in fact kept secret, our meetings and our public works are not. Meetings, however, can only be attended by our members. During the monthly business meetings we discuss upcoming projects and the things we are doing that are meant to benefit the Parish and the community, so keeping them secret wouldn’t be in our best interest. And, yes, you can tell your wife about our discussions on past and upcoming events.
I have seen the Knights in church all decked out in the hats and capes and swords. What is that all about?
What you have witnessed is known as the Honor Guard. It is made up of only Fourth Degree Knights (the Patriotic Degree) and is the most visible form of the K of C . The Honor Guard is used at special occasions such as Masses in honor of Conformation, Weddings, and Funerals or to honor a milestone of achievement or special visits of the Bishop.
Do the Knights of Columbus get involved in political activity?
Our bi-laws forbid any partisan politics in our meetings; however we do get involved with issues that many people may believe to be political but in fact are moral issues. We would include in this support for a “Culture of Life” and a humanitarian policy on immigration. Other notable accomplishments would be the adding of “under God” to the pledge of allegiance, and (of course) the recognition of Columbus Day as a national holiday.
Who are some of the more “famous” Knights I might have heard of?
President John F. Kennedy was a 4th degree, his brother Senator Ted Kennedy was a 3rd Degree Knight. Others include: * Babe Ruth * Vince Lombardi * Al Smith * Jeb Bush * Dozens of politicians and public figures * Archbishop Gregory * Cardinals, Bishops and Priests too numerous to list
* Saints , Blessed and Venerable Church figures * And more than forty of the Heroes of 911
Whom do I contact to join?
While approaching any Knight at Church would do , the best way is to contact our Council Membership director, Roger Giudici by email at Rogerguidici@comcast.net or by phone at xxx-xxx-xxxx.