What We Do
Since our founding in 1882 by Father Michael J. McGivney, the Knights of Columbus has been in solidarity with the Catholic Church, the Holy Father and the bishops, priests and religious in union with him. We sprang from a Catholic parish and it is in the thousands of Catholic parishes where the good works of the Knights of Columbus are most manifest. Support for the Catholic Church is a hallmark of Knights of Columbus activity at all levels of the organization. In 1996, Knights Orderwide raised and distributed more than $44 million to Church groups and in support of programs at the international, national and local levels. More than 23 million hours of time were donated to the Church by local Knights and families in 1996.
CATHOLIC INFORMATION SERVICEThe Catholic Information Service of the Knights of Columbus was founded in 1947 to provide free and low-cost Catholic publications for mission countries, parishes, schools, retreat houses, military installations, correctional facilities, legislatures, the health-care community, and to individuals - Catholic and non-Catholic alike - who request them. We also offer a correspondence course in the essentials of the faith, aimed at both converts and the interested Catholic. Today, the Catholic Information Service retains its original commission to spread the faith to the four corners of the earth. Since its beginning tens of millions of pamphlets on the Catholic faith have been distributed throughout the world, while thousands of individuals have enrolled in the correspondence course.
Perhaps you've noticed those advertisements in your Sunday newspaper's magazine supplement offering pamphlets on the Catholic Church and its teachings and faith practices. Well, the Knights of Columbus is responsible for those advertisements, too. Our Catholic Information Service offers dozens of pamphlets on Church teaching and practice to interested Catholics and non-Catholics alike. We also offer a home-study course for people who want to learn more about the Church, either as the first step toward becoming a Catholic or just for personal enrichment.
VATICAN/CHURCH SUPPORTThe Vatican paid the highest possible tribute to the Order in choosing it, along with the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y., to co-host the Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II in October 1995 during his pastoral visit to the United Nations and several East Coast cities. The October 6 Mass at Aqueduct in Brooklyn, N.Y., has been described as the most significant chapter in the history of the Knights of Columbus because it is the first time that a lay organization has been chosen to co-host a papal liturgy.
Support for the Holy Father and the Church universal takes many forms. At the request of Pope John Paul II, the Knights of Columbus financed the restoration of the facade of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City between 1985 and 1987. Visitors to the Supreme Council office in New Haven can tour a display that highlights this effort to renew one of Christendom's and Western culture's most important structures. A copper-clad cross that had formerly nestled in the arms of a statue of Christ the Redeemer atop the basilica for 350 years is also on display in the international headquarters.
In 1982, during the Order's centennial celebration, the Order presented a check for $1.2 million to then Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli. The check represented the first annual earnings from the $20 million Knights of Columbus Vicarius Christi Fund, established by the Order to help fund the pope's personal charities. Since 1982, more than $24.2 million has been given to the pope from this fund, and its corpus remains intact.
In 1995, the Order pledged $5 million to the planned Pope John Paul II Cultural Center to be built in Washington, D.C.
The Knights of Columbus has been especially honored to serve the Holy Father in his mission of evangelization and preparation for the third Christian millennium. Current initiatives include financing the satellite costs for televising major events from the Vatican, such as the annual Christmas and Easter Masses; subsidizing the purchase of a state-of-the-art mobile television production van for Centro Televisivo Vaticano to enable coverage of papal audiences and the pope's pastoral visits in Italy; the donation of a portable organ to the Sistine Chapel; and supporting the efforts of national bishops' conferences wherever Knights of Columbus reside. In Canada the conference of Catholic bishops receives each year the interest on the $1 million Bishop de Laval Fund established by the Canadian Knights.
For 15 years the Order has sponsored workshops in Dallas, Texas, for bishops of the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and the Philippines on topics associated with critical medical-moral issues. The program is operated by the Pope John XXIII Center of Braintree, Massachusetts, and has been completely funded by the Order in an aggregate amount of $4.1 million.
Continuing a long and cherished relationship, the Order has been privileged to express solidarity in a variety of ways with Mother Teresa and the apostolate of her Missionaries of Charity to the poorest of the poor. In addition to financial support, the Order has provided printing services of prayer books and holy cards, religious articles for her chapels, and pays phone and postage costs. Knights in cities where Mother Teresa's sisters are active have also regularly volunteered their services at AIDS hospices, soup kitchens and other facilities they run. The Order's first-ever Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope) Award for service to the Church and mankind was given to Mother Teresa in 1992.
Cardinal John O'Connor of New York received the second Gaudium et Spes Award in 1994.
In 1996 Knights volunteered 23,007,812 hours of service to the Catholic Church. In addition, Knights Orderwide raised and distributed $44,641,405 for Church facilities, Catholic schools, religious education programs, seminarians, seminaries and projects to promote and sustain vocations to the Church.
CHURCH MORTGAGE LOAN PROGRAMKnights of Columbus has a first mortgage loan program to assist parishes and Catholic schools in building and renovation projects. It is also available for diocesan building.
The program is a conventional commercial program which requires documentation, including the filing of a mortgage on the land records, similar to that which is required by commercial lenders.
Our interest rate is below prevailing market rates for these mortgages and is fixed for the life of the loan, which usually has a term of 15 years.
Application materials and guidelines explaining the mortgage program are available from the Law Department of the Knights of Columbus at 1 Columbus Plaza, New Haven, Connecticut 06510-3326. Telephone inquiries should be directed to Denis Killeen of our legal staff at 203-772-2130.
JOHN PAUL II INSTITUTE FOR STUDIES ON MARRIAGE AND FAMILYSince 1988, the Knights of Columbus has played a key role in expanding the work of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Lateran University in Rome by making possible its North American campus in Washington D.C. Students have since graduated from the institute with licentiate, master's or doctorate degrees and are active in a variety of family-life ministries and teaching positions in Catholic high schools, colleges, seminaries and graduate schools. Many priests, religious and lay persons have also benefited from the institute's programs of continuing theological education.
VOCATIONSState and local council vocations committees foster vocations through prayers, donations and other activities. Since 1977, the Refund Support Vocations Program (RSVP) has contributed more than $13 million to thousands of seminarians and postulants. Under this program local councils donate $500 to a seminarian or postulant and are refunded $100 by the Supreme Council. As important as the financial support, if not more so, is the moral support Knights give these "adopted" seminarians and postulants. Knights and their families write letters of support, offer prayers and invite them to attend council-sponsored socials and other events. The Order's $8 million Vocations Scholarship Fund provides annual $2,500 scholarships to seminarians in theology on the basis of need. Each month Columbia features a vocations ad on its back cover.
In addition, the Order has established funds to support the mission of the North American College, the Pontifical Canadian College, the Pontifical Mexican College, all in Rome, and the American College in Louvain, Belgium. Other programs provide grants for advanced studies for priests from the Philippines and from Puerto Rico.
'KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS'Each year the Knights of Columbus supports the "Keep Christ in Christmas" campaign to remind people that Christmas is above all else a holy day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. To help deliver the "Keep Christ in Christmas" message the Order offers a variety of posters and other materials as well as public service announcements (PSAs) for radio and television. Local K of C units also participate in "Light Up for Christ" ceremonies held on the first Tuesday of December at 8 p.m. local time during which Nativity scenes or Christmas trees are illuminated.
ROSARY PROGRAMEvery new member of the Knights of Columbus receives a rosary. Each month through this program thousands of rosaries, which have been blessed by the Order's supreme chaplain, Bishop Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn, N.Y., are distributed. In addition, the Supreme Council office offers rosary prayer cards, audiocassettes featuring the praying of the rosary and booklets on this prayer.
MARIAN HOUR OF PRAYER PROGRAMThe Knights of Columbus has sponsored Marian Hour of Prayer programs since 1979. As part of this program the Order distributes pilgrim icons depicting Mary under her various titles, which travel on a yearlong journey from council to council where they serve as the focal point of prayer services held in council homes, parishes or other locations. Since the program began nearly 10.3 million people have participated in approximately 60,000 prayer services.