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From its very beginnings, the Knights of Columbus has been committed to Catholic family life, especially to meeting the needs of widows and orphans of members. Truly, the Knights of Columbus has been protecting families for generations through its programs. And not just the families of members. Today the Knights of Columbus is in the forefront of organizations aiming to renew the family and reassert its primacy in these socially difficult and confusing times. Through varied programs of support for family life, the Knights of Columbus champions a model of family and marriage as taught by the Church.


Father Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus and its insurance program in 1882 as a way to help care for widows and orphans. Knights still care. When a Knight dies, council members are there for his widow. They help with funeral arrangements, insurance forms and other paperwork. Widows continue to receive Columbia magazine. Their families are invited to council activities. Widows and their families are also eligible for Supreme Council scholarship, fellowship and student loan programs. Councils hold social events and continue to include the widows and families in their programming. Mass for all deceased Knights is offered each day at the birthplace of the Knights, St. Mary's Church in New Haven, Connecticut.


Many councils have memorial committees. Committee members attend the wakes and funerals of Knights or their family members to pray and show fraternal support. Committee chairmen look for ways the council can help bereaved families. Many councils hold annual memorial Masses for deceased members.


Knights of Columbus support for education is broad and deep. It begins with the thousands of scholarships local councils award each year to elementary, high school and college students. Knights of Columbus are among the foremost contributors of funding, equipment and volunteers to Catholic schools.

The Order regularly supports innovative programs of research and enhancement for Catholic education in the United States and Canada conducted by the National Catholic Educational Association. The $1 million Father Michael J. McGivney Fund for New Initiatives in Catholic Education funds these efforts.

The Supreme Council administers a variety of scholarship, fellowship and student loan programs that each year award hundreds of scholarships to members and children of members in the United States and Canada. Programs for Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Philippines add more scholarships. A student loan program also is available for members, children of members, and seminarians and postulants.


Activities that draw family members closer together are a regular part of each council's schedule. Among them: family corporate Communions, annual marriage vow renewal programs, family rosary or prayer services, K of C family nights, family trips and picnics.


Knights of Columbus Family Week is held annually in August. Councils hold family Masses, picnics, prayer services, dinners and other activities to promote and highlight both family interaction and the family focus of the Knights. Initiation of new members, called exemplifications, are held to commemorate the birth (Aug. 12) and death (Aug. 14) of Father Michael J. McGivney, the Order's founder. Held during Family Week, they help underscore the family focus of the Knights of Columbus.


The Knights of Columbus began its Family of the Month/Family of the Year program in 1978. It is now one of the Order's most successful programs. In each participating council a committee monthly selects a family that makes a significant contribution to the council, Church and community, a family whose members enjoy interacting, who are open and honest and exemplify Christian values. Usually from among their 12 monthly winners, councils select a Family of the Year. Each council may enter its Family of the Year in the program run by its state council. State or provincial winners become entrants in the Knights of Columbus International Family of the Year program run by the Supreme Council. International winners are guests of the Knights of Columbus at its annual meeting in August. The Martin A. Luchansky family of Mount Airy, Md., is the 1995 International Family of the Year. He is grand knight of St. Michael of Poplar Springs Council 10525.

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