Oct. 2, 1881, a small group of men met in the basement of
St. Mary’s Church on Hillhouse Avenue in New Haven,
Connecticut. Called together by their 29-year-old parish
Michael J. McGivney, these men formed a fraternal society
that would one day become the world’s largest Catholic
family fraternal service organization.
McGivney dedicated his life to the spiritual and physical
welfare of others, creating the Knights of Columbus to
provide insurance for the protection of widows and orphans,
and the spiritual benefit of its members and families.
Today, a growing number of schools, medical centers and
social service agencies named for him associate their work
with his charisma, and the Knights of Columbus insures the
lives of more than 1.2 million men, women and children.
charitable works, Father McGivney wanted each Knight's heart
and mind attuned to greater love of God and his Son, both
within the Church and within the family. That is his
Knights, Father McGivney sought to form young Catholic men
into good spouses and fathers. He has become known as
Apostle to the Young and Defender of Christian Family Life.
He saw strong families as the foundation of his parish, of
the Church and of society at large. He was convinced that
the Catholic layman had a unique role in influencing society
and promoting the values found in what Pope John Paul II has
since named the Culture of Life and Civilization of Love.
Father McGivney did not use the vocabulary of the 21st
century, but he espoused the same Gospel values that
Catholics affirm today.
Increasingly, Church leaders realize that part of Father
McGivney's spiritual genius is that nearly a century before
the Second Vatican Council addressed the important role of
the laity in the Church, Father McGivney built a way for
laymen to make a substantial and enduring contribution to
their parishes, communities and physical and spiritual
security of their families. And he saw that by doing so one
parish and community at a time, Catholic families could help
build a better world. He was a man
ahead of his time.
Click here to view a chronological history of the
Knights of Columbus and their faith in action.
Father Michael J.
Thanks to the efforts of Father
Michael J. McGivney, assistant
pastor of St. Mary’s Church in
some of his parishioners, the
Connecticut state legislature on
March 29, 1882, officially
chartered the Knights of
Columbus as a fraternal benefit
society. The Order is still true
to its founding principles of
charity, unity and fraternity.
The Knights was formed to render
financial aid to members and
their families. Mutual aid and
assistance are offered to sick,
disabled and needy members and
their families. Social and
intellectual fellowship is
promoted among members and their
families through educational,
charitable, religious, social
welfare, war relief and public
The history of the Order shows
how the foresight of Father
Michael J. McGivney, whose cause
for sainthood is being
investigated by the Vatican,
brought about what has become
the world's foremost Catholic
fraternal benefit society. The
Order has helped families obtain
economic security and stability
through its life insurance,
annuity and long-term care
programs, and has contributed
time and energy worldwide to
service in communities.
The Knights of Columbus has
grown from several members in
one council to more than 14,000
councils and 1.8 million members
throughout the United States,
Canada, the Philippines, Mexico,
Poland, the Dominican Republic,
Puerto Rico, Panama, the
Bahamas, the Virgin Islands,
Cuba, Guatemala, Guam and
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Columbus Star of the Sea Council #371 Bayonne NJ ∙