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History of Knights of Columbus

Charity, Unity, Fraternity


The Knights of Columbus is a fraternal organization of Catholic gentlemen. The Order was founded in 1881 by Fr. Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Connecticut for the benefit of local Catholic workers, who were discriminated against for their religious beliefs at that time, and who were unable to obtain insurance to protect their families against financial ruin if they were unable to continue their support.

The Knights of Columbus has since grown to be the largest Catholic family fraternal service organization in the world. There are currently over 1.8 million Knights, in over 14000 councils, in 14 nations around the world.

The fundamental principles of the Knights of Columbus are Charity, Unity, and Fraternity, which are the basis of the First, Second, and Third Degrees through which a Knight advances to full Knighthood. A Fourth Degree, based on Patriotism, is in many ways the face of the Order. Fourth Degree Knights are perhaps best known for providing honor guards, in regalia, for Bishops and other clergy, among other duties.

The Knights of Columbus are dedicated to the defense of the Church and its teachings. Examples of this include annual fundraisers for Vocations and support of Respect Life programs. In addition, a strong emphasis is placed on the support of multiple charities, especially those helping the intellectually challenged. Examples include the annual Intellectual Disabilities (Tootsie Roll) Drive, support for Special Olympics, and the Clearbrook Dances hosted by Council 4483.

All practical Catholic gentlemen are invited to join the Knights. Benefits include the availability of insurance programs to protect the Knight and his family, the opportunity to participate in Council activities that help those who most need our support, and the fellowship of the Council meetings.

Types of Membership

KOC offers the opportunity for fellowship with those who are of the same religious beliefs, who recognize the same duty to God, to family and to neighbors and who stand side by side in defense of those beliefs.  Upon acceptance, the applicant becomes a member by participating in a ceremonial known as the First Degree.  Later he advances through the Second Degree and Third Degree ceremonies. After a period of six months, and having achieved both the Second and Third degrees, a Knight is eligible to become a Sir Knight.  This Fourth Degree, also known as THE PATRIOTIC DEGREE, is the highest degree in the Order. Knights who advance to the Fourth Degree join St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Assembly, which includes members from several other Councils as well as Council 4483.



Source: Knights of Columbus Council 4483 website