All Catholic men are encouraged to join the Knights of Columbus. For more information about Murphysboro Council #988 contact Grand Knight Garrett Cook at [email protected] or call the Knights of Columbus Hall at 618-687-3258.
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A Short History of the Knights of Columbus
The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization. Founded in the United States in 1882, it is named in honor of Christopher Columbus. There are more than 1.7 million members in 14,000 councils, with nearly 200 councils on college campuses. Membership is limited to "practical Catholic" men aged 18 or older.
Councils have been chartered throughout the world. The Knights' official junior organization, the Columbian Squires, has over 5,000 Circles. All the Order's ceremonials and business meetings are restricted to members though all other events are open to the public. A promise not to reveal any details of the ceremonials except to an equally qualified Knight is required to ensure their impact and meaning for new members; an additional clause subordinates the promise to that Knight's civil and religious duties.
The Order donates over a million dollars a year to charity and performs countless hours of voluntary service. For their support for the Church and local communities, as well as for their philanthropic efforts, the Order often refers to itself as the "strong right arm of the Church."
The Knights of Columbus was founded by an Irish-American Catholic priest, The Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Connecticut. He gathered a group of men from St. Mary's parish for an organizational meeting on October 2, 1881 and the Order was incorporated under the laws of the U.S. state of Connecticut on March 29, 1882. Though the first councils were all in that state, the Order spread throughout New England and the United States in subsequent years.
The primary motivation for the Order was to be a mutual benefit society. As a parish priest in an immigrant community, McGivney saw what could happen to a family when the breadwinner died and wanted to provide insurance to care for the widows and orphans left behind. He himself had to temporarily leave his seminary studies to care for his family when his father died. In the late 19th century, Catholics were regularly excluded from labor unions and other organizations that provided social services.
In addition, Catholics were either barred from many of the popular fraternal organizations, or, as in the case of Freemasonry, forbidden from joining by the Catholic Church itself. McGivney wished to provide them an alternative. He also believed that Catholicism and fraternalism were not incompatible and wished to found a society that would encourage men to be proud of their American-Catholic heritage.