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Knights Of Columbus Catholic Citizenship Essay Contest 2013

Welcome to the Dedham Knights of Columbus Council # 234 website!

CharityUnity, Fraternity andPatriotism are the guiding principles of the Knights of Columbus.  We are your brothers, cousins, and neighbors.

A Knights of Columbus council can work wonders; in fact, with its many programs it can help change the community, town, city or neighborhood in which you live. Each local council evaluates the needs of their community and implements those programs and activities that are most needed in their area.

The Knights of Columbus Service Programs activities are designed to engage the council members in various activities across a host of categories. If you are interested in learning more about this local council please email: dedhamkofc234@gmail.com.

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363 Washington St
Dedham, Massachusetts, MA 02026

Not to be confused with Knights of St Columba.

The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholicfraternal service organization. Founded by Father Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1882, it was named in honor of the explorerChristopher Columbus. Originally serving as a mutual benefit society to working class and immigrant Catholics in the United States, it developed into a fraternal benefit society dedicated to providing charitable services, including war and disaster relief, actively defending Catholicism in various nations, and promoting Catholic education.[1][2][3] The Knights also support the Catholic Church's positions on public policy issues, and are participants in the New Evangelization.

There are 1,918,122 members[4] in nearly 15,000 councils,[5] with 302 councils on college campuses.[4] Membership is limited to "practical" (meaning practicing) Catholic men aged 18 or older, and consists of four different degrees, each exemplifying a different principle of the Order.[6][7][nb 1] The Order is a member of the International Alliance of Catholic Knights.[8] Councils are chartered in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and around the world.[9] The Knights' official junior organization, the Columbian Squires, has more than 5,000 circles, and the Order's patriotic arm, the Fourth Degree, has more than 2,500 assemblies.[10] The current Supreme Knight is Carl A. Anderson.

Pope John Paul II referred to the Order as the "strong right arm of the Church" for their support for Church doctrines and Church communities, as well as for their philanthropic and charitable efforts.[11] In 2015, the Order gave over US$175 million directly to charity and performed over 73.5 million man-hours of voluntary service,[12] part of the $1.55 billion given to charity over the past 10 years.[13] The Knight's insurance program has more than 2 million insurance contracts, totaling more than US$100 billion of life insurance in force.[14] This is backed by $21 billion in assets as of 2014.[14] This places it on the Forbes 1000 list.[14]


Main article: History of the Knights of Columbus

Early years[edit]

Michael J. McGivney, an Irish-American Catholic priest, founded the Knights of Columbus in New Haven, Connecticut. He gathered a group of men from St. Mary's Parish for an organizational meeting on October 2, 1881. Several months later, the Order was incorporated under the laws of the state of Connecticut on March 29, 1882.[2] Although its first councils were all in Connecticut, the Order spread throughout New England and the United States in subsequent years.

The Order was intended to be a mutual benefit society. These organizations, which combined social aspects and ritual, were especially flourishing during the latter third of the nineteenth century, the so-called "Golden Age of Fraternalism.[15] As a parish priest in an immigrant community, McGivney saw what could happen to a family when the main income earner died. This was before most government support programs were established. He wanted to provide insurance to care for the widows and orphans left behind. In his own life, he temporarily had to suspend his seminary studies to care for his family after his father died.

Because of religious and ethnic discrimination, Roman Catholics in the late 19th century were regularly excluded from labor unions, popular fraternal organizations, and other organized groups that provided such social services.Papal encyclicals issued by the Holy See prohibited Catholics from participating as lodge members within Freemasonry. McGivney intended to create an alternative organization. He also believed that Catholicism and fraternalism could be compatible and wanted to found a society to encourage men to be proud of their American-Catholic heritage.

The original insurance system devised by McGivney gave a deceased Knight's widow a $1,000 death benefit. Each member was assessed $1 upon a death, and when the number of Knights grew beyond 1,000, the assessment decreased according to the rate of increase. Each member, regardless of age, was assessed equally. As a result, younger, healthier members could expect to pay more over the course of their lifetimes than those men who joined when they were older. There was also a Sick Benefit Deposit for members who fell ill and could not work. Each sick Knight was entitled to draw up to $5 a week for 13 weeks (roughly equivalent to $125.75 in 2009 dollars[21]). If he remained sick after that, the council to which he belonged determined the sum of money given to him.

From the earliest days of the Order, members wanted to create a form of hierarchy and recognition for senior members. As early as 1886, Supreme Knight James T. Mullen had proposed a patriotic degree with its own symbolic dress. About 1,400 members attended the first exemplification of the Fourth Degree at the Lenox Lyceum in New York on February 22, 1900. The event was infused with Catholic and patriotic symbols, imagery that "celebrated American Catholic heritage." In 1903, the Board of Directors officially approved a new degree exemplifying patriotism Order-wide, using the New York City model.

Early 20th century[edit]

To prove that good Catholics could also be good Americans, during World War I the Knights supported the war effort and the troops. It was hoped that this would help mitigate some of the American Anti-Catholicism. Supreme Knight James A. Flaherty proposed to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson that the Order establish soldiers' welfare centers in the U.S. and abroad. The organization already had experience, having provided similar services to troops encamped on the Mexican border during Pershing's expedition of 1916.[27] With the slogan "Everyone Welcome, Everything Free," the "huts" became recreation/service centers for doughboys regardless of race or religion. They were staffed by "secretaries," commonly referred to as "Caseys" (for K of C) who were generally men above the age of military service. The centers provided basic amenities not readily available, such as stationery, hot baths, and religious services.[28] After the war, the Knights became involved in education, occupational training, and employment programs for the returning troops.[27]

As a result of this, "the Order was infused with the self-confidence that it could respond with organizational skill and with social and political power to any need of Church and society. In this sense, the K. of C. reflected the passage of American Catholicism from an immigrant Church to a well-established and respected religious denomination which had proven its patriotic loyalty in the acid test of the Great War."[13]

During the nadir of American race relations, a bogus oath was circulated claiming that Fourth Degree Knights swore to exterminate Freemasons and Protestants. The Ku Klux Klan, which was growing into a newly powerful force through the 1920s, spread the bogus oath far and wide as part of their contemporary campaign against Catholics.[33][34] Numerous state councils and the Supreme Council believed publication would stop if the KKK were assessed fines or punished by jail time assessed and began suing distributors for libel. As a result, the KKK ended its publication of the false oath. As the Order did not wish to appear motivated by a "vengeful spirit," it asked for leniency from judges when sentencing offenders.

After World War I, many native-born Americans had a revival of concerns about assimilation of immigrants and worries about "foreign" values; they wanted public schools to teach children to be American. Numerous states drafted laws designed to use schools to promote a common American culture, and in 1922, the voters of Oregon passed the Oregon Compulsory Education Act. The law was primarily aimed at eliminating parochial schools, including Catholic schools.[36][37] The Compulsory Education Act required almost all children in Oregon between eight and sixteen years of age to attend public school by 1926.Roger Nash Baldwin, an associate director of the ACLU and a personal friend of then-Supreme Advocate and future Supreme Knight Luke E. Hart, offered to join forces with the Order to challenge the law. The Knights of Columbus pledged an immediate $10,000 to fight the law and any additional funds necessary to defeat it. The case became known as Pierce v. Society of Sisters and in a unanimous decision, the Court held that the act was unconstitutional and that parents, not the state, had the authority to educate children as they thought best.[40]

Postwar social unrest was also related to the difficulties of absorbing the veterans from the war in the job market. Competition among groups for work heightened tensions. In the 1920s there was growing anti-Semitism in the United States related to economic competition and the fears of social change from decades of changed immigration, a lingering anti-German sentiment left over from World War I, and anti-black violence erupted in numerous locations as well. To combat the animus targeted at racial and religious minorities, including Catholics, the Order formed a historical commission which published a series of books on their contributions, among other activities. The "Knights of Columbus Racial Contributions Series" of books included three titles: The Gift of Black Folk, by W. E. B. Du Bois, The Jews in the Making of America by George Cohen, and The Germans in the Making of America by Frederick Schrader.

Recent history[edit]

Today, according to Massimo Faggioli, the Knights of Columbus are "'an extreme version' of a post-Vatican II phenomenon, the rise of discrete lay groups that have become centers of power themselves."[13] As the Order and its charitable works grew, so did its prominence within the Church. The Supreme Board of Directors was invited to hold their April meeting at the Vatican in 1978, and the Board and their wives were received by Pope Paul VI.Pope John Paul I's first audience with a layman was with Supreme Knight Dechant, and Pope John Paul the Great met with Dechant three days after his installation.

Pope John Paul the Great traveled to the Dominican Republic and Mexico in 1978, and Dechant was invited to attened and welcome the Pope to the Americas. During the pope's 1979 visit to the United States, the Supreme Officers and Board were the only lay organization to receive an audience.

In 1997, the cause for McGivney's canonization was opened in the Archdiocese of Hartford. It was placed before the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in 2000. The Father Michael J. McGivney Guild was formed in 1997 to promote his cause, and it currently has more than 140,000 members.[44] Membership in the Knights of Columbus does not automatically make one a member of the guild, nor is membership restricted to Knights; members must elect to join. On March 15, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI approved a decree recognizing McGivney's "heroic virtue," significantly advancing the priest's process toward sainthood. McGivney may now be referred to as the "Venerable Servant of God." If the cause is successful, he would be the first priest born in the United States to be canonized as a saint.[45]

Degrees and principles[edit]

The Order is dedicated to the principles of Charity, Unity, Fraternity, and Patriotism. A First Degree exemplification ceremony, by which a man joins the Order, explicates the virtue of charity. He is said to be a First Degree Knight of Columbus; after participating in the subsequent degrees, each of which focuses on another virtue, he rises to that status. Upon reaching the Third Degree, a gentleman is a full member. Priests do not participate directly in Degree exemplifications as laymen do, but rather take the degree by observation.[citation needed]

The first ritual handbook, printed in 1885, contained only sections teaching Unity and Charity. Supreme Knight Mullen, along with primary ritual author Daniel Colwell, believed that the initiation ceremony should be held in three sections "in accord with the 'Trinity of Virtues, Charity, Unity, and Brotherly love.'" The third section, expounding Fraternity, was officially adopted in 1891.

Fourth degree[edit]

After taking their third degree, knights are eligible to receive their fourth degree, the primary purpose of which is to foster the spirit of patriotism and to encourage active Catholic citizenship. Fourth degree members, in addition to being members of their individual councils, are also members of Fourth Degree assemblies which typically comprise members of several councils. As of 2013[update], there were 3,109 assemblies worldwide.[47]

Fewer than 18% of Knights join the Fourth Degree, which is optional. Its members are referred to as "Sir Knight." Of a total 1,703,307 Knights in 2006, there were 292,289 Fourth Degree Knights.[10] This number increased to 335,132 in 2013.[47] A waiting period of one year from the time the third degree was taken was eliminated in 2013, and now any Third Degree Knight is eligible to join the Fourth Degree.[47]

A new Military Overseas Europe Special District was established in 2013 to oversee assemblies of military personnel serving on that continent.[47][48] Over 100 Department of Defense civilian employees and active-duty personnel based in Germany, Italy, and Britain took part in a special Fourth Degree Exemplification Ceremony at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany in 2013.[47][48] In that year exemplifications were also held in Camp Zama, Japan, and Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, Korea, where there are existing assemblies.[48]

Knights volunteer at 136 of the 153 Veteran's Affairs Medical Centers.[47]

Color corps[edit]

Fourth Degree Knights may optionally purchase and wear the full regalia and join an assembly's Color Corps. The Color Corps is the most visible arm of the Knights, as they are often seen in parades and other local events wearing their colorful regalia. Official dress for the Color Corps is a black tuxedo, baldric, white gloves, cape, and naval chapeau. In warm climates and during warm months, a white dinner jacket may be worn, if done as a unit.[49]

Baldrics are worn from the right shoulder to left hip and are color specific by nation. In the United States, Panama, and the Philippines, baldrics are red, white, and blue. Red and white baldrics are used in Canada and Poland; red, white, and green in Mexico; and blue and white in Guatemala.[50] Service baldrics include a scabbard for a sword and are worn over the coat while social baldrics are worn under the coat.[50]

On August 1, 2017, at the 135th annual Supreme Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson announced a new uniform of the Fourth Degree to include a blue blazer with the emblem as a patch and on the buttons, a white shirt, a Fourth Degree tie, dark gray slacks and a beret with the emblem.[51][nb 2] According to some Catholic news sources, the new uniform is considered controversial by some of its members, drawing criticism for its attempt to make its members appear (at first glance) to be military veterans as opposed to a fraternal religious group.[52]

Faithful navigators and past faithful navigators are permitted to carry a white handled silver sword. Masters and vice supreme masters, as well as former masters and former vice supreme masters, are also denoted by their gold swords.[49]

Charitable giving[edit]

YearUS dollars donated[47]Volunteer hours donated[47]

Charity is the foremost principle of the Knights of Columbus. According to one commentator, "there is hardly a corner of the Catholic world where the resources of this international force have not left an impression."[13] This has allowed the Knights and its high ranking officers to "become powerful and influential in ways unimaginable in 1882... and no other lay group can match the Knights' ability to leave its mark on the church."[13]

In 2015, the Order gave more than $175 million directly to charity and performed over 73.5 million man hours in volunteer service.[13] According to Independent Sector, this service has a value of more than $1.7 billion. The total charitable contributions, from the past decade, ending December 31, 2015 rose to $15 billion. Finally in 2015, Knights of Columbus, on an average per member basis, contributed 38 hours of community service.[53] Much of the financial effort went to initiatives of the Vatican and the U.S. bishops.[13]

More than $1.2 million was donated to Habitat for Humanity in 2013, in addition to 1.4 million volunteer hours.[47] Over 80,500 winter coats were distributed in 2012 to children in cold weather areas as well.[47] Since 2009, the Order has spent $38 million to install ultrasound machines in hospitals in poor communities and poor countries.[54] The very first ever national blood drive was sponsored by the Order in 1938.[47] In 2013, council blood drives attracted more than 423,000 donors.[47]

United in Charity, a general, unrestricted endowment fund, was introduced at the 2004 Supreme Council meeting to support and ensure the overall long-term charitable and philanthropic goals of the Order. The fund is wholly managed, maintained, and operated by Knights of Columbus Charities, Inc., a 501(c)(8) charitable organization.[55] Before United in Charity was formed, all requests for funds were met with the general funds of the Order or in combination with specific appeals.[56]

Global Catholic donations[edit]

In 1979, each Knight was assessed a 50 cent per capita tax to establish a $500,000 Luke E. Hart Memorial Fund for the "purposes of promoting increased devotion to Our Blessed Mother and for the preservation of the" Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in perpetuity.

The multimillion-dollar Pacem in Terris Fund aids the Catholic Church's efforts for peace in the Middle East. A further $20 million went to church facilities and $7.4 million to Catholic schools from state and local councils.[47] Since 2014, the Order raised more than $17 million to help Christian refugees, with a focus on Iraq and Syria.[58]

Vatican and bishops[edit]

The Vicarius Christi Fund has an endowment of $20 million and has earned more than $35 million since its establishment in 1981 for the Pope's personal charities. The Vox Clara Committee received $100,000 in support of its efforts to translate liturgical texts.[13]

The Knights give to individual churches and diocese, but is also a major donor to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.[13] They have spent more than $1.4 million between 2010 and 2014 to provide workshops for the bishops coordinated by the National Catholic Bioethics Center.[13]

Since 1977, the Order has provided funding to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.


In 2012, $1.8 million was given by state and local councils to seminaries, with an additional $5.9 million in direct assistance to seminarians.[47] The Order also has eleven separate funds totaling $18 million to assist men and women who are discerning religious vocations pay tuition and other expenses.[60]

Catholic education[edit]

See also: History of the Knights of Columbus and The Catholic University of America

The Order funded a message from the Pope to the delegates of the 1979 National Catholic Education Association convention in which the pontiff stressed the importance of Catholic education. The same year, the Supreme Board voted to fund the Conference's Advisory Committee on Public Policy and Catholic Schools.

In 1979, the Supreme Board voted to fund the Conference's Advisory Committee on Public Policy and Catholic Schools. In 1980, each member in the United States and Canada was assessed $1.00 to raise $1 million for the newly established Father Michael J. McGivney Memorial Fund for New Iniatives in Catholic Education. The fund was designed to support the National Catholic Education Association's research efforts. The Association expressed their appreciation for this and other efforts to promote Catholic education by awarding the Order the C. ALbert Koob Merit Award in 1981.

Catholic communications[edit]

Satellite Uplink Program[edit]

Since the 1960s, the Knights' Satellite Uplink Program has provided funding to broadcast a number of papal events, including the annual Easter and Christmas Masses, as well as the World Day of Peace in Assisi, World Youth Days, the opening of the Holy Door at St. Peter's Basilica for the Millennial Jubilee, Pope John Paul II's visit to Nazareth, and several other events.[13][63] In missionary territories the Order also pays for the satellite downlink.[63][13]

The Satellite Uplink project was originally planned to telecast three papal events each year. However, the program expanded when, upon the death of Pope Paul VI, Bishop Andrew-Maria Deskur, president of the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications, telegramed Supreme Knight Dechant asking if the Order would pay to broadcast the funeral and following conclave and investiture of the next pope. The same request was made shortly thereafter following the death of Pope John Paul I. It is estimated that each telecast was seen by more than 800 million people.

In recent years a contribution of $100,000 was made to support the Holy See's strategic communications office.[13] It also purchased "a mobile unit with recording and transmitting equipment to enable Vatican television to broadcast in high definition."[13]

Vatican Film Library and papal video coverage[edit]

In 1977, Bishop Deskur asked the Order for funding for two additional projects, the Vatican Film Library and Radio Veritas, both of which were approved. The film library was designed to collect all the known video footage of popes for use by journalists, scholars, and others. This resulted in the creation of the Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library at Saint Louis University.

Following Pope John Paul the Great trip to Mexico in 1978, the Knights produced an English language video documenting the visit. The following year the pontiff returned to Poland. Bishop Paul Marcinkus, President of the Institute for the Works of Religion, later told the Order that raw footage of the trip existed, but there were no funds available to edit it into a usable format. The Knights provided the money, and the videos were shown on Polish television and in movie theaters. During his visit to the United States in October of the same year, the Order once again provided funding to video record it at the request of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Catholic media[edit]

In 1977, Bishop Andrew-Maria Deskur, president of the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications, requested funding for Radio Veritas, a program to broadcast religious programming to the one-quarter of the world's population living behind the Bamboo Curtain in atheistic communist nations.

The Knights are major sponsors of the Eternal Word Television Network, the Association for Catholic Information, the Catholic News Agency, and Crux.[13] According to John L. Allen Jr., Crux's editor, while the Knights sponsor a major portion of their budget, the Order has no control over content.[13]

The disabled[edit]

The Knights have a tradition of supporting those with physical and developmental disabilities. More than $382 million has been given over the past three decades to groups and programs that support the intellectually and physically disabled,[10] with $4.1 million donated in 2012 alone.[47]

One of the largest recipients of funds in this area is the Special Olympics.[47] In 2012, there were more than 107,000 Knights who donated 315,000 hours of service at nearly 20,000 Special Olympics events.[47] Individual councils donated $3.7 million to the Special Olympics in 2013.[47] The Order's support for the Special Olympics goes back to the very first games in 1968.[47]

In 2012, more than 5,000 wheelchairs were distributed in 10 countries in a partnership with the Global Wheelchair Mission.[47]

Disaster relief[edit]

Aside from their other charitable activities, The Knights of Columbus gave significant charitable contributions to the people of Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in January 2010. The Order also donated 1,000 wheelchairs to the people of Haiti in partnership with the Global Wheelchair Mission.[65] Recognizing that the need was still great in Haiti some seven months after the disaster, the Knights of Columbus partnered with Project Medishare in August 2010 for an initiative entitled, "Healing Haiti's Children." The initiative, backed by a more than $2.5 million commitment from the Knights of Columbus provides free prosthetic limbs and a minimum of two years of rehab to every child who suffered an amputation from injuries sustained during the earthquake.[47][66] As of 2013[update], more than 800 children had already been aided by the program.[47]

After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, a local council in Newtown, Connecticut, established a program asking people to pray a minimum of three Hail Marys for the victims and their families. Over 100,000 people pledged to say 3.25 million prayers.[47]

More than $500,000 was donated to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, and $202,000 to victims of the April 2012 tornadoes in Oklahoma.[47] After West Fertilizer Company explosion in Texas, nearly a quarter of a million dollars were raised.[47] In total, more than $3.3 million were donated by individual councils for disaster relief in 2012.[47]

Insurance program[edit]


YearReserve Fund Assets

The original insurance system devised by McGivney gave a deceased Knight's widow a $1,000 death benefit. Each member was assessed $1 upon a death, and when the number of Knights grew beyond 1,000, the assessment decreased according to the rate of increase. Each member, regardless of age, was assessed equally. As a result, younger, healthier members could expect to pay more over the course of their lifetimes than those men who joined when they were older. There was also a Sick Benefit Deposit for members who fell ill and could not work. Each sick Knight was entitled to draw up to $5 a week for 13 weeks (roughly equivalent to $125.75 in 2009 dollars[21]). If he remained sick after that, the council to which he belonged determined the sum of money given to him.

The need for a reserve fund for times of epidemic was seen from the earliest days, but it was rejected several times before finally being established in 1892.

Since its first loan to St. Rose Church in Meriden, Connecticut in the late 1890s, the Knights of Columbus have made loans to parishes, dioceses, and other Catholic institutions. By 1954, over $300 million had been loaned and the program "never lost one cent of principal or interest."

In the post World War II era, the interest rates on long-term bonds dipped below levels at which the Order's insurance program could sustain itself, and Supreme Knight Hart moved the order into a more aggressive program of investing in real estate. Under his leadership, the Order established a lease-back investment program in which the Order wold buy a piece of property and then lease it back to the original owner "upon terms generally that would bring to our Order a net rental equal to the normal mortgage interest rate."

Late in 1953 it was learned that the land upon which Yankee Stadium was built was for sale. On December 17, 1953, the Order purchased the property for $2.5 million and then leased it back for 28 years at $182,000 a year with the option to renew the lease for three additional terms of 15 years at $125,000 a year. In 1971 the City of New York took the land by eminent domain.[71]

Between 1952 and 1962, 18 pieces of land were purchased as part of the lease-back program for a total of $29 million. During this time, the amount of money invested in common stock also increased.

Modern program[edit]

YearInsurance in
force (billions)

The Order offers a modern, professional insurance operation with more than $100 billion of life insurance policies in force and $19.8 billion in assets as of June 2013[update],[72] a figure more than double the 2000 levels.[47][72] Nearly 80,000 life certificates were issued in 2013, almost 30,000 more than the Order's closest competitor, to bring the total to 1.73 million.[47] The program has a $1.8 billion surplus.[47]

Over $286 million in death benefits were paid in 2012 and $1.7 billion were paid between 2000 and 2010.[47] This is large enough to rank 49th on the A. M. Best list of all life insurance companies in North America.[73] Since the founding of the Order, $3.5 billion in death benefits have been paid.[74] Premiums in 2012 were nearly $1.2 billion, and dividends paid out totaled more than $274 million.[47] Over the same time period, annuity deposits rose 4.2%, compared to an 8% loss for the industry as a whole.[47]

Every day in 2012 more than $10 million was invested, for a total of $2.7 billion on the year, and an annual income of $905 million.[47] The Order maintains a two prong investment strategy. A company must first be a sound investment before stock in it is purchased, and secondly the company's activities must not conflict with Catholic social teaching.[47] Citing the awards they have won, the Order calls themselves "champions of ethical investing."[13] The Order also provides mortgages to churches and Catholic schools at "very competitive rates" through its ChurchLoan program.[47]

Products include permanent and term life insurance, as well as annuities, long term care insurance, and disability insurance.[72] The insurance program is not a separate business offered by the Order to others but is exclusively for the benefit of members and their families.[75] According to the Fortune 1000 list, the Knights of Columbus ranked 880 in total revenue in 2017[76] and, with more than 1,500 agents, was 925th in size in 2015.[47] All agents are members of the Order.[citation needed]

The Order's insurance program is the most highly rated program in North America.[47] For 40 consecutive years, the Order has received A. M. Best's highest rating, A++.[47][77] Additionally, the Order is certified by the Insurance Marketplace Standards Association for ethical sales practices.[10] Standard & Poor's downgraded the insurance program's financial strength/credit rating from AAA to AA+ in August 2011 not due to the Order's financial strength, but due to its lowering of the long-term sovereign credit rating of the United States to AA+.[78][79][nb 3] Additionally, the insurance program has a low 3.5% lapse rate of the 1.9 million members and their families who are insured.[47][72]



As of 2015[update] there were 1,918,122 knights, and membership has grown each year for 44 consecutive years. Each member belongs to one of 15,342 councils around the world. In addition, there is a "round table"[nb 4] presence in Lithuania.[47] Membership is limited to men who are 18 years of age or older and are practicing Catholics, i.e. "an applicant or member accepts the teaching authority of the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals, aspires to live in accord with the precepts of the Catholic Church, and is in good standing in the Catholic Church."[7]

Knights of Columbus councils, Fourth Degree assemblies, and Columbian Squire circles have similar officers. In the councils, officer titles are prefixed with "Worthy," while in assemblies officer titles are prefixed with "Faithful." In addition to the Columbian Squires' officers listed below, there is an adult position of "Chief Counselor" that helps oversee the circle.[81]

Grand KnightNavigatorChief Squire
Chaplain*Friar*Father Prior
Deputy Grand KnightCaptainDeputy Chief Squire
ChancellorAdmiralMarshal Squire
RecorderScribeNotary Squire
Financial Secretary**ComptrollerBursar Squire
TreasurerPurserBursar Squire
WardenPilotMarshal Squire
Inside GuardInner SentinelSentry
Outside GuardOuter SentinelSentry
Trustee (3 Year)Trustee (3 Year)nonexistent
Trustee (2 Year)Trustee (2 Year)nonexistent
Trustee (1 Year)Trustee (1 Year)nonexistent
nonexistentColor Corp Commander*nonexistent

(*Appointed annually by each council's Grand Knight or assembly's Navigator)

(**Appointed for a 3-year term by the Supreme Knight)

Supreme Council[edit]

The Supreme Council is the governing body of the Order and is composed of elected representatives from each jurisdiction. The Supreme Council comprises[82]

  • The State Deputy and the last living Past State Deputy of each State Council.[nb 5]
  • The Territorial Deputy of each district not under the jurisdiction of a State Council.[nb 6]
  • Past Supreme Knights of the Order.
  • Supreme Officers ex officio during their terms of office.
  • Members of the Board of Directors other than the Supreme Officers.
  • One representative from each State Council for the first two thousand insurance members, and one representative for the first two thousand associate members, and one representative for each additional two thousand insurance members or major part thereof and one representative for each additional two thousand associate members or major part thereof.[nb 7]

Board and officers[edit]

In a manner similar to shareholders at an annual meeting, the Supreme Council elects insurance members to serve three year terms on the Supreme Board of Directors. The 24 elected members, plus the Supreme Chaplain and Past Supreme Knights who constitute the Board, appoint a Supreme Chaplain and a Supreme Warden. They then choose from their own number the other senior operating officials of the Order, including the Supreme Knight and Deputy Supreme Knight, a Supreme Secretary, a Supreme Treasurer, a Supreme Advocate, and a Supreme Physician, each of whom serves a one year term.[82] The Board must meet at least quarterly.[82]

Directors, other than Supreme Officers or Assistant Supreme Officers, are limited to serving three years.[84] Supreme Officers and Assistant Supreme Officers, other than the Supreme Chaplain, have a mandatory retirement age of 70.[84]

See him through--Help us to help the boys
The Knights paid for the funeral of Pope Paul VI to be televised around the world.
Knights of Columbus headquarters

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