Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who Are the Knights of Columbus and What Do They Do?
The Knights of Columbus was founded in 1882 by Blessed Michael J. McGivney at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut. The Knights of Columbus is a family fraternal organization of nearly 2 million Catholic men and their families, and is organized into local councils, state councils, and a supreme council. There are 15,900 councils are currently active in the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Poland, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, Guatemala, Guam, Saipan, Lithuania, Ukraine, and South Korea.
The Knights are in solidarity with the Holy Father and our Priests. The Knights work on and contribute to service programs in the areas of Community, Family, Youth, Church, and Council. Globally, in 2017 the Knights donated more than $185MM to charities, volunteering more than 75 million hours of service. The specific programs supported are generally determined by the local and state councils based on local needs, but all have the same purpose and that is the support of these five areas. The core principles of the Knights of Columbus are charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism. We are all united in charity.
Often, parishioners have an impression of the Knights based on one aspect they have seen, such as a K of C pancake breakfast, our monthly Food Drive to benefit Catholic Charities, or donation collections for those with disabilities (KOVAR). While these are some of the highly visible things we do, there is so much more that goes unseen by most people. Much of our work goes without recognition but is extremely rewarding. Supreme and State councils also get involved in large projects such as the restoration of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, satellite broadcasting of Vatican events, and Hurricane/disaster relief.
The Knights of Columbus is an "Experience of a Lifetime."
2. How Do I Become a Knight?
You must be a practicing Catholic man age 18 or older to be eligible to be a Knight. A practicing Catholic is one who is in union with the Holy See and who practices the precepts of the Catholic Church. Men interested in joining the Knights of Columbus can do so at any time during the year. You do not have to wait until a membership drive is held or until someone invites you to join. You can take the initiative to join.
It's easy to become a knight! Go to www.kofc.org and click ‘join’ at the top. During the application, put that you want to join the local council at St. Theresa’s parish (Council #15256).
Not sure? ‘Rush’ the fraternity! Contact any knight and ask about the council. Volunteer to help at any of our community service events. You can also contact us and learn the great things that we do to help our parish and community at email@example.com.
Once you submit your application online, you join the entire order. To join the local council, your application must be approved at a monthly business meeting. Also, you must attend a degree exemplification to be considered a full member of the order.
3. What Are Degrees and Why Are They Important?
Starting in 2020, the Knights adopted a new initiation ceremony for new members. Called the Exemplification of Charity, Unity and Fraternity, it combines the initiation for the former first three degrees into a single ceremony that is open to family, friends, and fellow parishioners. The purpose of the exemplification is to impart and stress the importance of the three principles (Charity, Unity, and Fraternity) to new member Knights.
The fourth degree is about patriotism, and is required before a knight can join an assembly or participate in the color corps. The primary purpose of the Fourth Degree is to encourage active Catholic citizenship and foster the spirit of patriotism in members and the community at large.
4. Who Are the Leaders of the Knights of Columbus?
The leader of each local council is called the Grand Knight. The Grand Knight and other officers of each local council are elected each Columbian year which extends from July 1 to June 30. The 2021-2022 Grand Knight of our local St. Louis Martin Council is Miguel Rodriguez.
Five councils in Loudoun County form a district. The leader of the district is the District Deputy. Our council #15256 is in District 18. Our District Deputy is our very own Cole Slattery. There are 39 districts in Virginia.
The leader of each state council is called a State Deputy. The State Deputy and other officers of each state council are elected each Columbian year which extends from July 1 to June 30. The current State Deputy for the Commonwealth of Virginia is Brian Ripple.
The leader of each Fourth-Degree assembly is called the Faithful Navigator. The Faithful Navigator and other officers of each assembly are elected each Columbian year which extends from July 1 to June 30.
The leader of the entire order is called the Supreme Knight. The Supreme Knight is chosen by a Board of Directors composed of 24 members who have been elected by the Supreme Council. The Supreme Knight is Patrick E. Kelly.
5. What Do the Symbols and Colors on the Knights of Columbus Emblem Mean?
The third-degree Knights of Columbus emblem is the most recognized emblem of the order. It consists of a knight’s shield mounted on a formée Cross.
There is also a fourth-degree emblem that features the Dove, the Cross and the Globe.
6. When Were the Knights of Columbus Founded?
The Knights of Columbus was founded in 1882 by Blessed Michael J. McGivney in the basement of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut. The Church is still in existence adjoining the campus of Yale University, and a council still uses the basement of the church for its meetings. The headquarters of the Knights of Columbus is still located in New Haven. St. Mary’s Church and the Knights of Columbus museum are open to the public for visitation.
On October 31, 2020, Blessed Michael McGivney was beatified after a process that started in 1997. The beatification mass was celebrated at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Hartford, Connecticut with Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin presiding on the Pope's behalf.
7. Do I Have to Be Active in a Certain Number of Events or Meetings after Joining?
No. This is a common misperception that unfortunately causes some busy men to be reluctant to join the Knights of Columbus.
While all knights are encouraged to be active, there is no set requirement. As a Knight, you can choose the projects that you become involved with, and you volunteer only the time you have available. As a family fraternal organization, the Order is dedicated to family life and the need to balance your time with other activities.
8. Are There Dues Involved with Being a Knight?
Yes. The local council collects modest annual dues from members.
Our St Louis Martin Council’s dues for the 2020-2021 fraternal year are $58. The dues are used to defray communication and administration costs by local, state, and supreme councils.
However, we are always able to waive dues for any brother or potential brother in need. Dues will never be the limiting factor to join our council.
9. Do the Knights of Columbus Offer Fraternal Benefits?
You may already be aware that the Knights of Columbus offers affordable life insurance to its members. Although there is no requirement to purchase insurance from the Knights of Columbus, approximately one third of the Knights globally have elected to have some form of insurance, annuities, disability income insurance, or long-term care through K of C. The Knights of Columbus has assured the welfare of its members since 1882 (over 125 years) and ranks in the top 5% of the approximately 2,000 insurance companies throughout North America. It has consistently received the highest possible ratings from A.M. Best (A++ Superior) and Standard & Poor’s (AAA Extremely Strong) and is a member of the Insurance Marketplace Standards Association (IMSA) which is reserved only for those insurance companies that conduct business by the highest ethical standard.
There are also other benefits associated with being a Knight. These include scholarships, accidental death benefits, orphan benefits, etc.
For further information on fraternal benefits see the K of C web page at www.kofc.org.
10. Why Should I Join the Knights, I Already Belong to Another Volunteer Organization?
The Knights of Columbus are committed to making our community a better place, while supporting our Church. The Knights of Columbus also provides an opportunity for you and your family to get to know other families in our parish. Families can socialize, and our events often enable other parishioners the opportunity for fellowship also. Being a Knight is about much more than camaraderie, however. It is about being involved with your community. It is about supporting your local Catholic Church, while growing in your own faith. It is also about providing security for your family and enhancing your family life.
11. Is the Knights of Columbus a Secret Organization?
No. The principles and objectives of the K of C are published and well known. While the Knights of Columbus Council meetings are only open to members, this is common for many private organizations. Our meetings follow the same format as many civic or church organizations and use Robert’s rules of order. Our programs and activities are open to the public and typically involve family members and others. In the past, our exemplification ceremonies were closed sessions. As of 2020, all exemplification ceremonies are open. In fact, knights are encouraged to now bring family and friends.
12. What is the Respect Life Program?
The Knights of Columbus is known broadly as a pro-life organization. However, this firm belief in the defense of life extends beyond the unborn.
As Catholics, we are committed to the defense of life in all its stages and in every condition — from conception to natural death, and we are committed to helping others understand, value, and cultivate respect for life.
The Knights of Columbus has established programs for its nearly 2 million members that help them contribute to the cause of creating a culture of life. Among the many programs aimed at respecting life are:
The March for Life
Novena for Life
Christian Refugee Relief
Pregnancy Center Support
13. If I join the Knights, am I required to buy a uniform and beret?
No. The uniform, beret, and regalia are part of the 4th degree (also known as the Patriotic degree) and are optional. When you initially join the Knights, you are exemplified as a full 3rd degree Knight. Once you become a full Knight, you have the option to join a 4th degree assembly through a separate exemplification ceremony. If you do become a 4th degree Knight, it is also optional for you to join the color guard. Learn more about the 4th degree and the color guard here: https://www.kofc.org/en/members/for-patriotic-degree/index.html.
14. What does the Bishop think of the Knights?
Here are some of his comments on the Knights of Columbus: https://youtu.be/CdbpuSWP51M