On 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 priest, Father Michael J. McGivney, these men formed a fraternal society that would one day become the world’s largest Catholic family fraternal service organization. They sought strength in solidarity, and security through unity of purpose and devotion to a holy cause: they vowed to be defenders of their country, their families and their faith. These men were bound together by the ideal of Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of the Americas, the one whose hand brought Christianity to the New World.
The priest, Father Michael J. McGivney, saw clearly that both Catholics and the Church faced serious problems in the last half of the nineteenth century such as anti-Catholicism and ethnic prejudice; under-employment; lack of social standing and early loss of the breadwinner. To resolve those problems Father McGivney conceived the idea of an organization of Catholic men who would band together:
• To aid one another in times of sickness or death, by means of a simple insurance plan, so that their wives and children would not face abject poverty. • To strengthen themselves and each other in the Faith. • To strengthen families and family life. • To be a strong pillar of support for their priest and bishops. • To be of service to Church and community by coming to the aid of those most in need in society.
They called themselves Knights of Columbus – Knights to emphasize chivalry’s ideals of charity and support of Church and state, and Columbus as a reminder that Catholics had been the backbone and bulwark of America’s growth and greatness from the very beginning.
The State of Connecticut officially chartered the Order on March 29, 1882. It’s founder, Father McGivney, and those first Knights dreamed of the day when there would be a council in every parish in Connecticut. Little could they know that their small group would grow into a global organization or more than 1.6 million members in nearly 12,000 local councils in 13 countries: the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Cuba, Virgin Islands, Guam and Saipan.
In the years since 1882 the Knights of Columbus has become one of the largest and strongest life insurance companies in North America with more than $43 billion of insurance in force. More than $4 billion in new insurance is sold annually and last year the Order paid $124 million in death benefits to the families of deceased members and $275 million in dividends to insurance members. The Order’s insurance program has expanded substantially to serve more effectively the Knights’ growing membership. Year after year, the Knights of Columbus has earned the highest possible quality ratings for financial soundness from A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The Order provides the highest quality insurance, annuity and long-term care products to its members, along with many other fraternal benefits.
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.
Prayer for the Canonization of Father Michael J. McGivney
God, Our Father, protector of the poor and defender of the widow and orphan, you called your priest, Father Michael J. McGivney, to be an apostle of Christian family life and to lead the young to the generous service of their neighbor. Through the example of his life and virtue may we follow your Son, Jesus Christ, more closely, fulfilling his commandment of charity and building his Body which is the Church. Let the inspiration of your servant prompt us to greater confidence in your love so that we may continue his work of caring for the needy and the outcast. We humbly ask that you glorify your servant Father Michael J. McGivney on earth according to the design of your holy will. Through his intercession, grant the favor I now present (make your request). Through Christ our Lord. Amen. (also pray: Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be).
Please report all favors received: The Father McGivney Guild, One Columbus Plaza, New Haven, Ct 06510-3326
visit: http://www.kofc.org/ or http://www.fathermcgivney.org/mcg/index.do to learn more!!