The Knights of Columbus is a fraternal, family, service organization composed of Catholic men.
Membership in the Knights of Columbus is open to practical Catholic men in union with the Holy See, who are not less than 18 years of age on their last birthday. A practical Catholic is one who lives up to the Commandments of God and the precepts of the Church. Application blanks are available from any member of the Knights of Columbus. Every knight is happy to propose eligible Catholic men for consideration as members. Acceptance of the applicant depends upon a vote of the members of the council in which he is making application.
The Knights of Columbus was founded by Father Michael J. McGivney, curate at St. Mary’s parish in New Haven, Connecticut on March 29, 1882. Fr. McGivney’s purpose in creating this ministry was to help Catholic men remain steadfast in their faith through mutual encouragement; to promote closer ties of fraternity among them; and to set up an elementary system of insurance so that the widows and children of members in the group who might die would not find themselves in dire financial straits.
The founder and first offices of the fledgling organization chose the name “Knights of Columbus” because they felt that, as a Catholic group, it should relate to Christopher Columbus, the Catholic discoverer of America. This would emphasize that it was Catholics who discovered, explored and colonized the North American continent. At the same time, “Knights” would signify that the membership embodied knightly ideals of spirituality and service to Church, country and fellowman.