With a membership exceeding 1.8 million members, the Knights of Columbus is the biggest Roman Catholic fraternity. On March 29, 1882 McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus along with a few parishioners. Originally, he conceived the name ‘Sons of Columbus’ for it, but James T.Mullen, the would-be first supreme knight, opined that considering the ritualistic nature of the fraternity, Knights of Columbus was more suitable. American Catholics held Columbus in great esteem as reflected in an editorial of the Connecticut Catholic in 1878 which read, ‘As American Catholics we do not know of anyone who more deserves our grateful remembrance than the great nobleman, the pious, zealous, faithful Catholic, the enterprising navigator, and large-hearted and generous sailor, Christopher Columbus.’ The Knights of Columbus is abbreviated as ‘K of C’ in the emblem. Its motto is ‘in service to one, in service to all.’ Headquartered at 1 Columbus Plaza, New Haven, Connecticut, the organization donated more than $154 million in charity, contributed in excess of 70 million manhours, and donated more than 413,000 pints of blood. The Knights of Columbus has many notable persons including the family members of U.S. Presidents, clerks, sports persons, renowned scholars, and many other famous people.
1. Michael J. McGivney
The Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney was born on August 12, 1852 and died on August 14, 1890. He was born to Irish immigrant parents. He entered Seminaire de Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada in 1868 followed by his studies at Niagara University and St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore, Mary land. He had to discontinue his studies following his father’s death in order to raise his siblings. He returned to the seminary and was ordained a priest on December 22, 1877. It was probably his father’s death and the first-rate knowledge of the insecurities faced by orphans that prompted the foundation of a caretaking organization. While he was assistant pastor at St.Mary’s Church, New Haven, Connecticut, he founded the Knights of Columbus on March 29, 1882 which became the largest Roman Catholic Fraternity.
2. James T. Mullen
James T. Mullen was born on August 30, 1843 and died on July 6, 1891 at the age of 47. From 1882 to 1886 he held the title of Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus. He was the first Knight of Columbus. He influenced Father Michael J. McGivney to change the name of the organization from Sons of Columbus to the Knights of Columbus right at the inception of the organization. During the Civil War, he served in Company C of the 9th Regiment as Sergeant of the Company. To a large segment of American Catholics, Columbus was a hero, and James T. Mullen’s suggestion of naming him as a patron was to some extent an effort to bridge the gap between the Irish Catholic founders of the Order and Catholic immigrants of other nationalities residing in Connecticut.
3. John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald ‘Jack’ Kennedy, often known as JKF, was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, U.S. on May 29, 1917 and died in Dallas, Texas, U.S. on November 22,1963 at the age of 46. John Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States from January 20, 1961 to November 22, 1963. John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1983 by Lee Harvey Oswald who was shot dead after two days by Jack Ruby. The FBI and the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald was the lone assassin. John F. Kennedy was a popular Knight of Columbus and contributed to the welfare of the organization.
4. Ted Kennedy
Edward Moore Kennedy, often known as Ted Kennedy, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. on February 22, 1932 and died in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts on August 25, 2009 at the age of 77. He was a senator and the second senior most and fourth-longest-serving member of the Democratic Party. He was John F. Kennedy’s youngest brother and the son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. He was a prominent member of the Kennedy family and his being a Knight of Columbus was beneficial for the organization. Ted Kennedy extended his fullest cooperation in the achievement of the objectives of the Knights of Columbus.
5. Al Smith
Alfred Emanuel ‘Al’ Smith, better known as Al Smith, was born to Catherine Mulvihill and Alfred E. Smith in Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S. on December 30,1873 and died in New York City on October 4, 1944 at the age of 70. He was raised in Manhattan and spent most of his life there. He was a prominent Knight of Columbus and was not liked by Southern Baptists and German Lutherans for fear of his being dictated to by the Catholic Church and the Pope. He was the 42nd Governor of New York and was the Democratic U.S. Presidential Candidate in 1928.
6. Alan Keyes
Alan Lee Keyes was born to Allison and Gerthina Keyes in Long Island, New York, U.S. on August 7, 1950. He is a doctorate degree holder from the University of Harvard and started his career in 1979 in the U.S. Foreign Service at the U.S. Consulate in Bombay, India. He ran for the presidency of the United States in 1996, 2000, and 2008. From 1985 to 1987, he served as Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of the State for International Organization Affairs. He hosted the radio talk show, ‘The Alan Keyes’ Wake-up Call’ and a TV show Alan Keyes Is Making Sense. Many buildings in the U.S. are named after him. He is an active Knight of Columbus.
7. Samuel Alito
Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr was born in Trenton, New Jersey, U.S. on April 1, 1950. He was educated at Princeton and Yale Universities. President George W. Bush nominated him as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson wrote a letter to the U.S. Senators on November 8, 2005 on his nomination saying: ‘On behalf of the 1.2 million U.S. members of the Knights of Columbus, I ask that you disavow any effort to decide Judge Alito’s nomination on the basis of his faith or the degree to which he is presumed to be a faithful Catholic. And I ask that you base your vote on his nomination on his qualifications and abilities as judge.’
8. Jeb Bush
John Elis Bush, better known as Jeb Bush, was born to the former President George H. W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush in Midland, Texas on February 11, 1953. He is the younger brother of former President George W. Bush. Addressing at the 122nd Knights of Columbus Convention in Dallas on August 3, 2004, President George W. Bush said, ‘I’m proud to say my family has contributed to your rank.’ A few years ago, Governor Jeb became a Knight and recently took the third degree. ‘I’ll see him this weekend. His son is getting married. I’ll pass on the word. Aim for the fourth.’ In 2004, Jeb Bush was inducted into the Fourth Degree by Garry L. McLain.
9. Daniel Daly
Daniel Daly was born in Glen Cove, New York on November 11, 1873 and died in Glendale, Queens, New York on April 27, 1937 at the age of 63. Sergeant Major Daniel Joseph Daly was a U.S. Marine and one of the 19 men who received the Medal of Honor twice. It is said that Daly was offered an officer’s commission twice to which he replied that he would be better, ‘An outstanding sergeant than just another officer.’
10. William Joseph Levada
William Joseph Levada was born in Long Beach, California, U.S. on June 15, 1936. He is the highest-ranking American in the Roman Curia. He had been Archbishop of Portland and San Francisco. He was raised to Cardinal in 2006. During a Knights of Columbus convention, Cardinal William Joseph Levada stated, ‘We Knights of Columbus are dedicated to fostering both faith and patriotism in your members, and you experience the tension when our religious ideals come into conflict with a society that is becoming increasingly secular.’
Actions speak louder than words, and it is in fact the actions that determine the longevity and health of an organization. It is not due to the noblemen that organizations survive and flourish. It is rather due to the noble actions, unity of purpose, devotion of the members, and commitment of the top to achieve the objectives that make or break the organization. Being there for over 130 years is self-explanatory about the potentials of the Knights of Columbus.
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