Somerville Council #1432
495 East Main Street Somerville, NJ 08876 908-725-7210
The Knights of Columbus was founded by a Catholic priest, Father Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Connecticut on February 2, 1882, and incorporated under the laws of Connecticut on March 29, 1882. Though the first councils were all in New England, the Order soon spread throughout the United States in the following years. Today the Order has active councils in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Philippines.
Fr. McGivney founded the Knights at a time when Catholics were regularly excluded from the unions and men's organizations that provided social support services. The organization was also intended to provide an alternative for Catholics to membership in a Masonic lodge—Freemasonry was discouraged by church hierarchy, and banned by Pope Leo XIII in 1884. The naming of the order after Columbus was partially intended as a mild ridicule of Anglo-Saxon Protestant leaders of the day, who upheld the explorer (an Italian working for Catholic Spain) as an American hero, yet simultaneously sought to marginalize recent Catholic immigrants.
The Knights of Columbus today is a multi-million dollar non-profit charitable organization. Knights may be seen distributing Tootsie Rolls to raise funds to fight mental illness, volunteering for the Special Olympics and other charitable organizations, erecting pro-life billboards and "Keep Christ in Christmas" signs, conducting blood drives and raising funds for disaster victims, or parading at patriotic events with their bright capes, feathered chapeaux, and ceremonial swords. The Knights of Columbus also provide annual funding for the satellite uplink of the Pope's worldwide Christmas address. In many countries that cannot afford satellite downlink, the Order often pays for this as well.
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