Father DeNisco Council No. 3862
Slate Belt Area Knights of Columbus
1680 W. Bangor Rd. * Bangor, Pa. 18013

The Vision of Father McGivney
Principles of the Order
Structure of the Order



The Vision of Father McGivney

     Led by the quiet, unassuming curate of St. Mary's Parish in New Haven Conn., a small group of men established the Knights of Columbus in the church basement early in the spring of 1882.

     The priest, Father Michael J. McGivney, saw clearly that both              
Catholics and the Church faced serious problems 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:

     They called themselves Knights of Columbus - Knights to emphasize chivalry's ideals of charity and support for Church and state, and Columbus as a reminder that the 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 of more than1.6 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. They belong to many races and speak many different languages. They are diverse, yet they are one. Their diversity spells creativity: their unity spells strength.

     The Knights' creativity is manifested in numerous programs and projects directed to the benefit of their fellowman. Their strength assures that these programs are operated effectively and brought to positive conclusions. The Knights the world over combined to give more than 57 million hours of volunteer service, and more than $116 million to a wide range of Church, community and charitable activities and programs. Examples of what Knights do - The Order funds the satellite uplinks necessary to broadcast papal messages and ceremonies throughout the world, paid the cost of the restoration of facade of St. Peter's Basilica, financed the restoration of the MadernoAtrium which leads to the Holy Door that is opened by the pope at the beginning of the Holy Year, helped fund, service and support Special Olympics, granted money to families of each of the fire fighters, law enforcement officers and emergency service personnel who lost their lives in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York regardless of faith or membership in the Order, and established an annual "Blue Mass" in honor of law enforcement, fire and emergency service personnel who risked their lives in service to our communities.

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Principles of the Order

     From such promising beginnings Father McGivney's original group has blossomed into an international society of more than 1.6 million Catholic men plus their families in more than 12,000 local councils who have dedicated themselves to the ideals of Charity, Unity, Fraternity, and Patriotism.

     Charity is the first principle of the Order. Knights are followers of Christ and men of faith. Therefore, as Knights we are committed to charity, easing the plight of those less fortunate.

     Unity is the second principle of the Order. In Unity there is strength. Existing in an environment that was openly hostile to Catholics, the founders of the Order relied on the strength of unity to remain steadfast in the faith while claiming their rightful place in society. Today the Order uses that strength to speak out for religiously-grounded moral values in a culture that has forsaken them.

     Fraternity is the third principle of the Order. In the 19th century America, life insurance was beyond the financial reach of many of the poor Catholics, and social services did not exist. Through the Knights of Columbus men were able to band together as brothers to help one another in times of distress, sickness and death.

     Patriotism is the principle of the Fourth Degree. One of the reasons the Order was founded was to emphasize that Catholics are proud citizens of their countries. Today the Fourth Degree Knights in full regalia, the visible arm of the Order, serve to witness the values of devotion to God and country, the bedrock of patriotism.    

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Structure of the Order

     If the Knights of Columbus have grown so steadily and strongly since their charter was granted by the State of Connecticut in 1882, much of the credit can go to the firm structural foundation on which the organization was established, and to the caliber of the men attracted to its ranks.

     As a fraternal benefit society, the Order operates in accordance with the laws relating to such groups. These regulations require a representative form of government comprised of a supreme governing or legislative body and subordinate branches. Members are elected, initiated and admitted into the society according to the provisions of its constitution, laws and rules.

     The society is governed by the Supreme Council, its top legislative body. There are 64 state councils and several territorial jurisdictions encompassing more than 10,000 subordinate councils to which more than 1.5 million members belong. Groups of councils, ideally four or more in adjacent or nearby localities, are formed into districts under a district deputy.

     The Supreme Council is composed of the supreme officers (supreme knight, chaplain, deputy supreme knight, secretary, treasurer, advocate, physician and warden); the supreme directors (a 24-member body elected for three-year terms by the Supreme Council at its annual meeting); the past supreme knights; the state deputy and the last living past state deputy of the various state councils; and such delegates as are duly chosen by the state councils. Executive authority is vested in the supreme officers, who are elected annually by the supreme directors.

     The supreme officers are:

     The state councils are made up of the state deputy, who is the representative of the supreme knight in each state, and other state officers, the last living past state deputy, the grand knight and a past grand knight from each subordinate council. The State Council annually elects the State Council officers who are by title:

     Charters establishing subordinate (local) councils are granted upon completion of 30 members or applicants for membership. The presiding officer is the grand knight. Titles of the other officers on both the state and local levels are similar to those on the supreme level, with some additions. In all there are 17 council officers, of whom 12 are elected to their positions annually. Five others are appointed by the grand knight, including a program director and a membership director. These men in turn appoint and supervise various committees charged with council projects and membership recruitment and retention. A new knight is encouraged to become active in his council by making himself available for membership in one or more of these committees. The council's financial secretary is appointed directly by the supreme knight. To be a council officer, a Knight must be a Third Degree member of the Order. Council officers are:

     It is the responsibility of the program director and his church, community, council, family and youth directors to provide balanced, attractive and effective activities for the members. There is no doubt that participation in council projects and the experience gained in leadership positions stand a man in good stead throughout his life.

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