Frequently Asked Questions
What is the mission of the Knights of Columbus?
The Knights of Columbus was established in 1882 to provide a means by which Catholic men could support the Catholic Church, provide financial protection to protect their families, and engage in works of charity to benefit the less fortunate. Today, its nearly 1.8 million members make up the largest Catholic lay organization in the world, its insurance program has $74 billion of life insurance in force, and last year Knights donated more than $150 million and volunteered 68 million hours of their time to charity. From helping children in need to providing wheelchairs for the physically disabled and support for the intellectually handicapped, from helping to stock food banks to offering top-rated and affordable life insurance to its members, the Knights has been at the service of the communities in which we live and the needy around the world for more than 127 years.
How is the Knights of Columbus structured?
Every Knight belongs to a local council, and there are more than 13,000 active councils around the world. Each council elects its own officers, and decides what activities it will engage in. Although some councils have their own KC Halls, most newer councils are parish-based, and meet at their local parishes. Local councils, in turn, are part of a state council. Each local council elects delegates to annual state conventions where they choose state officers. The state conventions elect delegates to the annual Supreme Convention, which is held in a different city each August.
What countries have Knights of Columbus councils?
A majority of the members of the Knights of Columbus live in the United States, but there are more than 200,000 Knights in both Canada and the Philippines, and smaller numbers in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, Guatemala, Guam, Saipan and the Bahamas. The newest K of C jurisdiction is in Poland, where there are now nearly 2,000 Knights.
Is the Knights of Columbus an official part of the Catholic Church?
No. It is an independent, non-canonical organization that nonetheless is completely supportive of the Church at the parish, diocesan, national and international levels. Many thousands of priests and bishops are members. We have always regarded ourselves as the “strong right arm of the Church,” and a major part of the Order’s work is devoted to supporting our parish priests, bishops, and the Pope in a wide variety of ways. Last year, we provided more than $17.6 million for church-related grants and programs, including $2.3 million for vocations support. Each year, the Order presents the Pope with earnings from our Vicarius Christi Fund for his personal charities. Last year, the earnings totaled $1.6 million.
Who is eligible for membership in the Knights of Columbus?
Membership in the Knights of Columbus is open to men 18 years of age or older who are practical (that is, practicing) Catholics in union with the Holy See. This means that an applicant or member accepts the teaching authority of the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals, aspires to live in accord with the precepts of the Catholic Church, and is in good standing in the Catholic Church.