Structure of the Order
Supreme Council– The Supreme Council meets annually. It consists of the supreme officers, supreme directors, the state deputies of the various jurisdictions, the most recent immediate past state deputies, territorial deputies, past supreme knights and elected delegates from each jurisdiction. There are two categories of elected delegates, associate and insurance, with the number of delegates in each category determined by the number of associate and insurance members in each jurisdiction.
In addition to receiving the reports of the supreme officers,the delegates also set policy for the Order by means of resolutions. They also elect members to the board of directors. Directors are elected for three-year terms and, annually, they appoint from their own ranks the supreme officers who run the Order on a day-to-day basis.
The day-to-day business of the Order is conducted from theSupreme Council office in New Haven. All the officers, except the supreme chaplain and the supreme warden, work here on a full-time basis. The office has approximately 700 employees.
State Council– The State Council meets annually. It consists of the state officers, the most immediate past state deputy, the grand knight and a past grand knight of each local council. The State Council receives the annual reports of the state officers and sets state council policy by means of are solutions process.
In addition to these officers, each jurisdiction has a number of directors and committee chairmen who are responsible for various State Council programs and for specific areas such as membership growth.District deputies are appointed and assigned to be the only representative of the supreme knight and the state deputy to a designated group of local, usually five in number.
Local Council– The basic unit of the Knights of Columbus is the local council. At monthly meetings council members hear the proposals of various committees, decide which activities,programs and charitable causes the council will pursue and how the council will allocate its funds. They also vote on applications for membership and hear the reports of key council officers and directors. To be a council officer, a Knight must be a Third Degree member of the Order.
The Patriotic Degree
Until 1900 the principles of the Order were charity, unity and fraternity. On Feb. 22 of that year patriotism was added with the first exemplification of the Fourth Degree. Sometimes called the Patriotic Degree, it is open to Third Degree Knights in good standing who have been members of the Order for at least one year.
The primary purpose of the Patriotic Degree is to foster the spirit of patriotism by promoting responsible citizenship, loyalty to country and the love of God.
The basic unit of the Fourth Degree is called an assembly. It serves one or more local councils. Fourth Degree members are referred to as Sir Knights, and they may choose to join the assembly’s color corps, which serves as an honor guard at civic and religious functions. Color corps members are readily identifiable by their regalia (uniforms) consisting of tuxedo, plumed chapeau, cape, sword and white gloves.
The Order’s official youth organization is known as theColumbian Squires. Membership is open to boys between the ages of 10 and 18. The basic Squires unit is called a circle.Squires circles must be sponsored by a local council or assembly. A highly organized and structured international organization, Columbian Squires aims to develop leadership qualities as well as a strong sense of civic and religious responsibility in Catholic young men.
Benefits of Membership
Writing to pastors throughout Connecticut to encourage them to start councils in their parishes, Father McGivney explained in part:
“Secondly our object is to unite men of our faith throughout the Diocese of Hartford that we may thereby gain strength to aid each other in time of sickness; to provide for decent burial; and to render pecuniary assistance to the families of deceased members.”
That is why a primary feature of the Knights of Columbus was the insurance program. Membership in the Order was open to men between the ages of 18 and 50 who paid dues on a sliding scale from $3.25 to $11.25 per year depending on age. In addition, upon the death of a member, each member contributed$1.00.
Thus, the Knights of Columbus was able to provide an ill member the sum of $5.00 per week during his sickness. Upon a member’s death his family was to receive a death benefit of$1,000 (once the Order reached the 1,000-member mark). With the rapid expansion of the Knights of Columbus this rudimentary insurance plan proved inadequate and the system used today was adopted.
Over the years the Order’s insurance program has joined the elite ranks of the most highly rated insurance companies inNorth America. The Order perennially receives the highest possible designations from two top rating agencies, AAA(Extremely Strong) from Standard and Poor’s, and A++ (Superior)from A.M. Best. The Order is also a member of IMSA (InsuranceMarketplace Standards Association) which is reserved only for those insurers that conduct their business by the highest ethical standards. The Knights of Columbus is the only fraternal organization and one of very few insurance and financial institutions to hold all three honors. The Agency Department’s motto, “Insurance for Brother Knights by Brother Knights,” has provided the impetus for those high ratings.
Today the Order’s 140 general agents and the more than1,100 field agents provide K of C members and their families with more than $4 billion in new insurance coverage each year. The total insurance in force exceeds $43 billion. Last year, nearly $124 million in death benefits were paid and insurance members received $275 million in dividends on the policies they held.
The insurance program provides a member with the means to protect his assets upon his death for the sake of his family.Recently a new insurance product, Long Term Care, was developed to protect those assets by covering the cost of care in a nursing home, assisted living facility or even at home.
The Knights of Columbus insurance program offers many benefits unavailable through other insurers. A member may also purchase coverage for his spouse or his children.
New Member Plan
The Order’s New Member Plan is offered on the back of the membership application (Form 100). It provides the new Knight and his spouse each the opportunity to purchase from $8,156 to$1,095 of whole life insurance, depending on age, for a premium of $50 per year. The face amount of the policy, set by the age of the member or his wife at the time of application, never varies.
Member/Spouse Fraternal Benefit
Upon the death of any member or his spouse within 90 days of an injury resulting from an accident (with some restrictions),the Order pays a death benefit to the heirs of the deceased. There is no charge for this coverage, but is does require that the Knight be a member in good standing, current in his dues, of a council in good standing. The coverage is provided on a 24-hour per day basis anywhere in the world and whether on or off the job. A member’s spouse retains her coverage after a member’s death.
Family Fraternal Benefit
This Family Fraternal Benefit offers five distinct benefits for eligible members and their families. These benefits are unmatched in the insurance industry:
#1. A $5,000 life insurance plan, at standard rates, for a member’s uninsurable or rated newborn child provided application is made before the child is 61 days old. #2. A $5,000 life insurance plan, at a rated premium, for a member’s uninsurable child between the ages of 61 days and 18 years old. #3 Up to $5,000 life insurance at standard rates for a child with mental retardation who is otherwise in good health,between the ages 3 and 18 years. #4 A $1,500 death benefit to the family when a child dies less than 61 days after birth. #5 A $750 death benefit to the family when a child is stillborn at least 20 weeks after conception. (The Order affirms that life begins at conception, but the law requires a certified death certificate for the stillborn child, hence the 20-week rule.
To be eligible for these benefits, the member must be in good standing with his council, and at least one parent must be insured under an individual Knights of Columbus certificate.
Orphan Fraternal Benefit
The Knights of Columbus has always been concerned about the welfare of the child who loses both parents. With the OrphanFraternal Benefit the Order again demonstrates this concern for the children of eligible families by offering:
1. An Orphan Fraternal Benefit of $80 per month to help support each eligible orphan until he or she reaches the age of 19, graduates from high school, enters military service, marries, discontinues Knights of Columbus insurance, or no longer attends school (except if he or she has a disabling illness). If the orphan attends college or vocational/technical school full time, the benefit may continue to age 23.
2. The child may be eligible for up to $1,750 each year in educational grants. Grants are based upon financial need and will not exceed a maximum of $7,000 over a four-year period.
To be eligible for these benefits, the orphan’s father must have been in good standing at the time of death, at least one parent must have been covered under a Knights of Columbus certificate and the child must be covered under a Knights of Columbus certificate.
The Supreme Council offers scholarships, based on need,to members and their families. The Matthews-Swift program offers a full scholarship to a Catholic college to the child of a member in good standing who is killed or permanently and totally disabled as a member of the armed forces or as the result of a criminal act in the line of duty as a full-time police officer or fire fighter. Additionally, many state and local councils also offer scholarships.
The Columbia Magazine
The Knights of Columbus magazine, the largest circulation Catholic family magazine in the world, is provided monthly, free of charge, to members in good standing in English, French and Spanish.
The Holy Rosary
Upon initiation into the Order each member is presented with a Knights of Columbusrosary blessed by the supreme chaplain.Additionally, the Order encourages Mariandevotion through its biennial Pilgrim Virgin program.
Daily Mass Remembrance
Deceased members, the deceased spouses of members andColumbian Squires are remembered daily in Mass at St. Mary ’sChurch in New Haven, birthplace of the Knights of Columbus.
In addition to the benefits offered to spouses of members such as the New Member Plan and the accidental death coverage outlined above, the widow of a Knight is eligible to buy more insurance, with certain restrictions, up to one year after the death of the member. Also the widow may choose to receive Columbia at no charge for as long as she lives and special efforts are made to keep her actively involved in the life of the council.
The Knights of Columbus membership card makes a Knight welcome at any activity sponsored by a K of C council in any part of the world in which the Order is established.
Local councils offer a variety of council family, youth and athletic activities for members and their families.
Soon after joining the Order, a new member will be contacted by a Knights of Columbus field agent who will explain all theOrder’s benefits, including insurance, scholarships and many others, available to members and their families.
United in Charity
Thanks to the efforts of Father Michael J. McGivney, assistant pastor of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven and some of his parishioners, the Connecticut state legislature on March 29, 1882, officially chartered the Knights of Columbus as a fraternal benefit society. The Order is still true to its founding principles of charity, unity and fraternity.
The Knights was formed to render financial aid to members and their families. Mutual aid and assistance are offered to sick, disabled and needy members and their families. Social and intellectual fellowship is promoted among members and their families through educational, charitable, religious, social welfare, war relief and public relief works.
The history of the Order shows how the foresight of Father Michael J. McGivney, whose cause for sainthood is being investigated by the Vatican, brought about what has become the world's foremost Catholic fraternal benefit society. The Order has helped families obtain economic security and stability through its life insurance, annuity and long-term care programs, and has contributed time and energy worldwide to service in communities.
The Knights of Columbus has grown from several members in one
council to more than 13,000 councils and 1.7 million members through
out the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Poland, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, Guatemala, Guam and Saipan.
Why Join the Knights of Columbus?
Imagine being part of an organization that fills your heart and your mind with the joy of giving to others and the feeling that comes with making a difference.
Knights are Catholic men, 18 years of age and older, who are committed to making their community a better place, while supporting their Church. Being a Knight is more than camaraderie; it is being involved with your community; it is supporting your local Catholic Church, while enhancing your own faith; it is about protecting and enhancing your family life. Come see just what we are all about and take the first steps to enhance your personal life by viewing the segment and videos, "Why Join the Knights of Columbus" ?