The Chapter with a Heartbeat
Updated: Sep 5, 2019
If you were to tell me a year ago "Thomas, you're going to be a member of the Knights of Columbus", I would have laughed and told you I had at least forty more years before I retire. No, I never would have believed I would be a third-degree member who is the Grand Knight of his council. At the time, I held an image in my head I believe many share: old retired guys who have nothing better to do with their time than to dress up in cosplay, bring donuts and coffee for post-Mass meet-n-greets, run a fish fry or spaghetti dinner and maybe play BINGO. But I have come to discover the Knights of Columbus has so much more to offer, not only to the parishes they serve but also to the very members making up the councils. I have come to learn Knights are Men of Action, Men of Community, Men of Commitment and Men in Defense of Faith.

Men of Action

One tactic a Knight of Columbus used to try to recruit me went something like this:

Knight: "Hey son, are you single?"
Me: "Yes, sir."

K: "Do you know what women like?"
M: "What's that?"

K: "Men who take action! Be one! Join the Knights!"

Fifteen of the approximate thirty undergraduate members and about fifteen post-grad members that make up Council 13900 which serves the University of Florida.

Okay, whether or not you believe this, there is one thing about his statement which is absolutely true: the Knights are men of action. It has become far too commonplace to have men who virtue-signal or men who talk of change but don't do anything or, even worse, men who complain about the status quo but will not actively be a part of the solution. Oh boy! That truly cuts my oatmeal!

The Knights of Columbus provides a way for men to take part in being the positive change in society. As Knights, we don't fight against the wrong notions of masculinity and virtue. Not directly at least. Rather we fight for truth, virtue and authentic masculinity. Let's take a little look at some of the actions take by the Knights of Columbus.


A few members of Council #13900 at St. Augustine's Church in Gainesville, FL.

Knights of Columbus has:
And these are just a few of the many, many contributions you will be making to society by becoming a Knight. Needless to say, we Knights are sick of simply talking about how to make the world a better place.

Men of Community

The Knights of Columbus was founded by Fr. Michael J McGivney in a time when many Catholic immigrants were coming to find a new life in the United States. This was also a time when many men were dying in their field of work, with the industrial revolution and the dangers which come with factory work.

In response, Fr. McGivney formed the Knights of Columbus which not only provided insurance and care for widows and orphans (and still does to this day) but also created a community of men to bond together and work for the advancement of the community as a whole.

We may not have as many men dying in factories as we did back then. However, there is still an absence of men, of fathers, in society and in families. As a fraternity, the Knights provides a way for younger men to learn from their elders the traits of authentic manhood. Knights also strengthened the bonds of brotherhood in family and community through events ranging from simple family bar-b-ques to helpful community service or even fraternal cigar and whiskey nights. And, in the event of a tragedy, the deep friendships created ensured the member's family was taken care of by his brothers. This would mean there would still be men to look out for and be present in the lives of his wife and children.

Ven. Fr. Michael J. McGivney, Founder of the Knights of Columbus
Men of Commitment

I mentioned earlier how I the Grand Knight of my council. This is not something I did alone. I did not decide one day I would join Knights and take over after a measly seven months in the order. Such a thing would be impossible, especially in the Knights. The only reason I am able to rise to the office is the support and commitment of my fellow Knights to forming me into the best leader possible. The Knights of Columbus is first and foremost a Catholic fraternity, teaching men how to men, how to stand up with and for your fellow brothers.

The Knights of Columbus is built on the pillars of Charity, Unity, Fraternity and Patriotism. Additionally, the order is dedicated to bettering each member and the also the community as a whole.The Knights of Columbus is built on the pillars of Charity, Unity, Fraternity and Patriotism. Additionally, the order is dedicated to bettering each member and the also the community as a whole.


Logo of the Knights of Columbus
Yes, on paper, the commitment to Knights is what you want to make it. We don't require hours or attendance for membership. This means, if you so please, you can become a Knight, take all of your degrees, never show up for meetings, never come to service projects, never partake in socials, never commit a second of your time to the betterment of the order and the betterment of yourself. But does that say something about the order or about yourself?

One of the reasons many people associate the Knights of Columbus with folks over the age of fifty is precisely due to the refusal of almost an entire generation to take on this call of commitment. Yes, I am calling out an entire generation. The value of committing one's self, as a man, to the service of the community was lost and neglected. This meant fathers did not commit to the community and their sons took notice. The children of this generation witnessed Knights as grandpa's thing, not what dad did. This is why we now have to fight to change this image, to reveal what Knights truly is, what we truly do. All this trouble because of the neglect of duty and commitment.


Men in Defense of Faith

The first story I heard in regards to my local council of the Knights of Columbus was a heroic story which makes me proud to wear the Knights logo upon my chest. In 1923, Fr. John Conoley saw the completion of his dream: a new church dedicated to the service of the students of the University of Florida. However, the members of the Klu Klux Klan did not like this new and growing Catholic influence in the area. The Klansmen started a media campaign against Fr. Conoley with flyers, newspaper articles and a letter to the then president of UF, Albert Murphree. Despite the condemnation of the protestant community and the abandonment of President Murphree due to pressure, Fr. Conoley did not abandon his mission to the students of UF. Fr. John Conoley served as an Army Chaplain during WWI.

 So, in 1924, less than a year after the completion of the new church, the Klansmen abducted, beat and castrated Fr. Conoley, leaving him within inches of death. They warned the priest to vacate, or they would burn the Church down. Instead of giving in, a new priest was sent to serve at the church. Infuriated, the Klansmen headed to the church to brutalize this new priest and burn down the church. However, when they arrived, they found the church and rectory guarded by Knights of Columbus armed with shotguns, prepared to fight in defense of their priest, their church and their faith.


Fr. John Conoley circa 1918
Chills...

It is no secret we live in a world which is contrary to our Catholic faith, to the point that in the United States we face political persecution, discrimination, and the threat of losing religious freedoms (a sort of "white" martyrdom). It only gets worse when you expand the picture to an international examination. Priests and faithful are being killed, churches are being burned and vandalized and the faith is being suppressed and doctored by governments and terrorist groups with the goal of destroying the Church Christ founded. As Knights, we vow to defend our priests physically and also spiritually, by honoring them supporting them in prayer. Now, more than ever, we need men willing to rise to the defense of the Church, whether it's like the Knights at UF in the 1920s, armed and willing to die for the faith, or if it's men risking the death of their status or influence to stand against injustice and for truth.

In summary, Knights of Columbus is a way for you to become more like to Christ, to become a true man of faith and virtue, one who is selfless, one who is there for his brothers and his community and one who his sons can look up to as a role model. Be a man of action, don't just talk about how you're pro-life, assist in the purchasing of ultra-sound machines which save lives and join brother knights in prayer vigils and rosaries. Be a man of community, recognizing that when you help others, you help yourself, your family and ensuring those who are in need are met with assistance. Be a man of commitment, doing what you say, saying what you do, investing in others and allowing others to invest in you. Be a man of faith, treating your faith with the respect it deserves and being willing to lay down your life and your status for Christ.

By now I hope you're asking not "Why should I be a Knight?" but "How to I become a Knight?"

Contact your local pastor or Council to find out the council closest to you. Then, visit Knights.net. It's quick. It's easy. If you let it, it's life changing.

Do not delay. Become a Knight today!

©  2019 by Chapter 4, KofC
Last updated: September 13, 2019
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