The Knights of Columbus


#1

Wasn't sure where to put this (please move if a better subforum exists), but I'm curious to know more about the KoC, specifically what is it they do?

And I realize this is selfish, but I have alot of kids in young family form, so if I felt moved by the Spirit to join, what is a ballpark time commitment? :eek:


#2

[quote="Geist, post:1, topic:284935"]
Wasn't sure where to put this (please move if a better subforum exists), but I'm curious to know more about the KoC, specifically what is it they do?

And I realize this is selfish, but I have alot of kids in young family form, so if I felt moved by the Spirit to join, what is a ballpark time commitment? :eek:

[/quote]

The purpose of the Knights is twofold:

1.) Provide for Catholic widows and orphans. This is accomplished through the Knights' life insurance program, which is one of the most highly rated in North America.
2.) Provide a charitable fraternal organization for Catholic men. Knights activities extend from council meetings to parish functions to charity events in the local community. Most councils are actively involved in serving at and improving their associated parish.

The time commitment is really what you make of it. Most councils meet at least one day a month (often two), but attendance is not mandatory (though it is highly encouraged). Beyond that, you decide what events you'd like to attend, whether or not you want to volunteer for an officer position (in which case meeting attendance is required), et c.

The first three degrees are your basic membership...the Fourth Degree is a bit of a different animal, and I think someone else who's taken it can speak to it better than I.

I've only just joined, so I'm sure some of the other Knights on the forum can also elaborate. I do have a young son (<1 year), but the vast majority of activities are family-friendly and Knights are encouraged to bring and involve their families where possible. Obviously certain activities (meetings, degree ceremonies, et c.) are members-only, but those are in the minority. You can also check and see if your local council has a ladies' auxiliary or a chapter of the Columbiettes, if your wife is interested.


#3

I'm currently an inactive 3rd degree knight, but I think it's a great organization. I'm inactive due to the inability to attend the meetings (Because of work and family commitments).

When I was more active, the main activities were:
1. Meetings (every other week) on a weekday night for about 2 hours. We usually prayed, went over council business, and generally hung out afterwards conversing unless there was a specific activity such as a degree ceremony.

  1. Service events - once or twice a month depending on the specifics. For example, fundraising, helping around the parish, etc.

There was no pressure to attend regularly and even now I occasionally get a letter or message from a member letting me know I'm always welcome back.

God bless,
Bryan


#4

Let me emphasize that while the insurance program was central to the original purpose of the founding of the Knights of Columbus (in Industrial Revolution times when poor Catholic families in America were often left destitute when the primary breadwinner died, which often happened when he was still young), it's an entirely optional part of the Order.

Some knights feel like they have a lot of pressure put on them to get the insurance, while others don't at all. It's sort of luck of the draw I guess, whether you'll encounter pushy insurance agents or not. Unless of course you are actually interested in their life insurance program, which is supposed to be very good, in which case there's no potential problem at all.

I helped found a new College Council a few years ago and early on someone came to us and gave a talk about what an especially great deal they had for young people, but he was cool about it and didn’t put any actual pressure on us to sign up for anything. In fact he encouraged us not to make hasty decisions, and after that we were left alone about the subject (I think one student did get the insurance, by the way), though I still get junk mail about it periodically. Unfortunately I have very little direct experience with grown-up councils since there isn’t one where I now live, but as I said I’ve heard widely varying anecdotes from different knights on the subject.

Overall it’s a great organization and I highly recommend joining if you have the opportunity. The emphasis I always took away from my encounters with the wider Order, such as a big conference at the headquarters in New Haven, was on charitable service and growth in our faith as Catholic men, and secondarily on fraternity among fellow knights.


#5

[quote="Geist, post:1, topic:284935"]
Wasn't sure where to put this (please move if a better subforum exists), but I'm curious to know more about the KoC, specifically what is it they do?

And I realize this is selfish, but I have alot of kids in young family form, so if I felt moved by the Spirit to join, what is a ballpark time commitment? :eek:

[/quote]

I think cjmclark provided a good overview of "what" the Knights are. As a current student (and someone with no future plans of wife/kids for, well, obvious reasons ;)) I am not enrolled in the life insurance program.

Time commitment is really whatever you can give. Each council does have officers, so if you wanted to be an officer your time commitment would be greater (all council meetings and any other official business).


#6

[quote="Aelred_Minor, post:4, topic:284935"]
Let me emphasize that while the insurance program was central to the original purpose of the founding of the Knights of Columbus (in Industrial Revolution times when poor Catholic families in America were often left destitute when the primary breadwinner died, which often happened when he was still young), it's an entirely optional part of the Order.

[/quote]

Absolutely! I apologize for not being clear about this. The only obligation you have as far as the insurance program goes is to meet with an insurance agent upon joining the Knights. The agent for our district was very professional and straightforward with me. He actually retired from where I work now and told me that I should max out my life insurance here before I bought from the Knights as he knew they offered it at a better rate here at work.

That said, we were discussing term life insurance, and he raised the excellent point that once I stop working here (retire, move, whatever) that life insurance is gone. Their term life insurance is offered at very competitive rates, and if you can afford the premiums for a whole life insurance policy (generally 8x those for term) it's a great investment. So I think it's a good program, especially for working men with families, as it gives you really good options for both term and whole life insurance that you can carry with you wherever you go.

But as Aelred said, you are under no obligation to buy life insurance from the Knights.


#7

If, for some reason, you find you absolutely must join, I would recommend you proceed with caution, and make sure you find one of the better councils.

You could attend meetings, and vote to send a couple of small checks to some local charities. You could hang out with the others, and have some drinks. Perhaps you could participate in a fund raiser, such as soliciting cash at a local supermarket, or work a fish fry.

If you have plenty of money, and can take care of yourself, it seems there might be some opportunities for you to have some fun, especially if you become a 4th degree, and attend some of their grand ball functions. I could never afford anything like that, and I couldn't even afford to marry or support a family, so that left me out. Then, after a couple of decades of membership, I became disabled, lost my job, and went bankrupt. Paying dues would have meant choosing between that or having a utility shut off. I applied for a dues waiver, but am now ignored, they won't send me a membership card, and I'm treated much, much worse than the pro-abortion politicians that are Knights.

I have deep regrets that I joined, which was almost 30 years ago. I thought I might find some opportunities for my pro-life or apologetics activities, but that was not the case, in fact, my pro-life agenda was criticized.

All in all, a very heartbreaking experience for the lowly in their ranks, but yet I've been assured by some members here on CAF that they love it, but then, they're doing alright in the first place.


#8

Related to the KOC, is there an equivalent for women to join?


#9

Each parish has the option of creating its own women's group if they wish to parallel the Knights. There is no organized Women's Auxiliary to the Knights of Columbus. My parish has started an independent Ladies' Sodality group with that purpose. There may be some organizations nationwide, but I am not personally aware of them.


#10

I've been a Knight for about 9 years. The knights is a service organization, not a social club, so members are expected to help with assorted tasks around the parish such as host monthly parish breakfasts, sell Christmas trees, provide traffic direction & security for evening Religious Ed, youth events, chess tournaments, host a yearly charity golf tournament, support local charities, seminarians, etc. The national organization has yearly quotas for time donated and money raised on a per-person basis. So if say, half of the members don't do anything, then the rest have to do double in order to meet the goals.

Every month a typical knight would attend the business meeting and participate in one other activity. Say a total of 3 to 4 hours per month, but it varies with each knight, how young his kids are, whether he travels for work, etc. Retired guys tend to do more.

It sounds like work, but it's really a joy to do worthwhile things with other motivated Catholic men. And we do have social events that involve wives and kids, too.

As St Paul says, God loves a cheerful giver.


#11

[quote="kkollwitz, post:10, topic:284935"]
I've been a Knight for about 9 years. The knights is a service organization, not a social club, so members are expected to help with assorted tasks around the parish such as host monthly parish breakfasts, sell Christmas trees, provide traffic direction & security for evening Religious Ed, youth events, chess tournaments, host a yearly charity golf tournament, support local charities, seminarians, etc. The national organization has yearly quotas for time donated and money raised on a per-person basis. So if say, half of the members don't do anything, then the rest have to do double in order to meet the goals.

Every month a typical knight would attend the business meeting and participate in one other activity. Say a total of 3 to 4 hours per month, but it varies with each knight, how young his kids are, whether he travels for work, etc. Retired guys tend to do more.

It sounds like work, but it's really a joy to do worthwhile things with other motivated Catholic men. And we do have social events that involve wives and kids, too.

As St Paul says, God loves a cheerful giver.

[/quote]

yearly quotas

Tell me more about these "yearly quotas".

Is this about what the local council does as a local council, or does it include things the individual Knights would have been doing anyway, even if they were not Knights? What sense does it make to tell the national organization that you have volunteered as a lector to inflate council activity, when in fact, one has been a lector for 20 years before becoming a Knight? What sense does it make to join the Knights, in order to be of service, when you could well do that without joining the Knights? What does the national organization do if a council does not meet "quotas"?


#12

I’ll give this a shot as a 4th degree member of the K of C for 10+ years:

Yes, the K of C was founded for the support of widows & orphans. The insurance program in place currently has spawned from this original purpose. The current purpose is founded in the 4 degrees of the K of C - Charity, Unity, Fraternity & Patriotism.

Upon joining you will be asked to meet with an insurance agent, once. If you’re not interested it should not go any further. If you are interested, there are many highly competitive insurance programs available.

You can give as much time as you are able. Situations within people’s live change frequently. You may be able to participate a lot for a couple years, and then a situation will arise where you can’t participate at all. This is understandable, as we all have our lives outside the K of C to consider.

There is usually an annual dues payment, I think my council’s is around $35 per year currently. This will be the only money you wil be “required” to pay. There will be numerous fundraisers, social activities, etc. that may require additional expenditure; but these are never required.

You are considered a “full” member after receiving your 3rd degree. The degrees are ritualistic in nature, but not in a harmful way. They are based on religious tradition and teaching. the 4th degree is completely optional, and many members do not participate in this degree.

At the council level, it’s all about raising money for charity, helping staff parish activities, attending social functions run by the council, etc. There is typically a “General” meeting once a month on a weeknight where council business is discussed. there is a monthly officers’ meeting, where those elected to positions within the council meet & approve expenditures, discuss upcoming activities, etc. We also have a social night for members once a month where you can come down to the council hall, watch a sporting event, play cards, etc.

Now that I mentioned the council hall, I’ll talk about that. Not all K of C councils have a hall. Many do. The hall is not a part of the K of C. The K of C, based in New Haven, CT, is not affiliated with any council hall. The liability issues raised by owning real estate do not appeal to the K of C organization. That being the case, the halls are owned by “The Corporation”. The Corporation’s members are the members of the K of C council. The Corporation is an unaffiliated entity of the K of C.

The management of the hall is handled differently all over, but in this current economy, many halls are having trouble meeting expense demands, and are closing down due to this. It’s another whole discussion I’d be happy to go into at another time; but suffice is to say, a council which has a hall has another whole list of responsibilities that comes with it.

On a local council level there’s typically a bit of politics in play as to who is the Grand Knight, Deputy Grans Knight, Chancellor, Warden, etc. It’s generally called moving up through the chairs where a Warden becomes the Chancellor in the next election cycle, etc. The are other officer positions that can be held outside the “chairs”; and these are more appealing to those who don’t want to be extremely involved in the running of the council. Being a Grand Knight, Deputy GK, Chancellor, etc. can become very time consuming.

The council is governed by a District Deputy, who typically manages several councils as a representative of a county K of C organization. Our DD has 5 councils currently that he manages. He reports to the county chapter; and the county chapter is a part of the State K of C organization. Once we get to County & State positions, there’s all kinds of political activities going on with a lot of behind the scenes type action.

I’m not one for politics, and I shy away from anything having to do with anything above the “council” level. I was much more active 5 years ago than I am now, but I still participate as much as possible. I am always accepted by the members, and I consider most of the members good friends.

Just to mention, the 4th degree has it’s own structure within the county & state, and it has it’s whole political heirarchy outside the regular K of C as I described above. there again, you will be asked to help as much as possible with some things, but it’s not necessary. I think my 4th degree dues are around $15 per year currently.

To address a previous poster, there are no requirements for hours or donations or insurance members sign-ups, etc. There are goals set by New Haven for new members to be brought in & new insurance members to be signed up. If the goals are met, an award is given to the council. If the goals are not met, oh well…better luck next year. The manhours worked in council efforts is a part of a questionairre filled out by the Financial Secretary & filed with the K of C in New Haven. this is for informational purposes only, and is for public relations purposes more than anything else.

I find it rewarding for me, as I can pick and choose what I participate in, and I can choose to not participate in things that may be too expensive for me, may reqire too much of a time commitment, or may be something I don’t particularly care for.

Did I miss anything?

Mike


#13

Sounds like you pretty much nailed it, Mike. Thanks!

It bears noting that a K of C Council, much like any other fraternal organization, will appeal to you largely based on its membership and they activities in which they participate. My council is small and concentrates mostly on charitable work. My father-in-law, who lives in a nearby city, doesn't affiliate with his local council because a lot of their activities are focused on hanging out and drinking (to the point where several men have gotten divorced because they spent more time drinking with their brother Knights than at home with their wife). There also exists the possibility of extreme issues like those brought up in this thread by CatholicBoy1957, though those are thankfully the exception rather than the rule.

So, before you decide to join, talk to members of your local council. Try to get a good feel for how they work and act as a group. If your wife is friends with any of their wives, maybe she can get a read on their thoughts on the council. It's important to remember that you really do join as a family...anything you do with the Knights will either have to involve your family or be more time away from them. So your wife at an absolute minimum should be on board with you joining.

Hope all this helped!


#14

[quote="cjmclark, post:13, topic:284935"]
My father-in-law, who lives in a nearby city, doesn't affiliate with his local council because a lot of their activities are focused on hanging out and drinking (to the point where several men have gotten divorced because they spent more time drinking with their brother Knights than at home with their wife).

[/quote]

This was a problem in our council many years before I joined. The council was involved in some drinking and gambling that was causing problems for the members at home. Wives were appealing to the pastor to do something. He was not happy about it, and it caused a large rift between the K of C and the parish. Thankfully, this was somehow stopped through the hard work of the council, and we currently hold a place of importance with the parish, the pastor, etc.

Mike


#15

[quote="Midtown_Mike, post:14, topic:284935"]
This was a problem in our council many years before I joined. The council was involved in some drinking and gambling that was causing problems for the members at home. Wives were appealing to the pastor to do something. He was not happy about it, and it caused a large rift between the K of C and the parish. Thankfully, this was somehow stopped through the hard work of the council, and we currently hold a place of importance with the parish, the pastor, etc.

Mike

[/quote]

:thumbsup:

Glad to hear it all worked out! It's nice to see what can happen when folks work together to make things right.


#16

Fascinating info and I thank you for filling me in.


#17

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