By their deeds shall you know them. The Knights of Columbus is very much a grassroots organization. The international body does not dictate the charitable programs andv activities of local councils. Rather, local councils develop thev programs they believe will best serve the needs of theirv communities. Those needs are met under the umbrella of the “Surge. . . With Service” program. It has five core areas: Church, community, council, family and youth. Within this framework, state and local councils decide how best to direct their efforts. Funds raised by the state and local councils remain with them for distribution in the ways the members feel best.
This philosophy makes possible local efforts such as donating state-of-the-art computers to a Texas seminary; pledging $100,000 to a New Brunswick church to improve access for disabled people; raising $50,000 to equip police cars with cardiac defibrillators; or sponsoring a free medical clinic in the Philippines. Vocations support is also a major Knights of Columbus effort at all levels of the Order. State and local councils directly support seminaries and vocations promotion efforts. Additionally many councils participate in the RSVP (Refund Vocations Support Program) by “adopting” a seminarian or postulant and providing him with moral and financial support. For each $500 in direct aid given to the candidate for the priesthood or religious life, the Supreme Council refunds $100 to the council. Through this program alone more than $2 million is given to seminarians and postulants each year.
Through the Father Michael J. McGivney Vocations Scholarship Fund and the Bishop Thomas V. Daily Vocations Scholarship Fund, with an aggregate corpus of $6.5 million, nearly 400 scholarships have been given to seminarians in theology studies. Of these, almost 200 have been ordained sincethese programs began.Strengthening family life is another major aim of the Order.Knights conduct a wide variety of activities and efforts to enhance and strengthen family life in accordance with the social teaching of the Church. This includes everything from the“ Family of the Month” program that recognizes outstandingfamilies on the local council level to funding the North American Campus of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America inWashington, D.C. The institute is a part of the Lateran University in Rome and it offers graduate level degrees to those who will be involved with family ministry in the Church.
The Order is also known as one of the world’s strongest proponents of the sanctity of human life from conception until natural death. Even before the Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion on demand in the United States, the Knights of Columbus has been in the vanguard of the pro-life movement. In addition to its own pro-life initiatives, the Order offers both assistance and financial support on an on-going basis to the pro-life programs of the bishops’ conferences in the countries where the Knights of Columbus exists.
In the latest of many efforts to restore a sense of the sanctity of human life in the world, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson has established March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, as the Knights of Columbus Day of the Unborn. On this day state and local councils across the globe are encouraged to organize special Masses and services. They pray that the Culture of Death that now darkens our world will become a Culture of Life celebrating the dignity and value of every human being from the moment of conception until natural death.