Supreme Knight’s Report Highlights Order’s Charity
In his annual report delivered at the 134th Supreme Convention in Toronto, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson noted the Order’s record levels of charity, with over $175 million in donations and over 73.5 million hours of volunteer service.
The supreme knight also cited some of the major accomplishments of the Order: the further development of the Knights of Columbus’ Building the Domestic Church initiative and continued support for Christians at risk, including those suffering genocide at the hands of ISIS.
At the opening of his report, the supreme knight officially announced the convention’s theme.
“We also recall the words of Pope Francis,” Supreme Knight Anderson said. “He has called Catholics to a new sense of missionary discipleship and fraternal brotherhood. He has urged Catholics to go out to the peripheries. And he has placed great confidence in the Knights of Columbus. And so, I am pleased to announce the theme of our 134th Supreme Convention: ‘A Light to the Nations.’”
The supreme knight spoke to an audience of nearly 95 archbishops and bishops, including 11 cardinals, scores of clergy and approximately 2,000 members of the Knights and their families from throughout North and Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Europe.
“Our charity is motivated by faith. And our faith is a gift to be shared,” stated Supreme Knight Anderson. “When we bring new men into the Order, we give them the opportunity to be better Catholics. And we multiply the good works that we can do. I am pleased to report that our membership grew for the 44th consecutive year to a record high of 1,918,122 brother Knights. Soon, we will number more than 2 million men.”
He also announced that the Knights of Columbus has seen impressive membership growth in new areas such as Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland.
“In one decade, we have grown in Poland to nearly 90 local councils with nearly 4, 400 members,” the supreme knight said. “In Ukraine, we now have 566 members in 13 councils. And because of this, the Supreme Directors voted in April to establish Ukraine as our newest territory.”
Supreme Knight Anderson noted that in his recent apostolic exhortation, Pope Francis asks, “Who is making an effort to strengthen marriages, to help married couples overcome their problems, to assist them in the work of raising children and to encourage the stability of the marriage bond?”
The answer, the supreme knight said, is the Knights of Columbus.
“Because the light of faith is first transmitted within the family and nurtured in the parish, we have started new programs to strengthen both our families and our parishes. They especially give young fathers the tools they need to bring their families closer together and closer to God,” Supreme Knight Anderson said. The Building the Domestic Church program, he added, provides concrete ways in which Knights can reach out to accompany wounded families.
“I ask each of you to take to heart our responsibility as leaders of the most important Catholic men’s organization in the world,” Supreme Knight Anderson asked his brother Knights. “What we do in our families and parishes will change the history of the Catholic Church in our communities. And it will help ensure the future of those parishes. The strong right arm of the Catholic Church must also be the strong right arm of our parish church. Today, this is what it means to be a light to the nations.”
Along with growth in membership and charity, the Knights of Columbus also achieved records in its insurance program.
“This year, we have seen Father McGivney’s legacy of shielding Catholic families from financial disaster reach new milestones,” Supreme Knight Anderson said. “This year our insurance program achieved its 15th consecutive year of growth. We set a record high of 8.4 billion dollars in new sales. This represents nearly 72,000 new life certificates, surpassing the closest fraternal benefit society by more than 25,000. Our five-year sales growth of nearly 1.6 percent is above that of the insurance industry as a whole. Last year, our insurance in force grew by more than $4 billion. And in the last 13 years, our insurance in force has more than doubled. Today, we have more than 2 million certificates in force. “But our greatest achievement was reaching this milestone,” he added. “We surpassed $100 billion of life insurance in force.”
The Knights of Columbus Investment Department also saw a successful year, especially in the Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors, which is in its 17th month of operation and has 50 clients, including religious orders, dioceses and local and state councils. Asset Advisors is already among the top 200 asset managers in the United States.
One of the Knights of Columbus’ greatest endeavors during the past fraternal year was the assistance it brought to Christians facing persecution, especially those facing genocide in the Middle East.
“In Iraq, Syria and neighboring countries, Christians and other religious minorities are facing extinction,” the supreme knight said. “Many receive no support from their governments or from the United Nations. They have had to rely on their fellow Christians and they have been able to rely on the Knights of Columbus. Since 2014, we have raised more than $11 million for Christian refugees. And that money has been a lifeline.”
Contributions received by the Knights helped fund the following:
- In Erbil, Iraq, $800,000 dollars to supply food for 13,500 families.
- Medical clinics and long-term infrastructure projects, including 120 apartments to provide permanent housing.
- Support to all the Syriac Catholic priests exiled from Mosul after it fell to ISIS in 2014.
- Catechetical classes for Syriac and Chaldean Catholics.
- In Syria, assistance to the besieged Christians of Aleppo.
- In Jordan, with Catholic Relief Services, support for educational initiatives for refugees.
- In Lebanon, support for a variety of programs.
“These efforts depend upon the active involvement of our brother Knights,” Supreme Knight Anderson continued. “Some have donated to our Christian Refugee Relief Fund. Others have responded by participating in our Solidarity Cross program, through our councils which have sold more than 82,000 olive wood crosses made by Christians in the Holy Land.”
Along with vital financial assistance, the Knights of Columbus also worked to have the American government recognize that the persecution of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East by ISIS is genocide. The Knights of Columbus did an enormous amount of research that was compiled into a nearly 300-page report documenting conclusively that the genocide perpetrated by ISIS against Christians is a reality. The Knights also conducted a powerful public awareness campaign to support this effort.
As a result, both chambers of the U.S. Congress, as well as the Secretary of State declared that the targeting of Christians is genocide.
“My brother Knights, we made history!” Anderson said. “However, this is only the beginning. We will continue to work to ensure that the Christians who still speak the language of Jesus, and whose ancestors baptized St. Paul, survive.”
Of the good works performed by Knights of Columbus, the supreme knight said at the close of his address:
“In thousands of ways, every day the Church of the Good Samaritan lives and grows through the works of charity that are the hallmark of the Knights of Columbus. And all of this is the legacy of our founder, the Venerable Father Michael McGivney whose spiritual genius inspired generations of Catholic men to step forward with courage to confront the challenges of their day by living out the principles of charity, unity and fraternity in a distinctly Catholic way.”
“The prophetic flame of which Pope Francis speaks continues to burn bright in the hearts of our brother Knights around the world,” the supreme knight said. “That flame enkindles in them a true sense of Catholic charity, a charity that evangelizes and brings in a very concrete way, a light to the nations.”
“Yes, it is the hour of the laity,” he added “It is the hour of the Knights of Columbus.”