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The New Millennium: 2000 and onwards

Oct. 4, 2001, priest blesses a 20-foot tall cross of steel beams, World Trade Center, New York. The Knights of Columbus Heroes Fund, September 11 attacks

Standing with laborers and emergency workers Oct. 4, 2001, a priest blesses a 20-foot tall cross of steel beams that had been recovered from the rubble of the World Trade Center in New York. The Knights of Columbus Heroes Fund was established on the day following the Sept. 11 attacks. (CNS photo from Reuters)

On May 21, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized 25 martyrs of Mexico, including six members of the Knights of Columbus. Less than one year later, Carl A. Anderson was installed as the 13th supreme knight in Mexico City and dedicated the Order and his administration to Mary under her title Our Lady of Guadalupe. As Patroness of the Americas and Star of the New Evangelization, Our Lady has inspired the Order’s efforts, just as she inspired the steadfast faith of the Knights of Columbus martyrs.

In the past decade, the Order has continued to build upon its rich tradition of charitable work and spiritual formation. Various new charitable initiatives, as well as ongoing partnerships with organizations such as Special Olympics, have given Knights countless opportunities to practice what John Paul II called “a charity which evangelizes.” Organizing increased outreach to pregnancy resource centers, providing greater spiritual support for men and women in the military and playing a significant role in World Youth Days are just some of the many ways that the Order has worked in recent years to promote a true culture of life.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, wrote that a Christian must have “a heart which sees” — that is, which “sees where love is needed and acts accordingly.” For Knights, this often means recognizing where people are most in need and responding with material or volunteer support. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Order delivered immediate assistance to the families of fallen first responders. And when natural disasters struck, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Haitian earthquake in 2011, Knights similarly responded with immediate aid.

Finally, just as they responded to the forces of secularism and prejudice in the past, Knights have stood by their bishops and have witnessed to the importance of religion and religious liberty for society. As the cause for canonization of Venerable Michael McGivney moves forward, so too do his Knights, seeking to build a civilization of love.

  • 2000: Pope John Paul II canonizes six Mexican priest-members of the Knights of Columbus who were martyred during the era of Church persecution there in the early 20th century. The following year, John Paul II beatifies Blessed Carlos Rodríguez, a layman from Puerto Rico. Three additional members from Mexico have since been beatified, and one canonized.

  • 2001: The Knights of Columbus Museum opens in New Haven. In addition to a permanent exhibit on the Order's history, the museum has featured numerous temporary exhibits and priceless works of art, such as Michelangelo's 16-foot wooden study model for the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.

  • 2001: In response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Knights on Sept. 12 establishes its $1 million Heroes Fund. Checks for $3,000 are presented to the families of all full-time professional law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical personnel who lost their lives at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Forty-five Knights were killed on 9/11.

  • 2002: The Order establishes a $2 million Pacem in Terris Fund to promote peace and education initiatives in the Holy Land and provide support for the Christian community there.

  • 2003: 100,000 copies of a pocket-sized prayer book, Armed With the Faith, are printed by the Order and the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and sent to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with 10,000 rosaries.

  • 2005: The Knights send 2,000 wheelchairs to land-mine victims and people with disabilities in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Through its partnership with the Global Wheelchair Mission, Knights have since distributed nearly 25,000 wheelchairs around the world.

  • 2005: Villa Maria Guadalupe, the Order’s pro-life retreat center in Stamford, Conn., operated by the Sisters of Life, opens.

  • 2006: In its first international expansion in almost a century, the Order charters its first councils in Poland, beginning with John Paul II Council 14000 in Krakow.

  • 2006: In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the U.S. Gulf, Knights donate more than $10 million and 100,000 volunteer hours to help rebuild Catholic churches and schools.

  • 2007: The Knights of Columbus Incarnation Dome, a 3,780-square-foot mosaic depicting mysteries of Christ’s life, is constructed at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

  • 2007: Represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Knights and K of C families are defendant-intervenors in a case challenging the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Court decisions in 2009 and 2010 uphold the words’ constitutionality.

  • 2008: On March 16, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI approves a decree of heroic virtue for Father Michael J. McGivney, declaring him “Venerable.”

  • 2008: The Order is present throughout Pope Benedict XVI’s pastoral visit to the United States. A K of C-commissioned plaque commemorates the pope’s Mass at Yankee Stadium. It accompanies two similar plaques, which commemorate Masses that Pope John Paul II and Pope Paul VI celebrated there.

  • 2008: McGivney Hall, the new home of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America, is dedicated Sept. 8.

  • 2009: The Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative launches Jan. 22, 2009. To date, more than 250 ultrasound machines have been purchased for pro-life pregnancy centers using matching funds from the Order’s Culture of Life Fund, established in 2008.

  • 2009: The Order hosts a “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” summit on volunteerism in New York and designates 2009 as the Year of the Volunteer. The Knights of Columbus Coats for Kids program launches; to date, the initiative has provided more than 45,000 winter coats to children throughout the United States and Canada.

  • 2009: Giovanni Alemanno, the mayor of Rome, presents Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson with “Lupa Capitolina” award for the Order’s 90 years of service to the Eternal City. The following year, the city hosts an exhibit about the 90-year relationship at the Capitoline Museum.

  • 2009: Following the 127th Supreme Convention in Phoenix, the Order hosts the first International Marian Congress and Guadalupe Festival, gathering about 20,000 participants.

  • 2010: Following the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, the Order provides immediate assistance to Catholic Relief Services, establishes a relief fund and purchases 1,000 wheelchairs for Haitians suffering disabilities. In partnership with Project Medishare, the Knights’ “Healing Haiti’s Children” program provides prosthetics and two years of physical therapy for children who lost limbs in the earthquake.

  • 2010: Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of Havana, receives the Gaudium et Spes Award, and with assistance from the Knights, the first new seminary in Cuba in more than 50 years is opened. Two years earlier, a delegation of Knights from Cuba attended the Supreme Convention for the first time in 60 years.

  • 2011: To address the severe shortage of military chaplains, the Knights established a new scholarship program for the Military Archdiocese’s Co-Sponsored Seminarian program.

  • 2011: Building on the success of their collaboration at World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, the Knights and the Sisters of Life co-sponsor the Love and Life Centre, the official English-language catechetical site at World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid, Spain.

  • 2011: The Order establishes a Shrine of Blessed John Paul II in Washington, D.C., at the site of the former John Paul II Cultural Center. Supreme Knight Anderson announces the initiative will include permanent exhibits celebrating the life and teachings of the late pope and the 500-year Catholic heritage of North America.

  • 2012: The Knights supports the efforts of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and its Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, under the leadership of Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, in addressing contemporary challenges to religious freedom and conscience in the United States.

  • 2012: The Guadalupe Celebration, the largest religious event in that city in a generation, was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles under Archbishop Jose Gomez, and the Institute for Guadalupan Studies in Mexico City, on Aug. 5 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

  • 2012: The Knights of Columbus shipped aid and funds to those in need in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, with more than $500,000 in funds donated.

  • 2012: The Knights of Columbus and Pontifical Commission for Latin America cosponsored a conference on “Ecclesia in America” (The Church in America), with assistance from the Institute for Guadalupan Studies in Mexico City held at the Vatican from Dec. 9-12.

  • 2013: Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, representing the Knights of Columbus, attended the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as he was appointed the 266th Roman Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis, March 13.

  • 2013: Knights and their families and guests gathered at “America’s Catholic Church” in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Knights Tower Carillon and to reconsecrate the Order to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

  • 2013: A new K of C initiative began to provide funding for Boston Marathon bombing victims, helping amputees acquire prosthetic devices not covered by insurance.

  • 2013: Francis: The Pope from the New World, a K of C-produced documentary on the life story of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, aired Oct. 20. The film aired on several networks and was also made available on DVD.

  • 2013: A major meeting led by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and co-sponsored by the Knights of Columbus discussed the role and mission of the Catholic Church in North, South and Central America. The conference was held at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City from Nov. 16-19.

  • 2013: Following the destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Knights of Columbus in the Visayas jurisdiction delivered food, water and other necessities during a relief operation.

  • 2014: The Knights of Columbus is recognized by the Ethisphere Institute, an independent center of research promoting best practices in corporate ethics and governance, as a 2014 World’s Most Ethical Company.®

  • 2014: The Order’s: Saint John Paul II National Shrine receives designation from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as a national shrine.

  • 2014: The Knights of Columbus Christian Refugee Relief initiative stands at more than $2 million in public donations and Order-raised funds, which are distributed to support humanitarian assistance to refugees fleeing persecution in Iraq and the surrounding areas.

  • 2014: The Knights launch the “Building the Domestic Church” initiative.

  • 2014: The Knights of Columbus donates an ultrasound machine to a Baltimore pregnancy center, making it the: 500th such gift by the Order.

  • 2015: Haitian amputee athletes attended a meeting at the Vatican, Jan. 10, in a visit sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.

  • 2015: The Guadium et Spes Award, the Order’s highest honor, was presented to Cardinal Francis George, the 11th recipient of the award since its establishment in 1992.

  • 2015: The Knights of Columbus provided $400,000 to the Ukrainian-rite and Latin-rite Catholic communities of Ukraine. The funds were used for humanitarian relief, including projects that fed and aided homeless children and refugees living on the streets of the capital city of Kyiv.

  • 2015: The Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors announced the creation of four faith-based investment solutions specifically designed to meet the needs of Catholic institutions.

  • 2015: The Special Olympics World Games were held in in July, with 7,000 athletes from more than 177 countries traveling to Los Angeles for the event. The Knights of Columbus donated $1.4 million to fund the qualified athletes from the U.S. and Canada.

  • 2015: In July, the Knights of Columbus began the Christians at Risk national campaign, which raises funds and fosters awareness of the persecution of religious minorities in the Middle East.

  • 2015: Supreme Knight Carl Anderson presented charters for St. Andrew Kim Daegun Council 16000 and St. Paul Chong Hasang Council 16178 in Seoul, South Korea, on April 18. Named for 19th-century Korean martyrs, these are the first councils instituted in Korea outside a military base and the first on the mainland of Asia.

  • 2015: The Knights of Columbus marked the: 125th anniversary of the death of Father Michael McGivney with a special Mass at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn.

  • 2015: The Order funded the delivery of one month’s supply of food to more than 13,500 Iraqi Christians as part of its multimillion dollar initiative to aid displaced Christian families and other persecuted religious communities in the Middle East.

  • 2015: In September, the Supreme Council and countless Knights served as volunteers at many events during Pope Francis’ first apostolic visit to the United States and the World Meeting of Families, both held in Philadelphia.

  • 2015: Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz of Kraków, Poland, joined the Knights of Columbus for the dedication of the main altar at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C.

  • 2015: The Knights of Columbus surpassed $100 billion of life insurance in force, highlighting the fraternal benefit society’s mission to protect Catholic families.

  • 2016: Knights from the Philippines came together during the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu City, Visayas, Jan. 24-31. The Supreme Council was a major sponsor of the congress, providing funding for the satellite uplink that broadcast the proceedings worldwide and other media materials.

  • 2016: During Pope Francis’ first visit to Mexico, Feb. 12-17, Knights served as volunteers at various papal events. Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson, Mexican state deputies and local council leaders attended the papal Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, home of the miraculous image of Our Lady imprinted on St. Juan Diego’s tilma.

  • 2016: The Knights of Columbus applauded the U.S. State Department’s March 17 declaration that Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East face genocide at the hands of ISIS. The Knights was credited for its effort in pressing for this declaration, particularly through the: preparation of a 300-page report containing information regarding the dangerous, genocidal conditions in the Middle East.

  • 2016: On April 2, vigil for the feast of the Divine Mercy and 11th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s death, the Knights of Columbus Board of Directors joined Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore for the dedication of the altar in the Luminous Mysteries Chapel of the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C.

  • 2016: Supreme Knight Carl Anderson addressed the United Nations on April 28 as part of a panel discussion focusing on human rights abuses and the persecution of religious minorities in the Middle East and throughout the world.

  • 2016: July 26-31, with the help of partnering organizations, the Knights of Columbus sponsored the international site for English-speaking pilgrims attending World Youth Day 2016 in Kraków, Poland. The Knights’ site, the Mercy Centre at the Tauron Arena Kraków, welcomed more than 100,000 young pilgrims over six days, making it the location of the largest WYD gatherings outside the main papal events.

  • 2016: The Order’s highest honor, the Guadium et Spes Award, was presented to the Little Sisters of the Poor for their witness to the Gospel and their defense of religious liberty. The community was the 12th recipient of the award since its establishment in 1992.

  • 2016: Ukraine, the Order’s newest territory, has nearly 600 members in 13 councils, and the Order has also taken root in France and Lithuania.

  • 2016: The Order commissioned American artist Chas Fagan to paint a portrait of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The portrait later became her official canonization image and was gifted to the Missionaries of Charity, the order founded by Mother Teresa in 1950. The image was publically displayed on the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica at her Vatican canonization, Sept. 4.

  • 2017: The Knights of Columbus documentary, Liberating a Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism is honored with two Emmy Awards at the 58th annual Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards, hosted by the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

  • 2017: The Knights of Columbus contributed almost $2 million to various aid programs in the Middle East that have received little to no funding from the U.S. government or international community since ISIS began its genocidal campaign against the region’s religious minorities in 2014.

  • 2017: Supreme Knight Carl Anderson: addressed the Convocation of Catholic Leaders in Orlando, July 3. This convocation of leaders from Catholic organizations and dioceses around the country was convened by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to help examine and discuss challenges for the Church in America.