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125 Years in Review – 1880s

Through the efforts of Father Michael J. McGivney, the Knights of Columbus is born on Feb. 6, 1882, when the first members choose Columbus as patron.
“Charity” and “Unity” are chosen as the Order’s founding principles; “Fraternity” is added in 1885 and “Patriotism” in 1900.
Father Michael J. McGivney’s name is listed first among the insured members of the Order in a record book dating back to the founding.

Immediately after the Order’s March 29, 1882 incorporation, Father McGivney sends the first diocesan-wide appeal for new members to his fellow priests.
A celebratory parade and clambake held Aug.12, 1885 in New Haven, draws a reported 12,000 Knights and supporters.
During his four-year tenure as supreme knight from 1882-86, James Mullen presides personally at the institution of 22 of the first 38 councils.
The Order’s first headquarters is one room located on the second floor of a three-story building next to New Haven’s City Hall.
In 1889, the Order’s Board of Government (Supreme Council) votes to pay $1,000 to Father McGivney “in gratitude” for his services in establishing and promoting the Knights.
John J. Phelan is elected supreme knight (1886-97) and is the first leader to sense the Order’s destiny as a national society.
Father McGivney dies on Aug.14, 1890. His funeral Mass is celebrated in Thomaston, Conn., on Aug.18.



Historical Highlights
125 Years in Review
The McGivney Legacy
Supreme Knights Gallery
St. Mary’s Church
Papal Moments
At Work Everywhere
His Timeless Message
Faith in Action
Knights of Columbus Photo Album