The Work Continues
THE KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS still practice their founding mission: namely, to seek out and defend those most in need, whether those needs be food, clothing, dignity or the freedom to practice their faith.
Last year, in response to the economic recession, the Knights hosted a summit of charity and business leaders on how volunteerism could promote a stronger sense in America of neighbors helping neighbors. At the same time, the Knights launched nationwide programs to distribute food, warm clothing and other basic necessities to those most in need in their own communities. In addition, since the 1960s, the Knights have worked closely with Special Olympics, providing financing and thousands of volunteer hours in order to enable athletes with special needs to compete and achieve their dreams.
The protection of marriages and families has been of utmost importance to the Knights of Columbus from the beginning: Today, the organization continues to value the life and dignity of each person, born and unborn. One way the Knights work toward this goal is by providing ultrasound machines to pregnancy centers across the country, helping educate mothers on their unborn child.
The Knights have also sponsored conferences on the effects of abortion and divorce, including a conference cosponsored with the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Rome. And, in keeping with their concern for protecting religious liberties, the Knights have hosted conferences on the topic with the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.
Finally, the Knights of Columbus has been quick to respond to disasters. In the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, the Knights immediately provided financial assistance to families of full-time emergency responders who were killed in the attacks. And in 2005, when the United States’ Gulf Coast was devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Knights committed more than $10 million and countless volunteer hours in the cleanup and rebuilding effort.
More than 125 years after its founding, the Knights of Columbus continues to serve communities around the world, help those in need, and serve the Church locally and globally.
As an organization with members around the world, the Knights of Columbus often responds to natural disasters, and other scenes of human tragedy. Whether bringing relief to those whose homes were recently flooded in Mexico or the Philippines, or helping the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, or assisting the families of emergency personnel killed on September 11, 2001, or providing wheelchairs to those injured in this year’s earthquake in Haiti, the Knights are a strong force for charity, wherever it is needed.
A Civilization of Love
The Knights of Columbus is committed to helping build what became a constant theme in the pontificate of Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI: a civilization of love. From building houses for needy families, to providing children with winter coats; and from encouraging volunteerism amid global recession, to ensuring that troops overseas have resources to grow in their faith, Knights across the world are guided by the organization’s first principles: charity and unity.
The Playgrounds Today
The Knights of Columbus playgrounds in Rome are still used today by local youth soccer clubs, hospitals and rehabilitation centers, and many others. The fields at the new St. Peter’s Oratory (moved in the 1960s when the Knights donated the land of the first St. Peter’s Oratory for the creation of the Paul VI Audience Hall) are host to the annual Clericus Cup - the much-anticipated soccer tournament in which hundreds of seminarians studying in Rome participate.
Hearts of Gold
The Knights of Columbus believe in standing up for the dignity of all, including the intellectually disabled. Since the 1960s, the Knights have been actively involved with Special Olympics, founded by Eunice Shriver, wife of Knight of Columbus and first Peace Corps director Sargent Shriver. The Knights help these young athletes to achieve their dreams, sponsoring games and serving as tireless volunteers and supporters for Special Olympics events at the local, national and even international level.
A Continuing Presence in Rome
Sponsoring academic, religious and cultural events, the Knights of Columbus continues its active involvement in Rome. In 2004, the Knights financed a major Concert of Reconciliation in Vatican City, which was attended by Pope John Paul II as well as the former chief rabbi of Rome and imam of Rome’s mosque. More recently, the organization has sponsored conferences on social issues including divorce, abortion and religious freedom.