FROM DAY ONE of Supreme Knight Anderson’s tenure, he spoke of “a moral obligation to offer the opportunity of membership in the Knights of Columbus to every eligible Catholic man.” He further emphasized Father McGivney’s desire, when founding the Knights in 1882, to establish a council in every parish. In the past two decades, the Order has made strides toward these goals — growing from 1.6 million members in 2000 to 2 million today, and chartering thousands of new councils in that time.
This growth has included international expansion of the Order for the first time in nearly a century (see page 14) and a surge in membership in the Philippines, where the number of Knights and councils has more than doubled. College Knights and councils have also grown more than 100%.
At the 2019 midyear meeting of state deputies, Supreme Knight Anderson announced a groundbreaking new combined exemplification of charity, unity and fraternity, which “stays true to our traditions while addressing the needs of our times.” Together with the Order’s online membership initiative introduced a year earlier, the new exemplification has made joining the Knights much more accessible.
“We must find new ways to bring the men we need — and the men who need us — into our Order,” the supreme knight explained. “We must forge a new generation of Knights — men who see in our principles of charity, unity and fraternity a path to leading a Catholic way of life that can strengthen their families, their parishes and their communities.”
AS THE KNIGHTS of Columbus celebrated the centennial of its presence in Mexico and the Philippines in 2005, Supreme Knight Anderson announced that the board of directors had voted to accept an invitation from the Polish bishops — and Pope John Paul II — to expand for the first time to Europe.
Since the first councils in Poland were chartered in January 2006, the Knights’ presence there has grown to 136 councils with more than 6,300 members, including more than 600 priests. The first councils in Ukraine, as well as a roundtable in Lithuania, were established in 2013. In 2014, the first non-military councils were chartered in Korea. And a year later, the Knights established a presence in France, which now counts 24 councils in 14 dioceses.
In his 2020 annual report, the supreme knight noted that the Order’s growing presence in these new jurisdictions testifies to “the universality of Father McGivney’s vision and the appeal of the Knights of Columbus.”
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