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10 Facts about Knights in Minnesota


By Andrew Butler

Ready for Supreme Convention? Get excited with these facts about Knights in the host state.

Metogga Lake Dairy Farm in New Prague, Minn.

A Knights of Columbus family has operated Metogga Lake Dairy Farm in New Prague, Minn., for more than 40 years.

Image courtesy Metogga Lake Dairy Farm

Hundreds of Knights and their families will arrive in Minneapolis, Minn., this August for the Knights of Columbus’ 137th Supreme Convention.

So, it’s fitting to highlight the amazing history and achievements of the Knights in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” Check out these 10 facts about our brother Knights from the state:

1) St. Paul Council 397 became the first Knights council west of Chicago.

It formed in 1899, only 17 years after Venerable Father Michael McGivney founded the Order in New Haven, Conn.

2) There are 282 Knights councils in Minnesota, and more than 40,000 Knights.

Of course, that number will increase significantly during the convention.

3) Visit the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis and you’ll find a statue of Father Louis Hennepin donated by the Minnesota Knights in 1930.

Hennepin, a 17th century missionary in North America, explored and named St. Anthony Falls, around which Minneapolis developed.

4) This isn’t the first time the Supreme Convention was hosted in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Knights have previously had that honor four times — in 1914, 1925, 1953 and 1999.

The Minnesota Knights are hard workers. During the planning for the 2019 Supreme Convention — a several year process — one member of the host committee suffered a heart attack and valve replacement, another an eye stroke that caused him to lose sight in one eye and a third fought cancer.

Philip Harter, Minnesota Past State Deputy and convention general co-chair, said that this didn’t stop them.

“Through it all, none gave up on their commitment; thankfully all will be able to enjoy this convention. Their commitment and fortitude have been motivating to all,” Philip Harter said. “We have done our best and hope all our guests enjoy a memorable convention.”

5) Minnesota is known as the “Bread and Butter State,” and one K of C family lives out that nickname every day.

The Metogga Lake Dairy Farm has been operated by a Knights of Columbus family for over 40 years. Ray Pieper and his family cares for 450 dairy cows and a total of 900 animals on 1,400 acres. The also raise grain, corn, soybeans and alfalfa.

6) A Knight led the Minnesota Twins to multiple World Series titles.

The Minnesota Twins have won the World Series three times — two of which were won under the management of brother Knight Tom Kelly in 1987 and 1991.

7) Students at a Minnesota seminary named for St. Jean Vianney are members of the council at the University of St. Thomas, where a senior seminarian typically serves as grand knight.

Speaking of St. Jean Vianney, the whole, incorrupt heart of that very saint will be available for veneration during the Supreme Convention as part of the K of C-sponsored Heart of a Priest pilgrimage. Convention attendees — both clergy and laity alike — can look to Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, as a model of holiness.

8) When he’s not helping provide financial protection for Catholic families, Knights of Columbus General Agent David Goedtke plays music with his talented family in Minnesota.

The family band will provide music during the Ladies’ Luncheon on Wednesday during the Supreme Convention.

9) Knights helped organize a Mass to kick off the year for 12,000 Catholic school children from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

The Mass was held at U.S. Bank Arena, the home of the Minnesota Vikings, last fall. Students donated winter clothing to the Knights of Columbus Coats for Kids drive and were encouraged to put their faith into action.

10) Knights have placed 34 ultrasound machines at pro-life pregnancy centers throughout Minnesota, with five more on the way.

It’s part of the Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative, which gives women the opportunity to see their unborn children on the machines.

As a bonus, check out some of the Catholic history of Minnesota:

Father Louis Hennepin, a 17th century missionary in North America, explored and named St. Anthony Falls, around which Minneapolis developed. Hennepin County, where Minneapolis is located, was named in his honor.

Catholic missions in Minnesota began in 1840 when Father Lucien Galtier traveled to Pig’s Eye — a community that later became St. Paul — to minister to newly settled French Canadians. The Diocese of St. Paul was established in 1850, and religious sisters arrived the following year. They established schools, a home for orphans, a mission for Native Americans, and a hospital.

The cornerstone for the current Cathedral of St. Paul was laid in 1907. The following year, work began on the Pro-Cathedral of Mary, Mother of God. In 1926, the pro-cathedral became the first basilica in the United States. It is now known as the Basilica of St. Mary of Minneapolis.

Today there are six dioceses in the state of Minnesota: the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Diocese of Crookston, the Diocese of Duluth, the Diocese of New Ulm, Diocese of St. Cloud, and the Diocese of Winona.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis alone has approximately 825,000 Catholics, including more than 400 priests and hundreds of deacons, religious sisters and brothers.

Thanks to the website of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as well as the Minnesota Knights for helpful info for this article.

Click here to learn more about the Knights and how you can get involved.

Send your Knights of Columbus story to andrew.butler@kofc.org