The Knights of Columbus furthered several initiatives in Catholic education: support of Catholic schools, scholarship funds for Catholic seminaries and universities, and the establishment of a North American campus of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.
In addition to celebrating the fifth centenary of the evangelization of the New World, the Order also honored contemporary models of holiness. Supreme Knight Dechant presented Mother Teresa with the inaugural Gaudium et Spes Award in 1992, and the Archdiocese of Hartford officially opened the cause for Father McGivney’s canonization, with the Knights’ support, in 1997.
1979: In cooperation with the U.S. bishops, the Order underwrites the filming of Pope John Paul II’s first pastoral visit to the United States.
1979: The Knights establishes a $1 million Father Michael J. McGivney Fund for New Initiatives in Catholic Education to be administered by the National Catholic Educational Association. Annual proceeds are used to this day to finance programs that advance Catholic schools.
1981: The Order begins a four-year restoration of St. Mary’s Church, the birthplace of the Knights. The renovations include work on the organ, floors, pews, ceilings, statues and more. The project is capped by the placement of a 179-foot steeple atop the church.
1982 (left image): The Knights of Columbus celebrates its centennial. President Ronald Reagan attends the 100th Supreme Convention, as well as Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, sent by Pope John Paul II as his personal envoy.
1982: The Order establishes several funds to help finance studies for priests and seminarians in Rome at pontifical colleges. These funds have been increased over the years to support seminarians and priests from the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Philippines.
1984: In recognition of the Order’s volunteer service, President Ronald Reagan awards the Knights a President’s Volunteer Action Award at a White House ceremony.
1985: The Order agrees to underwrite the restoration of the 65,000-square-foot facade of St. Peter’s Basilica, the first time it has been cleaned in more than 350 years. Several subsequent projects have taken place at St. Peter’s, including the restoration of chapels and of the Holy Year Door.
1988: Mother Teresa visits the Supreme Council office. The Order agrees to print copies of her Constitutions of the Missionaries of Charity, prayer cards and other religious items, a project that continues today.
1988: The Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family opens a North American branch in Washington, D.C., with funding from the Knights. Carl A. Anderson is the institute’s first vice president and dean.
1989: The Bicentennial of the U.S. Hierarchy Fund is established in the amount of $2 million to benefit The Catholic University of America. Earnings from the fund pay for projects at the university each year.
1992: The Knights celebrates the fifth centenary of evangelization in the Americas. Replicas of the Cross of the New World presented to Pope John Paul II on his pastoral visit to Santo Domingo in 1984 are distributed by the Knights for use in dioceses throughout the Order in prayer services highlighting the theme of evangelization.
1992: Mother Teresa is presented with the Order’s first Gaudium et Spes Award at the 110th Supreme Convention in New York. The “Joy and Hope” award acknowledges her contributions to the Church and the world.
1995: The Order co-sponsors with the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y., Pope John Paul II’s Mass at Aqueduct Racetrack during the pope’s pastoral visit to the United States.
1997: The Archdiocese of Hartford officially opens the cause for canonization of Father Michael J. McGivney with support from the Knights of Columbus. The Father McGivney Guild is established to promote his cause.