1800 SW State Route 150
Lees Summit, MO 64082
(816) 537-6990 Map
Holy Spirit Church
As the priest explained to a small group of men at a meeting in the
basement of St. Mary's Church in October 1881, his purpose in calling them
together was manifold: to help Catholic men remain steadfast in their faith
through mutual encouragement, to promote closer ties of fraternity among
them; and to set up an elementary system of insurance so that the widows
and children of members in the group who might die would not find
themselves in dire financial straits.
The founder and first officers of the fledgling organization chose the name
"Knights of Columbus" because they felt that, as a Catholic group, it should
relate to Christopher Columbus, the Catholic discoverer of America. This
would emphasize that it was a Catholic who discovered, explored, and
colonized the North American continent. At the same time "Knights" would
signify that the membership embodied knightly ideals of spirituality and
service to Church, country and fellowman.
By the end of 1897 the Order was thoroughly rooted in New England, along
the upper Atlantic seaboard and into Canada. Within the next eight years it
branched out from Quebec to California, and from Florida to Washington.
From such promising beginnings Father McGivney's original group has
blossomed into an international society of nearly 1.7 million Catholic men in
nearly 14,000 councils who have dedicated themselves to the ideals of
Columbianism: Charity, Unity, Fraternity, and Patriotism.
Today members of the Order are found in the United States, Canada,
Mexico, the Philipines, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Panama, Cuba, Guam, the
Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas. They belong to
many races and speak many different languages. They are diverse, yet
they are one. Their diversity spells creativity; their unity spells strength.
The Knights' creativity is manifested in numerous programs and projects
directed to the benefit of their fellowman. Their strength assures that these
programs are operated effectively and brought to positive conclusions.
Since assuming leadership of the Order in January 1977, Supreme Knight
Virgil C. Dechant has embarked on a series of significant projects designed
to strengthen Columbianism, the Church, the family and each individual
One of his first moves was to place his stewardship under the patronage
and protection of Our Lady, and he formalized this dedication during a
pilgrimage to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in
Washington, D.C. soon after he took office.
As a further concrete sign of his devotion to the Blessed Virgin under her
title, "Our Lady of the Rosary", he implemented a plan to present a special
"Knights of Columbus Rosary" to each new member enrolled in the society.
These have been distributed at the rate of 10,000 per month since the
The "Pilgrim Virgin-Marian Hour of Prayer" programs undertaken every two
years have attracted millions of participants to prayer services sponsored
by councils in honor of Our Lady under several of her titles.
His other initiatives have gone far toward strengthening the Order as it
confronts the increasing secularism of our modern age. He has renewed the
Knights´ pledge of loyalty and fidelity to the magisterium and to the
hierarchy of the Church in the countries where the Order exists. He also has
renewed the society's commitment to the pro-life activities of the U.S. and
Canadian bishops through periodic grants of $150,000 and $20,000
respectively, made by the Order to support the bishops' pro-life programs.
Among other, the Supreme Knight formulated a program to maintain the
involvement of the widows and children of deceased members in the
activities of the Order. A resolution passed at the 95th annual meeting of
the Supreme Council in August 1977 calls for the establishment of a
committee in every unit of the Order which shall be responsible for keeping
contact with widows and dependent children of deceased members. These
children will remain eligible for all educational benefits, such as student
loans and all the society's fellowships and trusts.
Upon receipt of notice that a member has died, the Supreme Knight sends a
letter of condolence to the widow or next of kin, informing them first of all
that their loved one has been enrolled in a Mass offered at St. Mary's
Church, birthplace of the Order, one every day throughout the year. Upon
request, the widow´s name is added to the list for COLUMBIA magazine.
State and local councils are encouraged to do the same for their
publications. They are also called on to extend to widows and their families
any scholarship or loan programs they may conduct.
A renewed emphasis on family life seeks to involve the member's wife and
children in his commitment to the life of Catholic knighthood. Their support
for his promise to be a staunch Catholic layman is essential if it is to be
effective and long-lasting. The Order's Service Program has been revised to
permit more participation by the wives and children of members and also to
enable greater identification on their part with the Order. The wives now can
wear the Order's emblem in the form of jewelry and children can wear it in
A family life director has been added to the "Surge with Service" program.
His responsibility is to assure that a number of activities and projects is
directed specifically to the family and that families are encouraged to take
part in them.
A major sign of the Order's active concern for the future of the Church and
the spread of the Gospel is the establishment of the Supreme Council
Vocations Program, now operating in all jurisdictions and already showing
promise of success in helping turn around the decline in the number of
candidates to the priestly and religious life.
The Knights of Columbus have a long and enviable tradition of aid to
Catholic education. As early as 1904 the Order endowed a chair in
American history at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
and later provided an endowment of $500,000 for graduate fellowships
there which still reaps benefits today. The million-dollar „Father Michael J.
McGivney Memorial Fund for New Initiatives in Catholic Education“
established in 1980 is devoted to fostering improvements through research
"Don't keep the Faith-spread it!" long has been a guiding principle of the
Knights of Columbus. Almost $1 million is budgeted annually by the Order
for various projects of the Catholic Advertising Program.
The Knights of Columbus funded the construction of the campanile or
Knights' Tower at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate
Conception in Washington, D.C. The bells for the tower were donated by
the Order as well. In keeping with the commitment to Our Lady's Shrine, the
Order established the "Luke E. Hart Memorial Fund" in 1979 in the amount
of $500,000. Earnings are used to promote Marian devotion and to
preserve the beauty of the basilica in perpetuity.
And it was the leadership of the Knights which finally succeeded in having
the words "under God" inserted in the Pledge of Allegiance to the American
Founded by Father Michael J. McGivney, curate at St.
Mary's parish in New Haven, Connecticut, the Knights of
Columbus was chartered on March 29, 1882, in the
State of Connecticut.