It was nearly 129 years ago when a young Irish priest gathered a group of men together in the basement of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut to establish an organization of Catholic men to promote the work of the Church and provide security for their wives and children. The priest was the Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney and the organization they founded that night became the Knights of Columbus.
Today the Knights number about two million men and have been described as “the strong right arm of the Church” for their promotion and defense of the Faith and their great charitable works. One the nation’s strongest insurance programs protects members’ families and supports many charitable programs.
Texas’ first Knights of Columbus Council was established in El Paso in 1902. Councils in Dallas, Fort Worth, Galveston and Houston quickly followed. Today the Diocese of Dallas has 9500 Knights in 52 councils with both members and councils increasing every year.
Knights in the Diocese sponsor numerous parish and diocesan programs. They contribute to the support of 94 seminarians and fund the diocesan Ministry to the Deaf and Disabled. Knights are in the forefront in Pro-Life activities and sponsor the annual Hike for Life. Knights of Columbus Friday night fish fries during Lent have long been traditional in many parishes.
Over the years the Knights have been active in educating the public about Catholicism and confronting the Ku Klux Klan and other organizations opposing Catholics and Catholicism. One way of doing this is by supporting efforts to show the important contribution of the Church to the growth of Texas. Among other projects Knights supported the seven-volume history of Texas Catholics, Our Catholic Heritage, by Dr. Carlos Castañeda and they continue to support the Catholic Archives of Texas in Austin.
Nationally, in 2009 the Knights donated $151,105,867 to charity and over the past decade their contributions to local, national and international Catholic causes have exceeded one-and-one-quarter billion dollars.
I commend and encourage the Knights of Columbus for their magnificent contribution to the Church in Dallas, nationally and internationally. I would like every parish in the Diocese of Dallas to have a Council and I would urge every Catholic man to become an active Knight of Columbus.