The Knights of Columbus insurance story begins in the winter of 1882 in the basement of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn.
It was there that our Venerable founder, Father Michael J. McGivney, gathered the men of his parish together to create a solution to a recurring problem.
Many Catholics — most of whom were immigrants — were working and living in unfavorable conditions. And many, tragically, were dying young, leaving behind widows and orphans with insufficient financial resources.
It was a cold reality that had confronted Father McGivney all too often — not only in the lives of his parishioners — but in his own. As a seminarian, he was forced to leave school and return home to aid his family when his father died unexpectedly.
Though this story of financial ruin for Catholic families was common, Father McGivney was convinced that there was a way to change the ending. He knew that if the Catholic men in his parish came together in mutual aid, widows and orphans could receive the support they needed.
He also knew that if Catholic men banded together, united by charity and unity, they could strengthen their faith, their families, and their communities.
So, he established the Knights of Columbus, and with it, a “pass-the-hat” insurance system to protect the Catholic families in his parish. Over time, that system has evolved, and today we stay true to our founding mission through our multi-billion dollar, top-rated insurance program. Members in the United States and Canada have exclusive access to our insurance program and products, including life insurance, retirement annuities, long-term care insurance, and disability income insurance.
Our charitable giving and fraternal service have continued to grow too. Nearly 2 million men in over a dozen countries across the globe are proud to call themselves Knights. Last year alone, these men and their families donated more than $185 million to charity and performed more than 75 million hours of service.
The Knights of Columbus is committed to being a Catholic company that upholds Catholic values and supports Catholic causes.
The Knights of Columbus adheres to a strict investment screening protocol developed in part with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Knights of Columbus does not invest in companies that deal in lines of business that involve: abortions and abortifacients, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, contraception, for-profit health care that pays for any of the aforementioned, and pornography.
The Knights also gives generously to the Church through various programs such as the Refund Support Vocations Program (RSVP). Since 1981, RSVP has provided more than $67 million in scholarships to more than 110,000 men and women pursuing religious vocations. The Knights supports the Vatican and the Holy Father as well, helping to restore the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica which was completed in 1999 for the millennial Jubilee. The Knights also purchased satellite equipment to help broadcast the pope’s messages and Masses throughout the world, in addition to giving an annual donation to Pope Francis’ personal charity with proceeds from the K of C’s Vicarius Christi fund.
The Knights of Columbus is one of the world’s largest forces for good. In the past decade alone, the Knights of Columbus has donated more than $1.55 billion to charitable causes, and has performed more than 700 million hours of volunteer service.
Knights have led major charitable initiatives including Coats for Kids, the Ultrasound Initiative, and Christians at Risk, and have also sponsored events and programs with organizations such as Special Olympics and the Global Wheelchair Mission.
The Knights of Columbus insurance program – coupled with the hard work and dedication of brother Knights anywhere – helps power the Knights of Columbus’ charitable giving.
“The insurance program is a powerful financial engine that supports much of the good works we do,” said Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “Through the insurance program, we are blessed with the opportunity to give generously and support numerous charitable and spiritual causes, building up society and the Church.”