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April 1, 2009 > Knights of Columbus celebrate 25th anniversary

Knights of Columbus celebrate 25th anniversary

By Simon Wong

The Knights of Columbus St. Anne Council 8627 was chartered on March 29, 1984. In honor of this 25th anniversary - and the members who have served on Union City committees and commissions and supported many church and community projects - the
City Council proclaimed March 2009 as Knights of Columbus Month.

Grand Knight Manuel Obien, Financial Secretary Fernando Cabiles, and Senior Commissioner and Past Grand Knight Hugh McNamara accepted the Proclamation.

The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholic fraternal and family organization. It was founded by Irish-American Father Michael J. McGivney and members of St. Mary's Church in New Haven, Conn., in 1882. Dedicated to the principles of Charity, Unity, Fraternalism and Patriotism, the Order was a mutual benefit society providing insurance for widows and orphans.

At the time, families often became destitute if they lost the breadwinner. Moreover, Catholics suffered discrimination in the late 19th century, with regular denial of labor union membership and other social services organizations. They were also unable to join other popular fraternal organizations, and sometimes the Catholic Church forbade them.

Believing that Catholicism and fraternalism are compatible, McGivney's solution was to establish a society to encourage men to be proud of their heritage and show the patriotism and loyalty of American-Catholics.

Naming Columbus, a hero of many American-Catholics, as patron and namesake was designed to close the divide between the organization's Irish-Catholic founders and Catholic immigrants of other nationalities in Connecticut. The Order flourished and, by 1884, groups from other states sought information.

A knight's widow received a $1,000 death benefit under the original insurance system. Sick Benefit Deposit was available - a knight could draw up to $5 a week for 13 weeks, after which his local Council, or chapter, decided how much to pay.

Today, the Order is a modern, professional, non-profit insurance operation with permanent and term-life insurance, annuities, long-term care insurance, and more than $60 billion in life insurance policies.

Worldwide, there are more than 1.7 million members in 14,000 Councils in several countries. "Protecting families for generations" is their motto.

Annually, knights make five million visits to the sick and bereaved and volunteer more than 68 million hours of service. In the past decade, they donated more than $1.1 billion to charities. They are often referred to as the "strong right arm of the Church" for their philanthropy and support of the Catholic Church and local communities.

Knights of Columbus supports Special Olympics, The Wheelchair Foundation, blood drives, veterans and those with developmental disabilities. Beside community programs, the Order has family and youth programs focusing on education, sports, drug awareness and guidance for young Catholics through the Catholic Youth Organization.

There are Knights of Columbus Councils in Fremont, Hayward, Union City and Milpitas. For more information, visit www.kofc.org

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