The Supreme Council
Knights of Columbus
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We Won't Go Away
America, we won't go away. Many people wish we would, and heaven knows we would rather be doing almost anything else. But we can't go away, and we won't.
BY the Editors January 21-27, 2007 Issue Posted 1/17/07 at 8:00 AM
I'm sure you've seen us. We may have made you angry, or sad, or we may have made you turn quickly away and find something else to look at.
You may have seen us two days before Christmas outside the Planned Parenthood building. The old man with the rosary, the college kids in sweats, the sad-looking woman clutching brochures and an "I Regret My Abortion" sign — that was us.
Maybe you felt offended that we stuck abortion in your face as you rushed out to do last-minute shopping, cheered by Christmas songs on the radio. Well, we felt offended that the "clinic" was open that day. We wanted to enjoy ourselves, too.
Or maybe you heard one of us at a town meeting you attended at the school or the senior center. Maybe it was a savvy young woman lawyer that you heard voice the pro-life argument. Or maybe the voice of the pro-life movement you heard was a halting, nervous voice that got a little too angry or whose words got a little too tangled. In either case, that was us, too.
We may have made you uncomfortable that day. We're sorry for that. But we'll be there again at the next town meeting, too. And the next. And the next.
We won't go away, and we won't stop talking about abortion. We won't stop saying, again and again, that this is wrong, and it has to stop.
America, you know more about the unborn than you ever have before. Life magazine used to sell out when they put an unborn baby on the cover. Now, we've seen National Geographic's "In the Womb." We have sonogram photos at the front of our baby books and we saw our children for the first time in utero, through a video monitor.
America, you know more than ever that abortion hurts women. Those of us who have had an abortion know the guilt at what we've done and the anger at those who made it seem inevitable, who refused all help except the kind that kills. Those of us who have a friend who has had an abortion know it is a topic that we must never, ever discuss. It causes too much sadness, inflicts too much pain that can't be relieved.
America, you know what abortion is, and we know you know. We won't stand by and pretend with you that nothing is happening.
And we won't go away, because we can't make abortion go away from our own
consciences. Abortion stings us. The sting is there when we see an empty
playground and remember that 1 in 3 children in America dies by abortion. The
sting is there when we read of successful surgery saving unborn children in the
womb, and remember that babies don't survive the most common surgery in the
Is abortion necessary for women's rights? Ask the teens impregnated by older men and brought to the "clinic" by them, too. Is it a matter of choice? Ask the women who wanted to have their babies but were badgered and pressured and tricked and even forced to kill instead.
But doesn't abortion help women? Ask the ones who died on the operating table, — or the ones who say they wish they died because the depression is too much to bear.
What would America be like without abortion? We can't even imagine. In It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey gets a glimpse of what Bedford Falls would be like if he hadn't been born, but then he returns to a world where that tragedy never happened.
We won't get to return to the world we could have had.
Did we abort a statesman who would have changed the course of this country? Did we abort the musician who would have taken that art — and our emotions with it — to new heights? What cures, stories, jokes, athletic feats or technological innovations did we abort? What great actor is missing from our movies, what great teachers will never inspire our kids at school?
No, America, we won't go away, no matter how much you want us to or how much we want to go.
We want to think we would have told the slave-sellers, "No way. Not here. I will use every legal means to stop you." We like to think we wouldn't have sat still in World War II Germany as the trains rumbled by. We wish we could have sat with Rosa Parks or prayed with Ruby Bridges on the way to school.
But we can't do any of that. What we can do is remind you, America, in season and out of season, of the words you were founded on: "All men are endowed by their Creator with the right to life."
So you'll see us shivering in the cold again this January for the March for Life. And you'll see us next January, and the January after that, and the January after that, until we wear you down at last and there's no more reason to march.
And if we die before you change, America, we'll be able to stand before God and say, "I defended the defenseless. I stood for the weak. My brothers and sisters couldn't cry 'Stop,' so I cried it for them. And I refused to go away."
In service to one. In service to all.
ABOUT THE KNIGHTS
The Knights of Columbus is the largest Catholic family fraternal service organization, with more then 1.7 million members in more then 12,000 councils throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Guatemala, Guam and Saipan. The Knights has more then $55 billion of insurance in force on its members. Annually members at all levels of the organization report raising and contributing to charities of their choosing more then $135 million and volunteering more then 63 million hours of service.
Father Michael J. McGivney, a 29-year-old assistant pastor at St. Mary's Church in New Haven Conn., founded the Knights of Columbus there in 1882. The name "Knights of Columbus" was chosen by the founding members to signify that, like knights of old, the group embodied the spirituality and service to the Catholic Church, their country and those in need. The name was also chosen to emphasize that Catholics had been involved in the discovery, exploration and evangelization of the Americas. Father McGivney's cause for sainthood is under investigation by the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Should he be canonized, he would be the first U.S. born parish priest so honored.
The principles of the Knights of Columbus are Charity, Unity, Fraternity and Patriotism. These remain the foundation on which the organization continues to grow. Support for the Catholic Church is a hallmark of Knights of Columbus activities at all levels of the organization.
Financial and Fraternal Highlights
For the three years ending December 31, 2005 2004 2003 2002
LIFE DIVIDENDS $320 $329 $302
ASSETS $11,735 $10,947 $9,958
SURPLUS $1,529 $1,427 $1,326
NEW LIFE INSURANCE ISSUED $6,221 $5,221 $4,484
LIFE INSURANCE IN FORCE $53,356 $49,112 $45,636
TOTAL REVENUE $1,522 $1,461 $1,389
(EXCLUDES ANNUITY DEPOSITS)
For the three years ending June 2005* (actual) 2004 2003 2002
NUMBER OF COUNCILS 12,767 12,480 12,274
MEMBERSHIP 1,703,307 1,680,472 1,660,197
INSURANCE CERTIFICATES IN FORCE 1,571,643 1,541,004 1,515,280
CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTIONS $135,753,039 $130,086,909 $128,554,307
HOURS OF SERVICE 63,159,359 61,821,480 60,821,480
KNIGHTS OF CHARITY
When Pope Benedict XVI delivered his inaugural homily at his installation Mass - an event telecast worldwide thanks to our satellite uplink program - he said, "The Church is alive!" The Church is alive because Jesus lives, and it is this reality that animates the work of the Knights of Columbus.
We demonstrate this central belief of our faith chiefly through our volunteer charitable service programs. It is in our works of charity in our parishes, our communities and around the world that we make present to those we help the living presence of Christ.
Charity is the animating foundation of our mission as Knights. When we become Knights, we pledge to be at the service of the dignity and destiny of our neighbor. The Second Vatican Council explains it this way: "The best way to fulfill one's obligations of justice and love is to contribute to the common good according t one's means and the needs of society" (Gaudium et Spes, 30). The care and concern we Knights show for those in need is, increasingly, a hallmark of our Order. Year after year, our works of charity increase and our financial contributions grow, leaving us no doubt that "He Is With Us."
This past year was the Order's greatest, according to our annual Survey of Fraternal Activity. In 2004, the Knights of Columbus set new records for chartable giving and volunteer hours. Total contributions to charity at all levels climbed to $135,735,348, exceeding 2003's total by more then $5 million.
This figure includes $26.3 million in contributions by the Supreme Council; $11,611,596 by state councils; and $97,753,348 in donations from local councils, assemblies and Squires circles.
In 2004 we also volunteered a record 63,159,359 hours of service. This is up from 61 million hours in 2003.
These totals are based on responses from 75 percent of all our units. Currently we are giving a less complete picture of who we are as Knights and what we accomplish for the good of society. It is our goal to have 100 percent reporting in the 2005 fraternal survey.
This goal is important for several reasons. Most critical now is a staff recommendation before the U.S. Congress to repeal the tax-exempt status of fraternal organizations like the Knights of Columbus. Needless to say, this would have a serious negative impact on us and on the charitable work of the Order. We have been working very hard on this issue, meeting with key senators about the value of our charitable work to our communities and the nation. I believe that the tide is turning in our favor on this, but we cannot afford to take any chances. We have already asked Brother Knights who are represented by members of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees to contact their members of Congress on this issue, and if it appears necessary, we will broaden that effort and ask every U.S. Knight to contact his senators and representatives.
Our proven record of volunteerism and outreach makes us leaders in our communities and in our nations. As leaders, we deserve to have our voice heard on this issue. The fraternal survey also captured these vital statistics about our service:
SERVICE TO THE CHURCH SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY SERVICE TO YOUTH MISCELLANEOUS
28.2 million hours 16.7 million hours 8.2 million hours 9.8 million hours
According to Independent Sector, the value of each volunteer hour in 2004 was more then $17. Our volunteer hours are worth more then $1 billion, using this measure. That is a tremendous record, and one that we should highlight.
Of the $109,364,944 total charitable disbursements by state and local units, gifts were made in the following categories:
CHURCH (in millions) COMMUNITY (in millions) YOUTH (in millions)
Church Facilities . . . $16,678,228 Elderly . . . . . . . . $ 2,126.928 Columbian Squires . $ 629,886
Catholic Schools . . . $ 9,578,274 People with physical Scouting . . . . . . . . $ 1,206,699
Religious Education . . $ 3,456,383 Disabilities . . . . . . $ 2,676,109 Youth Groups . . . $ 2,798,138
Seminarians/RSVP . . . $ 4,881,560 Special Olympics . . . . .$ 2,383,421 Youth Welfare/
Seminaries . . . . . . . . $ 1,663,306 People with intellectual Services . . . . .. . $ 1,536,865
Vocations Projects . . $ 1,839,231 Disabilities . . . . . $ 15,174,452 Athletics . . . . . . . . $ 1,871,980
Miscellaneous . . . . . . $ 5,762,116 Human Needs . . . . . . . $ 6,265,599 Scholarships/
Pro-Life Programs . . . $ 4,321,836 Education . . . . . . $ 6,032,610
TOTAL CHURCH Victims of Disaster . . . $ 2,221,171 Miscellaneous . . . . $ 3,964,153
$43,859,108 Hospitals/Institutions . . . . . $ 1,876,466 TOTAL YOUTH
Organizations ..$2,471,287 .
Projects . . . . . . $ 5,875,652
Miscellaneous . . . . . . $ 3,964,153
TOTAL COMMUNITY $39,357,074
While our Church and community outreach increased from 2003 to 2004, our youth disbursements drop slightly. This is the second year in a row that this has occurred. I am happy to announce a new youth athletic program that will show the Knights of Columbus is interested in youth.
This fall we will kick off our Knights of Columbus Soccer Challenge. Open to all boys and girls ages 10 to 14, the Knights of Columbus Soccer Challenge should broaden appeal. Customized soccer balls with our emblem on them have been made available, along with all of the reporting forms, publicity guides and award certificates councils will need to conduct this program. We know that this program will become as popular as our Free Throw Championships, which this year had nearly 200,000 youngsters participating in competitions sponsored by more then 3,000 councils. We introduced new promotion items, such as K of C regulation-size basketballs, miniature glow-in-the-dark balls, and miniature basketball and backboard sets. These items were well received and helped increase participation from youth and Knights.
In 2004, we also reported the following:
The Patriotic Degree:
Another degree open to members of the Knights of Columbus is that of the Fourth (or Patriotic) Degree. On February 22, 1900, the first exemplification of that degree was held in New York City. The ritual added patriotism to the three original principles of the Order: charity, unity and fraternity. Any Third Degree member in good standing, one year after the anniversary of his First Degree, is eligible for membership in the Fourth Degree.
The primary purpose of the Fourth Degree is to foster the spirit of patriotism by promoting responsible citizenship and a love of and loyalty to the Knights' respective countries through active membership in local Fourth Degree groups called assemblies. Fourth Degree members must retain their membership as Third Degree members in the local council to remain in good standing.
Certain members of the Fourth Degree serve as honor guards at civic and religious functions, an activity which has brought worldwide recognition to the Knights of Columbus organization.
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