Our Story - Our History
Venerable founder, Father Michael J. McGivney
Founded by a priest to protect Catholic familiesVenerable founder, Reverand Father Michael J. McGivney
The Knights of Columbus insurance story begins in the winter of 1882 in the basement of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut. 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.
The Life and Legacy of Father McGivney
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 $177 million to charity and performed more than 75 million hours of service.
Pope Benedict XVI has approved a decree recognizing the heroic virtue of Father McGivney. When an individual becomes a candidate for sainthood, there is an opportunity to call upon him or her for help. Favors received through Father McGivney's intercession are signs of God's love manifested through the holiness of his life.