Annual Report Shows Knights Are "Strong and Vibrant"

Volunteer Hours and Charitable Giving Increased in 2009

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WASHINGTON. D.C., AUG. 18, 2010 ( The Knights of Columbus is strong and vibrant in 2010, changing lives for the better around the globe, according to an annual report from Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.

The report was released during the Knights’ annual convention, held this month in Washington D.C.. The 50-page statement considers the Knights’ growth and activities, detailing themes ranging from their life insurance programs to their pro-life work.

The men’s charitable organization welcomed 2009 as the 39th consecutive year in which membership grew. Some 74,000 joined the Knights last year bringing worldwide membership to 1.8 million, with nearly 14,000 active councils around the globe.

But Anderson encouraged tapping into more circles to promote growth. He mentioned immigrant communities in the United States and Canada, peopled by Catholics from Korea, the Philippines, China, Vietnam, and Eastern European nations such as Ukraine.

«Where there is a Catholic parish, we must strive to establish a Knights of Columbus council,» the report affirmed. «Where there are Catholics who speak a different language, we must strive to be what the Knights of Columbus has always been: a place where immigrants can find faith, friendship and help in adjusting to a new life in a new land. Always remember — as Catholics we have the most fundamental things of life in common. The faith that unites us is far greater than anything that might divide us.»

The report mentioned the growth of youth involvement in the Knights of Columbus, through the Columbian Squires program for boys, aged 10 to 18. Anderson recommended presenting the program at Catholic high schools, while reporting that growth on college campuses in 2009 was also noteworthy: 10 new councils were established at colleges in the United States last year, while five more were set up in the Philippines and one in Mexico.

«One of our highest priorities must be to keep these young men active in the Knights of Columbus when they graduate.»

Time, talent and treasure

New records were set in 2009 for Knights’ charitable activities: they donated $151,105,867 last year, an increase of more than $1 million from the year before.

Top jurisdictions for charitable giving were Quebec, Texas, Ontario, Florida and Michigan.

Donation of time was also up last year, with Knights giving more than 69 million hours to volunteer service.

The Knights’ charitable outreach is as varied as the local councils. One of the projects outlined in the report supported earthquake victims in Haiti, whereby the Knights donated some $600,000 as well as hundreds of wheelchairs.

«Today I am proud to report to you that the Order’s Board of Directors has voted to provide every child in Haiti who has lost an arm or a leg the prosthetic device they need,» Anderson added. «[…] In fact, international aid is a long-standing tradition for us.»

Success with conviction

Life insurance programs sold by the Knights of Columbus saw success despite the struggling economy.

The annual report clarified that the Knights’ success comes with selectivity in choosing investments, acknowledging that some profitable initiatives are rejected due to conviction.

He explained: «When it comes to investments, we simply take the position that there is no transaction that we have to undertake. If there’s anything about an investment decision that makes us ethically uncomfortable, we walk away from it. […] We exclude any company engaged in activity that conflicts with Catholic moral teaching: companies directly involved in abortion, contraception, human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, for-profit health care that pays for any of these, or pornography.»

Noting a pay-out last year of more than $243 million in death benefits, the report summarized: «We have kept our promise of insurance by brother Knights for brother Knights.»

Supporting the Pope

The annual report noted that Anderson and the supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut, were able to personally present Benedict XVI with a $1.6 million check for the charities of his choice.

«Since becoming supreme knight, I have had the privilege to meet each year with our Holy Father in private audience for this purpose [of presenting the check],» Anderson said. «Each time I have done so, I am convinced more than ever that what was said long ago remains true today: ‘Where Peter is, there is the Church; and where the Church is, there is eternal life.’

«This is what we believe as Catholics. This is where we stand as Knights of Columbus.»

Supporting priests

As well, the report noted that chaplains from 60 jurisdictions around the world made a pilgrimage to Rome for the conclusion of the Year for Priests.

«It provided a once in a lifetime opportunity for our state chaplains to come together as brother Knights and brother priests and to stand in solidarity with our Holy Father and thousands of other priests from around the world.»

Noting some of the activities sponsored by the Knights to promote priestly vocations and support seminarians, Anderson affirmed: «For the Knights of Columbus, every year must be a Year for Priests.»

Unity and charity

The annual report also gives an overview of the Knights’ activities to defend the lives of unborn children. It explains their ultrasound program, by which local councils and the supreme council join in funding the purchase of ultrasound machines so that women can be fully informed about their babies before contemplating an abortion.

The program has given more than $1.6 million in donations to purchase these machines, «the single largest and most important project of our Culture of Life Fund.»

The report further speaks of military and veteran affairs, the Knights’ museum, and some history of the order. Ten pages of the 50-page report detail in list form the charitable giving of 2009.

«My brother Knights,» Anderson concludes, «I report to you today that our order is strong: it is vibrant and it is changing lives for the better in thousands of different ways around the globe. […] Let us so resolve this week that together we will continue this great work of building a global culture of life and love where the pledge, ‘I am my brother’s keeper’ will be a reality for all — a civilization of brotherhood, unity and charity.»

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