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Who are the Knights?

Thanks to the efforts of Father Michael J. McGivney, assistant pastor of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven and some of his parishioners, the Connecticut state legislature on March 29, 1882, officially chartered the Knights of Columbus as a fraternal benefit society.


The Order is still true to its founding principles of charity, unity and fraternity. The Knights of Columbus was formed to render financial aid to members and their families. Mutual aid and assistance are offered to sick, disabled and needy members and their families. Social and intellectual fellowship is promoted among members and their families through educational, charitable, religious, social welfare, war relief and public relief works.


The history of the Order shows how the foresight of Father Michael J. McGivney, whose cause for sainthood is being investigated by the Vatican, brought about what has become the world's foremost Catholic fraternal benefit society. The Order has helped families obtain economic security and stability through its life insurance, annuity and long-term care programs, and has contributed time and energy worldwide to service in communities.


The Knights of Columbus has grown from several members in one council to more than 14,000 councils and 1.8 million members throughout the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Poland, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, Guatemala, Guam and Saipan.

Mater Dei Council

Constructed in 1874, the Hugh McGowan mansion was purchased by the Knights of Columbus in 1919 from Mrs. Hugh McGowan.The Knights established the McGowan mansion as their clubhouse and new home to their ever expanding council, which boasted a membership of well over 1,000 at the time. In 1920, plans were made to expand onto the mansion. The expansion, which came to be known as McGowan Hall, included an auditorium that featured seating for 1,000 in addition to locker rooms, cloak rooms, lounges and cigar parlors. At the time of the expansion’s completion, the council stood at 2,000 members and the Knights of Columbus’ reputation for its high-society, social membership and charitable contributions was prevalent throughout the Indianapolis community. While the mansion no longer stands today, McGowan Hall constructed in 1922 remains, where many spectacular charitable events continue to be held.​

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