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Origins and growth of the Knights

Posted on January 13, 2022 in: General News

 Origins and growth of the Knights

Charity, Unity and Fraternidad

Outreach to Hispanic Catholics and other immigrant communities reflects the origins and growth of the Knights of Columbus

By Elisha Valladares-Cormier 12/1/2021

Members of St. Anne Council 10540 in Gilbert, Ariz.
Members of St. Anne Council 10540 in Gilbert, Ariz., meet to discuss Into the Breach, the 2015 apostolic exhortation to Catholic men by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix. Photo by Nancy Wiechec

When Blessed Michael McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882, many of its first members were — like Father McGivney — the children of immigrants, or immigrants themselves. Rooted in a shared faith, the Order forged bonds of unity, charity and brotherhood, and within a matter of decades, it expanded internationally with councils in Canada, Mexico, the Philippines and beyond. Today, even as Catholic men around the world join the Knights of Columbus, a growing group within the Church shares a close similarity with those very first Knights: Hispanic Catholics in the United States.

“The Hispanic community — including the immigrant and refugee communities — is the best reflection today of the early Knights of Columbus,” explained Supreme Director Antonio BaƱuelos, a past state deputy of Iowa who immigrated to the U.S. from Chihuahua, Mexico. “I have seen how the Order has helped immigrant and refugee families integrate more fully into the Church and take more active roles in church leadership.”

As of 2016, Hispanics made up more than 40% of the Catholic Church in the United States, and an even greater proportion — more than half — of American Catholics under the age of 29. However, while the Hispanic population in the U.S. Church has grown rapidly for decades, surveys indicate the practice of the faith decreases by roughly 10% with each generation: More than 6 in 10 immigrants from Latin America identify as Catholic...

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