"At a time when many fraternal organizations are finding it difficult to attract new members, our continued membership growth is a testament to our history of 125 years of faith in action," said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson on the occasion of the Knights’ 125th anniversary.
The laymen’s association marks its 125th anniversary today. Over the last 35 years, the organization has experienced uninterrupted membership growth.
During the period from 1972 to today membership has grown nearly 50 percent, from 1.15 million members in ‘72 to 1.72 million members today, with each year seeing steady increases. The Knights of Columbus is currently the world's largest lay Catholic membership organization.
"Father Michael J. McGivney founded an organization dedicated to safeguarding the faith and financial well-being of families, and our continued growth speaks volumes to the importance of those goals, which are as relevant today as they were in 1882," said Anderson in a statement.
As a fraternal benefit society, the Knights of Columbus provides its members a variety of life insurance products for the financial stability of their families. One of the most highly rated insurance companies in North America, the K of C has more than $62 billion of life insurance in force and consistently earns the industry's highest ratings for fiscal management and ethical business practices.
The Knights of Columbus has also been involved in American public life. Before and throughout World War I, the Knights ran "Army Huts" – facilities that provided recreation, snacks and comfort items to the troops near bases and near the front. The huts were a predecessor to the now-international United Service Organizations (USO).
During the 1920s, in direct opposition to the Ku Klux Klan, the Knights lobbied President Calvin Coolidge to pressure the Mexican government to stop its persecution of Catholics in Mexico. The lobbying paid off, and an accord was reached between the Church and the Mexican government.
In the 1950s, the Knights of Columbus led the effort to have the words "under God" added to the Pledge of Allegiance. The organization continues to speak out on important social issues – especially in the area of the protection of human life.
Last year, the Knights of Columbus donated more than $139 million and 64 million volunteer hours to charity.
Some of the notable Knights over the past 125 years include Joyce Kilmer, Babe Ruth, John F. Kennedy, and Jeb Bush.
.- One hundred and twenty-five years after its founding, the Knights of Columbus remains a viable Catholic organization, registering continuous growth over the last three decades.