On Oct. 2, 1881, Father Michael J. McGivney, a 29-year-old assistant pastor of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn., gathered a group of men at his parish. He proposed establishing a lay organization with the goal of uniting men of Catholic faith to provide for the families of deceased members.
Thanks to the efforts of Father McGivney and some of his parishioners, the Connecticut state legislature officially chartered the Knights of Columbus as a fraternal benefit society on March 29, 1882. This date is honored annually as Founders Day. The Order is still true to its founding principles of charity, unity, and fraternity.
As a symbol that allegiance to their country did not conflict with allegiance to their faith, the organization’s members took as their patron, Christopher Columbus – recognized as a Catholic and celebrated discoverer of the New World.