Charity is the foremost principle of the Knights of Columbus. In the 2005 fraternal year the Order gave $136 million directly to charity and performed over 63.2 million man hours in voluntary service. Endowed funds of over $54 million support a number of Church related causes. A Knight's highest duty is to assist the widow or orphan of a fallen brother Knight.

 

The Knights have a tradition of supporting those with physical and developmental disabilities. More than $382 million has been given over the past three decades to groups and programs that support the intellectually and physically disabled. One of the largest recipients of funds in this area is the Special Olympics.[26] In addition, the Order's highest honor, the Gaudium et Spes Award, was given with its $100,000 honorarium to Jean Vanier, the founder of l'Arche, in 2005. L'Arche is a faith-based network that provides care, in a community setting, for people with severe developmental disabilities.

 

The Vicarius Christi Fund has a corpus of $20 million and has earned more than $35 million, since its establishment in 1981, for the Pope's personal charities. The multimillion dollar Pacem in Terris Fund aids the Catholic Church's efforts for peace in the Middle East. The Order also has eleven separate funds totaling $18 million to assist men and women who are discerning religious vocations pay tuition and other expenses.

 

Days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 the Order established the $1 million Heroes Fund. Immediate assistance was given to the families of all full-time professional law enforcement personnel, firefighters and emergency medical workers who lost their lives in the rescue and recovery efforts. Orderwide, more than $10 million has been raised for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. On May 6, 2006, $3 million was disbursed to the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the dioceses of Lafayette, LA, Houma-Thibodaux, LA, Lake Charles, LA, Biloxi, MS and Beaumont, TX. The Order also donated more than $500,000 to the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 relief efforts and $50,000 to help victims of Typhoon Durian in the Philippines.

At the 2006 American Cardinals Dinner, it was announced that the Knights would be giving a gift of $8 million to The Catholic University of America. The gift is to renovate Kean Hall, an unused building, and rename it McGivney Hall, after Fr. McGivney. The new McGivney Hall will house the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, a graduate school of theology affiliated with the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome as well as CUA. Supreme Knight Anderson serves on CUA's board of trustees and is the vice president of the John Paul II Institute. The Knights have a long history of donating to CUA.

 

The Knights' Satellite Uplink Program has provided funding to broadcast a number of papal events including the annual Easter and Christmas Masses, as well as the World Day of Peace in Assisi, the Peace Summit in Assisi, World Youth Days, the opening of the Holy Door at St. Peter's Basilica's for the Millennial Jubilee, Pope John Paul II's visit to Nazareth and several other events. In missionary territories the Order also pays for the satellite downlink.

 

United in Charity, a general, unrestricted endowment fund, was introduced at the 2004 Supreme Council meeting to support and ensure the overall long-term charitable and philanthropic goals of the Order. The fund is wholly managed, maintained and operated by Knights of Columbus Charities, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Before United in Charity was formed all requests for funds were met with the general funds of the Order or in combination with specific appeals. Requests from the Church and organizations closely aligned with the mission of the Order often far exceeded the amount available and it is hoped that eventually United in Charity's earnings will be sufficient to completely fund the Order's charitable priorities.

 

Ever since its founding the Knights of Columbus has been involved in evangelization. In 1948, the Knights started the Catholic Information Service (CIS) to provide low-cost Catholic publications for the general public as well as for parishes, schools, retreat houses, military installations, correctional facilities, legislatures, the medical community, and for individuals who request them. Since then, CIS has printed millions of booklets, and thousands of people have enrolled in CIS correspondence and on-line courses.

 

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