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Who are the Knights?

The primary motivation for the Order was to be a mutual benefit society. As a parish priest in an immigrant community, McGivney saw what could happen to a family when the breadwinner died and wanted to provide insurance to care for the widows and orphans left behind. He himself had to temporarily leave his seminary studies to care for his family when his father died. In the late 19th century, Catholics were regularly excluded from labor unions and other organizations that provided social services.


In addition, Catholics were either barred from many of the popular fraternal organizations, or, as in the case of Freemasonry, forbidden from joining by the Catholic Church itself. McGivney wished to provide them an alternative. He also believed that Catholicism and fraternalism were not incompatible and wished to found a society that would encourage men to be proud of their American-Catholic heritage.


McGivney traveled to Boston to examine the Massachusetts Catholic Order of Foresters and to Brooklyn to learn about the recently established Catholic Benevolent League, both of which offered insurance benefits. He found the latter to be lacking the excitement he thought was needed if his organization were to compete with the secret societies of the day. He expressed an interest in establishing a New Haven Court of the Foresters, but the charter of Massachusetts Foresters prevented them from operating outside their Commonwealth. The committee of St. Mary's parishioners McGivney had assembled then decided to form a club that was entirely original.


McGivney had originally conceived of the name "Sons of Columbus" but James T. Mullen, who would become the first Supreme Knight, successfully suggested that "Knights of Columbus" would better capture the ritualistic nature of the new organization. The Order was founded 10 years before the 400th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the New World and in a time of renewed interest in him. Columbus was a hero to many American Catholics, and the naming him as patron was partly an attempt to bridge the division between the Irish-Catholic founders of the Order and Catholic immigrants of other nationalities living in Connecticut.

Today, The Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic family fraternal service organization with 1.6 million members. It provides members and their families with volunteer opportunities in service to the Catholic Church, their communities, families and young people.

The Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney

The Knights of Columbus was founded by an Irish-American Catholic priest, The Blessed  Father Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Connecticut. He gathered a group of men  from St. Mary's parish for an organizational meeting on October 2, 1881 and the Order  was incorporated under the laws of the U.S. state of Connecticut on March 29, 1882. Though  the first councils were all in that state, the Order spread throughout New England and the United States in subsequent years.

The Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus

About our Council

The charter for Council 109 was established on December 10th 1894. From it’s humble homes and small beginnings, from the top floors of Mass. Avenue to the side alleys of Mystic Street, our Council has come into the forefront of Knighthood in the State of Massachusetts. We have every right to be proud of the Arlington Council for it has never failed in its quest for continuous improvement. Charity, Unity, Fraternity, and Patriotism have always been and continue to be served with enthusiasm in Arlington Council 109.

Through the ceaseless efforts of the membership, the Council is active for the good of the community throughout each year. Council #109 provides food for Thanksgiving dinners for scores of needy families each year as well as providing support and assistance to Special Needs citizens of the community. The Council has many events including dinner dances for the members and their guests, a Christmas Party for members’ children and participate in Arlington’s annual Patriot’s Day parade as well as Arlington’s annual Town Day celebration.

These are just a few of the many events our members participate in. With the addition of new members, we can make these events better and also add more activities.

Membership Benefits

As a member of the Knights of Columbus you and your family enjoy many benefits, including 12 free issues annually of the Columbia magazine, the world’s largest Catholic family magazine, eligibility to join the Knights of Columbus top-ranked life insurance program, and many more family and personal benefits.

4th Degree

Any Third Degree member in good standing, one year after the anniversary of his First Degree, is eligible for membership in the Fourth Degree. The primary purpose of the Fourth Degree is to foster the spirit of patriotism by promoting responsible citizenship and a love of and loyalty to the Knights’ respective countries through active membership in local Fourth Degree groups (called “assemblies”). Certain members of the Fourth Degree serve as honor guards at civic and religious functions, an activity that has brought worldwide recognition to the Knights of Columbus.

How to Join

Membership in the Knights of Columbus is open to practicing Catholic men in union with the Holy See, who are at least 18 years old. A practicing Catholic is one who lives up to the Commandments of God and the precepts of the Church. Application blanks are available from any member of the Knights of Columbus. If you would like more information about joining council 109 please speak with any current member or fill out the “Join Us” page.

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