The Knights of Columbus–Council 1792 is preparing to celebrate its 100th anniversary in San Benito County. Operating as a nonprofit group, it is one of the oldest fraternal organizations in the community.
In 1915, 33 years after the 1882 birth of the Knights of Columbus in New Haven, Conn., a group of Catholic men in San Benito County, led by “Grand Knight” J.M. O’Donnell, banded together in Hollister and founded a local Council of the Knights. Other leaders and members of this group, totaling 47 altogether, included Lawrence Denny, C.F. McCullough, John E. Prendergast, William Murphy, George Grunnagle, and James J. Hudner.
In 1882, the Knights took the name of Christopher Columbus purposefully and set out to explore new ways of living as Catholics in a newly industrialized land of recent immigrants. The Knights wanted to render financial aid to members and their families, especially during sickness, disability, or unemployment. They became a social, charitable, educational, religious, and patriotic group which now numbers 1.8 million members worldwide
Their strong base provides family stability through extensive life insurance, annuity, and long term care programs, and their insurance program has had unprecedented success. In the past decade the Knights paid more than $3.4 billion in dividends to insured members. In 2012 over $487 million in death claims and other benefits were paid. For 37 consecutive years, the AM Best Company evaluator has given the insurance program of the Knights of Columbus its ultimate rating of “A++, Superior.”
The Knights are the foremost Catholic men’s group, and over the years, Council 1792 (along with 14,000 other councils) have contributed to the funding of many domestic and international activities sponsored by the National Knights, as well as providing countless hours of community service each year to a myriad of civic and charitable projects.
In 1951, the Knights initiated a campaign to have the phrase “under God” to be included in the Pledge of Allegiance. On Flag Day, June 14, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill that eventually became law. In 1981, the Knights’ Vicarius Chrisit Fund was established with $10 million, and increased to $20 million by 1988, with the annual income used for the Pope’s international charities. In 1985, the Order underwrote the restoration of the 65,000 square foot façade of St. Peter’s Basilica, the first time it had been cleaned in more than 350 years. This was followed by payment for several art restorations and chapel improvements in subsequent years at St. Peter’s.
In celebration of their 100th anniversary, The Knights of San Benito County are inviting everyone to join them for a barbeque dinner and dance (steak or chicken) on Saturday, July 18 beginning at 5:30 p.m. at O’Reilly Hall, 670 College Street in Hollister. The evening will feature raffles, a no host bar, and dancing to the live music of “Shiloh”. Tickets for $35 may be purchased at Radio Shack in Hollister or the Sacred Heart Parish Office, 670 College St., or by calling Mark at 831-902-9218 or David at 831-537-8305.