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definition - Knights_of_Saint_Columba

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Knights of Saint Columba

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Knights of Saint Columba
MottoCharity, Unity and Fraternity
Formation5 October 1919
TypeCatholic fraternal service
Headquarters75 Hillington Road South, Glasgow, G52 2AE
Supreme KnightJonjo McDonagh
Key peopleThe Incorporators

The Knights of Saint Columba is a Catholic fraternal service organisation and the largest of its kind in the United Kingdom.[1] Founded in Glasgow in 1919,[2] it is named in honour of Saint Columba, a Christian missionary from Ireland who helped to introduce Christianity to some of the people in the north. The organisation describes itself as being dedicated to the principles of Charity, Unity and Fraternity.[3] There are more than 8,000 members of the KSC, in over 340 councils across Great Britain—it features in England, Scotland and Wales. Membership is limited to practicing Catholic men aged 16 or older, as understood by the doctrine of the Catholic Church.[1]

The organisation, which is non-political and essentially democratic, exists to support the mission of the Catholic Church and at the same time to work for the "spiritual and material good of its members and their families". They are a member of the International Alliance of Catholic Knights. Founder of the Knights and first Supreme Knight was P J O'Callaghan. Following the social teachings of the Catholic Church, members of the Order work for the moral and social welfare of their country and in particular to help the development of young people. Members strive to achieve all these aims through Charity, Unity and Fraternity.

The K.S.C. is not a secret society;[4]. Admission ceremonies usually take place in a Catholic Church during a public Mass.



The Incorporators, founders of the Knights of Saint Columba.

The Knights of Saint Columba was founded by an Irish migrant from Cork, Patrick Joseph O'Callaghan in Glasgow, Scotland. He gathered a meeting of twenty-four Catholic gentlemen on 5 October 1919, at Central Halls, Bath Street, Glasgow, where the men present agreed to found a fraternal organisation.[5] The founders, known as the Incorporators, looked to model the organisation on the Knights of Columbus, which had existed since 1882 in the United States after being founded by priest Michael J. McGivney. A similar organisation had also been founded in Ireland a few years earlier, known as the Knights of Saint Columbanus, while in Britain there were female specific organisations such as the Catholic Women's League.

The primary motivation for the Order was to be a mutual benefit society based on the principles of Charity, Unity and Fraternity.[3] The knights sought the social, economic and spiritual welfare of the members, together with the defence of Catholic principles and interests.[6][7] It had only been in 1829 that the Catholic Emancipation had been completed in Britain, there were still some stigmas and socio-economic barriers, especially for Irish and to some extent Highland Catholic migrants to the Presbytarian Lowlands. In the late 19th century, Catholics were regularly excluded from trade unions and other organisations that provided social services. In addition, Catholics were either barred from many of the popular fraternal organisations, or, as in the case of Freemasonry, forbidden from joining by the Catholic Church itself. The society was influenced by the social teachings put forward by Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Rerum Novarum.

Saint Columba is the patron and namesake of the Knights.

The first initiation of members began on 11 November 1919, while the following year a concert was held on Saint Patrick's Day which strongly boosted the membership numbers of the organisation into the hundreds.[8]The Order is set at three levels: Councils are local groups which are arranged into larger groups called Provinces. The highest level is a Board of Directors led by the Supreme Knight. There is a Head Office located in Glasgow, Scotland, where the Order was founded The highest constitutional meeting of the Knights of Saint Columba is the annual conference or Supreme Council and is the body that decides national policy. The Supreme Knight is elected annually and can serve for a maximum of three years. Councils and Provinces are chaired by Grand Knights and Provincial Grand Knights respectively and these, too, are in office for a maximum of three years or an additional one year if approval is given by the Supreme Knight.The Order is noted for its charitable work and has raised money for projects such as assisting health in the developing world, earthquake relief as well as projects in Britain.


Additional KSC emblem

At local level, members belong to a Charter Council, lead by the Grand Knight.The Charter Councils in an area (often corresponding to a Catholic Diocese) come together to form a Province, under the Provincial Grand Knight. Representatives of the Provinces meet at least annually at the Supreme Council which governs the Order. The Supreme Knight presides over the Supreme Council.

Chronology of Supreme Knights

11919—1922Patrick Joseph O'Callaghan151970—1972Michael May
21922—1929Edward Henry161972—1975Martin Cairns
31929—1933William Bishop KCSG171975—1978Christopher Seneviratne
41933—1936Thomas Davis181978—1981Anthony Rouse KC*SG KHS
51936—1945William Loughrey191981—1984P Layden
61945—1948Thomas Leyland201984—1987Walter Downey
71948—1951Laurie Arnold211987—1990Francis Redmond KCSG
81951—1952Daniel Kelly221990—1993Anthony Bateman
91952—1955Thomas McMenemy231993—1996Anthony Britten
101955—1958James Mitton MBE241996—1999Kenneth Hargreaves
111958—1961Francis Mildner251999—2002Anthony Britten
121961—1964Stuart Harper262002—2005Anthony Doherty
131964—1967William Austin272005—2008John Doran
141967—1970Philip Scott282008—Jonjo McDonagh




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