The Knights of Columbus raised a record-setting $75,000 last year in steak sales, testifying to the quality of their steak and commitment to the roughly 26 different charities that benefit from their sales.
The Knights of Columbus was founded in 1882 by Fr. Michael J. McGivney – whose cause for sainthood is being investigated by the Vatican – as a fraternal benefit society. The group has a strong emphasis on charity and is an important place for Catholic men to work together as they grow in their faith and good works.
The money raised every year by the Notre Dame council dwarfs the amount raised by other councils’ individual fundraisers, but as Tim Kirchoff, Deputy Grand Knight pointed out, “even what we do in our council is a drop in the bucket compared to what the Knights do nationally. According to the Knights website, the Knights raised $158 million and gave 70 million hours of time, all for charity.”
A few beneficiaries of the steak sales include Corvilla, an organization that provides housing and services for developmentally-disabled adults, Gibault house, which works with juvenile delinquents, missions in Africa and the Andes, several pro-life groups, and multiple educational charities.
More specifically, Kirchoff shared that “in the past two years, the Notre Dame council has donated two ultrasound machines to the Women’s Care Center [in South Bend] through an initiative with the national organization.”
Colton Andrews, Grand Knight of the Notre Dame council, which is the equivalent of the president of the organization, said: “[W]orking at steak sales is probably the best part about being a Knight. Even though it can be hard work at times, it is a lot of fun and knowing how much you are helping out is extremely rewarding.”
Andrews commented on the array of activities the Knights participate in: “I like that as a Knight here at ND you can be involved on campus within a smaller community – you can help out with service projects, volunteer at the game day steak sales for charity, attend faith-related talks and liturgies, and even get together with fellow Knights for various social functions throughout the semester.”
Knights councils exist all over the country and the national character of the organization is an appeal for Knights. For instance, Kirchoff said, “I started showing up to Steak Sales and, largely because I was the freshman who had shown the most interest, was invited to attend the College Council Conference in New Haven, Connecticut, where the Knights were originally founded. Hook. Line. Sinker. I’ve been involved ever since.”
Andrews says of the national organization: “There are councils all around the country. More and more colleges are beginning to start councils. Every year, there is a College Knights Conference where we get to meet Knights in similar situations with similar problems, allowing us to help each other.”
Kirchoff reminisced, “Several Knights from the Purdue council came to campus prior to the Purdue game this year and helped at steak sales. They were accompanied by a Dominican priest who grilled steak in full habit – that’s an image I’ll not soon forget.”
The Knights of Columbus has grown from several members in one council to more than 14,000 councils and 1.8 million members throughout the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Poland, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, Guatemala, Guam and Saipan.
The Notre Dame Knights make up council 1477 and number about 250 members. This group is an organization steeped in history, present on campus since 1910 and housed in the old Post Office.
The Knights are known for being a welcoming organization, often attracting new members through word of mouth. “When I arrived at Notre Dame,” Andrews said, “some of the upperclassmen in my dorm who were already Knights encouraged me to join and get more involved.”
Nicholas Mahan, a Knight living in Keough Hall said: “I became involved after hearing about it from a friend who suggested the club because it’s a great way to serve the Notre Dame community and the charities that the Knights support as well as meet fellow ‘Catholic gentlemen.'”
The fraternal bond of these Knights does not end at graduation: “Our council alone has hundreds of active alumni members, and the Knights of Columbus count over 1.6 million men in over 15,000 councils internationally as brothers in our Order,” Andrews said.
Madeline Gillen is a junior history major living in Welsh Family Hall. She is the grateful recipient of a Knights of Columbus scholarship each semester. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.