We are more than hats and swords

With over 250 members on campus, the Knights of Columbus helps men serve their communities, grow as Catholic gentlemen, and practice the pillars of charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism. In particular, at Notre Dame, we are a brotherhood of Catholic college men who seek to live the Gospel message through our works of service, through helping men grow in their faith, and in aiding the broader Catholic community on campus.

As an Order, the Knights of Columbus was founded in 1882 by the Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Connecticut. Fr. McGivney lived at a time when Catholic Americans struggled through rampant anti-Catholicism, worked largely in dangerous industrial or mining jobs, and were mostly recent immigrants to the United States. He envisioned the Knights as a way for Catholic men to care for the widows and orphans of their communities. This vision developed into the Order’s major life insurance program, which currently has over $100 billion in policies in force. 

Even more, Fr. McGivney saw the Knights as a way for men to grow in community, in order to better love their God and their neighbor. The Order grew rapidly during the late 19th century. It garnered great public acclaim for its role in providing services such as food, letter-writing materials, and events to U.S. soldiers during the First World War. These centers, which operated under the slogan “everybody welcome, everything free,” helped provide a sense of hospitality and home for soldiers serving far away on the frontline in France.

Today, the Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization, with over two million members worldwide. The Knights were described as the “strong right arm of the Church” by Pope St. John Paul II. The Order is a major charitable organization, involved in numerous causes such as the Special Olympics, Coats for Kids, providing ultrasounds to pro-life pregnancy centers, and relief of persecuted Christians in Iraq. In 2018, the Knights made over $185 million in charitable contributions, donated over 75.6 million volunteer hours, and gave its 1,000th ultrasound to life saving pregnancy centers. 

The Knights at Notre Dame are proud to be part of this worldwide cause. Founded in 1910, Notre Dame Council #1477 is the oldest and largest college council in the world. We are blessed to be the only club at Notre Dame with its own building, located at the corner of God Quad and South Quad by CoMo. (Please feel free to come by and visit sometime!)

Many good and honorable men have served our council. Our founding treasurer would go on to become Cardinal John Francis O’Hara, serving as president of Notre Dame during the Great Depression, as a bishop for the U.S. Armed Forces during World War Two, and as Archbishop of Philadelphia. Other notable members of our council have included two of Notre Dame’s famed “Four Horsemen.” For example, Lt. Jack Chevigny, our Grand Knight from 1929-1930, was the legendary running back that scored the game-tying touchdown against Navy in the 1928 “win one for the Gipper” game in Yankee Stadium.

In 1968, perhaps the greatest tradition of our council was started. That year, we began our famous “Steak Sales” in which we sell steak sandwiches in front of our building before every home football game. All proceeds from Steak Sales go to charity, over $1.5 million since its inception. 

Today, our council continues to be devoted to its primary pillar of charity. In 2017, our council donated a record $100,000 from Steak Sales and (with one less home game) $68,000 in 2018. Through the generous dedication of our Knights who offer hundreds of hours of gameday time, we are able to annually donate a brand new 4D ultrasound to the Women’s Care Center of South Bend and make major financial contributions to a variety of other charities. It is truly a remarkable way to make a difference as a college student. 

We seek to not only provide financial assistance to our partner charities, but also the direct service of our Knights. Each semester, we organize five weekly service projects in which Knights volunteer at various charities in the community, giving their time, effort, and skill. This semester, we will have Knights tutor at the Center for the Homeless, lead programs at St. Adalbert’s Catholic School, serve Thanksgiving dinner to the residents of Corvila Home for adults with disabilities, assist the staff of Green Bridge Growers in serving those with autism, and provide babysitting services to the Women’s Care Center. 

Council #1477 also has numerous faith and fraternal events. We help men to grow in their faith through praying rosaries and participating in the sacraments by going to Mass and Confession with our wonderful chaplain, Fr. Brian Ching, CSC, as well as praying (K)night prayer. We also seek to build a community of Catholic men at Notre Dame through fraternal events such as game nights, football game watches, and grill-outs on the quad. 

Our building is open 24/7 to our members as a place to study, pray, or just hang out. It also serves as a resource for the wider Catholic community of Notre Dame. Right to Life hosts its weekly babysitting service at our building, and we provide a venue for a variety of other clubs such as the Militia of the Immaculata. 

Please feel free to learn more about our council at ndknights.com, come by and check out our building, and of course experience one of our famous steak sandwiches before a football game. If you are a Catholic man interested in joining our brotherhood of Knights, please contact me at nholmes1@nd.edu, or our Advocate Mike Dugan at mdugan1@nd.edu. At Notre Dame, the Knights of Columbus seeks to build good men, strong communities, and a vibrant life of faith.

Nicholas Gadola Holmes is a junior studying political science and history, with a minor in Constitutional Studies. He is currently the Deputy Grand Knight of Council #1477 and is a fanatical believer that Knights of Columbus steak sandwiches are the best food known to mankind. You can contact him at nholmes1@nd.edu