Francis and Roberta Kelly stand in front of the statue of Father Michael J. McGivney Thursday morning during a ceremony marking the 130th anniversary of the Knights of Columbus. McGivney was born in Waterbury on August 12th, 1852, to Irish immigrants. He went on to become a Roman Catholic priest and founded the Knights of Columbus on March 29th, 1882. He died of pneumonia at the age of 38. Francis Kelley is related to McGivney through his mother’s side of the family. Her maiden name was McGivney. Photographs By John Murray

Father McGivney started the Knights of Columbus while working at a church in New Haven, Connecticut. The Roman Catholic fraternal organization has 1.8 million members around the world, and 15,000 councils. After celebrating a special mass at the Immaculate Conception Church,  members of the Sheriden Council 24 Knights of Columbus marched to City hall for a ceremonial flag raising service.

The mission of the Knights Of Columbus is charity. In 2011 the Knights of Columbus raised $154 million worldwide for charitable needs and projects. Pope Benedict XVI has called this “the practice of love as a community.”

Sixty percent of the contributions made by the Knights Of Columbus is for community level projects, but they gave $1 million to Project Medishare to help Haitian children after the devastating earthquake in January 2010.

McGivney had to temporarily leave his studies for the priesthood to care for his mother and siblings after his father died prematurely. Experiencing firsthand the difficulty of losing the family’s breadwinner, McGivney incorporated the concept of insurance into the Knights of Columbus to care for widows and children left behind.

Knights of Columbus member Jack Shea holds two memorial wreaths that were laid at the feet of the Father McGivney statue by Francis and Roberta Kelly. Sixteen years ago the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford launched an attempt to have Father McGivney be formally recognized as a saint. Twelve years later Pope Benedict XVI approved a decree recognizing the heroic virtue of Fr. McGivney. The pope’s declaration significantly advanced the process toward sainthood. The declaration allows Catholics to refer to McGivney with the title “Venerable Servant of God”.

The local chapter of the Knights of Columbus is actively recruiting new members to its chapter. Like many other service organizations – the Rotary, the Lions, the Kiwanis Club – the local council has experienced a difficult time keeping new members flowing into the organization. You can contact Sheridan Council by email at, by regular mail at Sheridan Council #24, Knights of Columbus, PO Box 3459, Waterbury, CT, 06705