|Knights of Saint Columba Council 64 Ormskirk|
The Knights of Saint Columba – Article by Heather Wright
When my husband were married I have to confess, that at first, as a practising Anglican there were many aspects of Catholicism that were a complete mystery to me. I regarded myself as cosmopolitan having lived in Glasgow, Birmingham and Liverpool; some of the most multicultural cities in Britain. Yet, my knowledge of the Catholic Church was mainly based on what I had picked up from episodes of Father Ted.
Attending Mass at first was very daunting. What if I stood up or sat down at the wrong time? Would I be denounced as an imposter? Not only did I learn quickly that there were more similarities than differences in our two faiths, but also that the congregation of St Anne's Church in Ormksirk couldn't have been more welcoming.
Even so, when my husband was approached to join the Knights of St Columba, I was a little baffled. I had seen their events on the weekly bulletin sheet. But were they an historic re-enactment society, or a masonic order? I didn't know. Of course, they are neither and in fact play a vital, if perhaps not widely enough known part in Church life.
The Knights of St Columba (KSC) were founded in 1919 by a group of Catholic men in Glasgow who had served in the trenches of World War I France. These men became inspired by ethos and activities of the American Knights of Columbus. By the early 1920's, based on the fundamental virtues of charity, unity and fraternity “Councils” of Knights, had crossed the border to England with a foundation in Liverpool. Council 64 soon followed in Ormskirk in 1923. By 1925 the Order had reached London.
The period following the Second World War was an active period and membership continued to grow, but during the late 1950's and early 1960's, with the decline of the inner city parishes and consequent dispersement of the Catholic population, recruitment slowed. However the Order still continued to develop and in 1982, the Knights of Saint Columba had a very public role, as stewards, during the visit to the country by Pope John Paul II.
The KSC has continued to evolve to meet the changing education, spiritual and financial needs of the Catholic community. It continues to be one of the strongest and most active Catholic organisations with over 4600 members nationally.
On his recent visit to the UK, Pope Benedict XVI stated that the lay faithful should be examples of faith in public and should put the case for the promotion of faith's wisdom and vision in the public forum. The Knights' aim to do this. From what I have observed locally, they fulfil their motto of 'serving God by serving others'.
Next year, 2013, will be the 90th anniversary of the KSC in Ormskirk (Council 64). The the projects they have been involved in over almost a century are numerous. These include holding Lenten house groups, sponsoring young people to go to Lourdes and fund raising for local and international charities. Another important activity is that of visiting the sick and providing support for the widows of former Knights. My husband was in hospital for a couple of weeks before Christmas and it was lovely for both of us to be offered support and prayers by his fellow Knights.
The Knights can be recognised, when attending Church in their official capacity, by their distinctive collarettes and can be seen stewarding at some of the key services and events throughout the liturgical year.
The frequent fund raising activities continue, usually in the parish centre, and are an ideal way of supporting a good cause and having fun in the process. I recommend that you come along and see for yourself.
For my husband and I the Order has already had a positive impact on our lives, both spiritually and socially and hopefully will continue to do so for many years!
The Knights of Saint Columba is open to all Catholic men of faith, the Ormskirk order meets on the first Wednesday of every month in St Anne's Parish Social Centre and welcomes enquiries from those interested in joining and carrying on the good work.
For more information on the Knights and the charitable work they carry out in your Parish, please visit www.ksc.org.uk