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Knights of Columbus.... who are we?

The Knights of Columbus Is a Catholic, Family, Fraternal, and Service Organization. Father Michael J. McGivney who was assigned to St. Mary's Parish in New Haven, Connecticut founded it in 1882. His original goal was to establish a fraternal benefit society that would protect widows and children of the workingmen and foster their faith and social progress. Father McGivney's original idea has now grown into an order of over a million and a half members in over 11,000 individual councils worldwide.

The original principles on which the Order was founded are Charity, Unity, and Fraternity. A fourth principle was added at a later date. It was the principle of Patriotism. It was at that time that the uniform was introduced consisting of a black tuxedo, the black cape lined with red and the hat with the white plume. It also included a sword, which is not intended as a sign of aggression but as a symbol of support of our Pope and to defend Catholic Faith and its principles.

Out of the four principles of our Order, the main principle of the Knights of Columbus is Charity. Knights raise and donate an average $11 million to charitable causes each year. They also volunteer an average of 55 million hours of charitable service each year.

The State of Illinois officially affiliated with the Supreme Order when Chicago Council No. 182 was formed on July 7, 1898. The original Damen Council #650 was chartered on February 24, 1902. Hildebrand Council No. 852 received its charter on May 27, 1904. Both councils played an important role in pioneering the growth of the order in the State of Illinois.

Damen Council No. 650

After due deliberation by members of the Holy Family Church, of Chicago, it was thought that the parish should have a council of the Knights of Columbus. John T. McEnery, a president of the Parish, was authorized to take steps for the organization of a council.

On February 24, 1902, a council was instituted with a charter membership of 60 members. The officers of the Philip Sheridan Council conferred the First and Second Degrees. The Major (3rd) degree was conferred by the State District Deputy Patrick I. McArole.

The name selected for the council, Damen, was In memory of the founder of the Holy Family Parish and the pioneer of the modern Jesuits in Chicago, Reverend Arnold Damen.

The Organizer, John T. McEnery, became the first Grand Knight, and continued his involvement with the Council for many years to follow.

One of the first external activities of the Council was the endowment of a perpetual scholarship in St. Ignatius College. The council was very prominent in the sports field, having taken three championships in baseball and at least one championship in indoor sports.

During the war years, out of 450 members, of the council, 124 entered the service. The council subscribed to $1500.00 worth of Liberty Bonds and $50.00 worth of Savings Stamps. Besides joining in all the General Welfare movements, the council had a well-organized welfare committee of its own, which rendered excellent service.

Hildebrand Council No. 852

Hildebrand Council No. 852 of Chicago was instituted on May 27, 1904. National organizer Michael W. Gleason did the preliminary work of the council. The First and Second Degrees were conferred by degree officers of Pope Leo XIII Council of Chicago and the Major degree (3rd) Degree was conferred by District Deputy Daniel D. Donahoe. The principal officers elected were Joseph H. Donlon GK. and John E. Cooney DGK.

The name selected by the Council, Hildebrand, certainly seems unusual. It was not a name of any well-known or recognizable personality of the time, but it’s a name of historical significance. One of the charter members of this council was Edward F. Hines, the well-known lumber merchant. Mr. Hines was a Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory, having been nominated Pope Benedict the XV. Pope Gregory VII, born in the Tuscany region of Italy around the year of 1013, was known by the name of Hildebrand.

Hildebrand Council took part in all activities of the Order. It was one of the first members of the Chicago Chapter and one of the first Councils to hold its meetings in the Chicago Chapter Council Chambers. The meetings were held there for sixteen years until 1920.

The council initiated some very notable members. Francis J. O'Neill, then Chief of Police of Chicago, took a very prominent part in the degree work, as did his assistant, Frank J. Callahan and many more members of the force.

Reverend Thomas E. Judge, the distinguished writer and Pulpit Orator was another Charter member. The lamented Michael W. Gleason transferred from Chicago Council and became a member of the Hildebrand Council at the time of institution. He retained his membership until his death. Daniel A. McCann, who afterwards became President of the Chicago Chapter, also was a charter member.

The Council also produced two active District Deputies in the persons of PGK Martin Walsh and PGK John E. Cooney.

In later years, PGK Francis M. Murphy (Grand Knight from 1928-1935) became the first full-time paid Executive Secretary of the Chicago Chapter in the 40's and 50's. He had been an active degree officer for decades before his appointment as Secretary. His bother William (Bill) Murphy was also a renowned Degree Staff Officer and was Illinois State Chairman of Ceremonials during the 1950's until his death. It is believed that more Degree Staff Officers have come from Hildebrand Council than any other single Council. In this regard, members of the Hildebrand Council have frequently filled every opening on a degree staff.

Damen Hildebrand Council #650

In late 1982 both Damen and Hildebrand Councils began discussions concerning the possibility merging into one council. This was due to the drop in membership in both councils over the years. In February 1983, both councils reached an agreement to merge. The names of the councils were also merged with Damen preceding Hildebrand due to it being the older of the two councils. Thus began the council as we know it today – Damen Hildebrand Council No. 650. In March 1983 the Supreme Council Board of Directors officially approved the merger of the two councils.

Although the merger appeared to solve the membership problem, the council began having difficulty finding a suitable meeting place. This problem discouraged members from attending meetings due to constant change in location. Poor attendance reduced the council's activity to develop active programs. In 1988, the Council Officers proposed relocation to the western suburbs. Their choice was the Village of Addison. This move was primarily orchestrated by then Deputy Grand Knight Joseph Graziano and was completed by January 1969. The first meeting place for the council after the move to Addison was the lower level of the Addison Savings & Loan building.

In order to make their presence known in the Village of Addison, the council proposed a membership drive at each of the local parishes. On January 10, 1989 Grand Knight Brusko and Deputy Grand Knight Graziano, Treasurer Crowley, and Past Grad Knight Dowd met with Father Salvatore Junta, Pastor of St. Philip the Apostle church. It was agreed that a membership drive would take place on March 23, 1989. A similar agreement was reached with Father Mulloy, Pastor of St. Joseph parish. A membership drive was scheduled for April 13, 1989. These drives resulted in 21 new members, 4 transfers and 5 reinstatements. Thus the presence of Damen Hildebrand Council No. 650 was established.

Since moving to Addison, Damen Hildebrand has played a very active role in charitable activities. To date, proceeds from the annual pancake breakfast have resulted in over 535,000 being donated to Driscoll Catholic High School as financial aid to students in need. The annual Mentally Handicapped (Tootsie Roll) Drive has allowed the distribution of over $250,000 to local organizations that assist the mentally handicapped. In October of each year the council sells pumpkins in their Green Meadows Shopping Center Pumpkin Patch. Parts of these proceeds are donated to the local Food Pantry located at St. Joseph Parish. Many of the St. Joseph and St. Philip Parish Ushers, Readers, Eucharistic ministers and Money Counters are members of this council. Damen Hildebrand has produced three Former District Deputies and two Fourth Degree Assembly Past Faithful Navigators. Awards too numerous to mention have been bestowed upon this council for various contributions and achievements.

The past century of history, in spite of some ups and downs, have been strong for Damen Hildebrand, which has survived two world wars, two other major military conflicts, a merger, and relocation. God willing, Damen Hildebrand will move Into the next century of its existence as strong as ever and will provide the same charitable support to its country, its parishes, its neighbors and its members as it has in the past.


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