THE Order of the Knights of St Columba was formed by a group of Catholic men in Glasgow in October 1919, undoubtedly inspired to a large extent by the work of the American Knights of Columbus who operated a Forces canteen in Glasgow during the First World War.
The order spread quite quickly in the West of Scotland and then moved to Liverpool and Lancashire, jumping to London and the South-East in the middle and late 1920s.
Today the Knights of St Columba consists Of some 500 local councils of Knights organised in some 33 provinces and stretching from Aberdeen to Bodmin.
The aims and the obiects of the KSC maybe summarised as being an Organisation of Catholic men giving loyalty to the Apostolic See. bishops and . participation in the work of the lay apost olate, the promotion of the moral and material welfare of its members and of the Catholic community to provide for the deirendants of deceased members and to promote the interests of Catholic youth,
The welfare of its! members and the care of the dependants of deceased members have always formed the heart of the order, although since the war there has been a continual expansion of the role of the Knights in the work of the lay apostolate ifld for youth.
The national activity programme recommended to councils and members is based on four themes concerned with the protection and sanctity of life, justice and peace at home and abroad. and the promotion of Christian virtue and morality.
Councils have been active in the support of pro-life organisations, while a number of councils and provinces are fully engaged in the development and 'fund-raising con.nected with the opening of new hospices for the incurably and terminally ill.
The Order's concern for the moral welfare of all the people of this country gave birth, during its golden jubilee year, to the idea of the formation of constituency committees composed of concerned Christians who would provide their Member of Parliament with the Christian viewpoint on existing and proposed legislation.
Realising that such committees should be as representative as possible of Christian opinion, the KSC approached a number of national, organisations to support and sponsor the Christian con
stituency. committee movement, and arising from this approach the Consortium of Christian Organisation was formed which today, in addition to the major national Catholic organisations-, includes representatives of the Church of England Men's Society and the Church Army.
Membership is open to all practising Catholic men over the age of 18.
It is easier to have 20-20 vision in hindsight than in foresight and it is difficult to predict the future role of the Order in the life of the Church in this country. If, however, the part played during the last nearly 60 years gives any indication, then the strength of the organisation and its adaptability will enable it to continue to make a significant contribution to the Catholic life and culture of this country in the years to come.
Douglas Mutch •