Our History

Late-19th century Connecticut was marked by the growing prevalence of fraternal benefit societies, hostility toward Catholic immigrants and dangerous working conditions in factories that left many families fatherless. Recognizing a vital, practical need in his community, Father Michael J. McGivney, the 29-year-old assistant pastor of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn., gathered a group of men at his parish on Oct. 2, 1881. He proposed establishing a lay organization, the goal of which would be to prevent Catholic men from entering secret societies whose membership was antithetical to Church teaching, to unite men of Catholic faith and to provide for the families of deceased members.

As a symbol that allegiance to their country did not conflict with allegiance to their faith, the organization’s members took as their patron Christopher Columbus — recognized as a Catholic and celebrated as the discoverer of America. Thanks to Father McGivney’s persistence, the Knights of Columbus elected officers in February 1882 and officially assumed corporate status on March 29.

In addition to the Order’s stated benefits, Catholic men were drawn to the Knights because of its emphasis on serving one’s Church, community and family with virtue. Writing in The Columbiad in 1898, a year before he was elected supreme knight, Edward L. Hearn wrote that a Knight should live according to the virtues of loyalty, charity, courtesy and modesty, as well as “self-denial and careful respect for the feelings of others.” Fraternity and patriotism were added to the Knights’ founding principles of charity and unity in 1885 and 1900, respectively.

1882: The Knights of Columbus is born on Feb. 6, 1882, when the first members choose Columbus as their patron. Immediately after the Order’s March 29 incorporation, Father McGivney sends the first diocesan-wide appeal for new members to his fellow priests.

1886: By the end of his four-year tenure as supreme knight, James T. Mullen personally presides at the institution of 22 of the first 38 councils. John J. Phelan is elected to succeed him and is the first supreme knight to sense the Orde r’s destiny as a national society.

1890: Father McGivney dies Aug. 14, 1890. His funeral Mass is celebrated in Thomaston, Conn., four days later.

1892: The Order passes laws allowing noninsurance or associate members to join.

1892: 6,000 Knights march in the New Haven Columbus Day parade to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of the New World.

1895: The Vatican’s first acknowledgment of the Knights comes when Archbishop Francesco Satolli, apostolic delegate to the United States, writes a letter extolling the “merits of this splendid Catholic organization” and giving the Order his apostolic blessing.

1897: On Nov. 25, 1897, Canada’s first council — Montreal Council 284 — is chartered.


Council #8659 was founded at Sacred Heart Parish in Auburn Hills, on April 11, 1984.  The pastor of the parish at that time, Fr. Henry Kreft, was the council chaplain.  There were 29 Charter members. 

Rev. Henry S. Kreft

Anthony J. Mazzola
Brent J. Monterosso
Daniel P. Lane
Domenick J. Farranti
Emmanuel Felice
Ernest G. Gocha
Eugene F. Ochs
George J. Fairman Sr.
Grover E. Schatz
Herbert A. Stacer
James A. Leslie
John F. Ward.
John J. Silvi
John M. LaiFata
John R. Ryan
Joseph L. Sendegas
Larry R. Pete
Leonard F. Kosnik
Mario Cifani
Martin M. Calcaterra
Michael H. Hickey
Noel Sefton
Philip J. Monterosso
RaymondJ. Desormeau
Sam J. Perna
Thomas S. Coughlin
Victor L. Kochajada
Ward J. Monterosso
William G. Corrigan


As Knights, we promise to remember in our prayers those brothers who have died, for their eternal rest. We remember in a special way those charter members who have gone before us, for their faith and dedication, the fruits of which we have inherited. 

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May their soul, and the souls of all the faithfully departed , rest in peace!
Fr. Henry Kreft
Pastor of  Sacred Heart
of Auburn Hills
From 1965 - 1987

b. February 25, 1917 - 
d. August 15, 2009 
Recollections of Fr. Kreft


We are interested to receive any information, memories, stories about our local history. If  you would like to share a fond memory of the early years of the council, please go to our "Contact Us" page and send us your story!


"Driven in large part by political correctness and partisan academics and activists, it has become fashionable in recent years to criticize Christopher Columbus and the holiday named in his honor. A closer look, however, reveals the famed explorer to be a man of faith and courage, not a monster." 
Such are the words of historian, Gerald Corson.  As he explains, some current writers hold Columbus guilty of everything bad that happened in the New World with the arrival of the explorers from Europe, including the diseases, and violence against the indigenous people. Yet Bartolomé de las Casas, the great 16th-century Spanish Dominican priest, historian and missionary to Mexico, know as the "Protector of the Indians," who worked tirelessly to expose the abuse of the native peoples of the New World, writes that he admired and respected Columbus for his “sweetness and benignity” of character, his deep faith and his accomplishments.  As Bartolome goes on to say “Truly, I would not dare blame the admiral’s intentions, for I knew him well and I know his intentions are good.”  Columbus's intention was indeed noble - to discover new lands for the greater glory of God.
The Whole Story
  1. Fr. Michael McGivney - A Man of the People
    About the life of Fr. McGivney, founder of the Knights.
  2. St. John Paul II and the Knights
    Knights in the time of Pope John Paul II
  3. Knights visit Pope Francis
    Knights visit Pope Francis to deliver their charitable donation.
  4. A History of the Knights
    Salt and Light Production about the history of the Knights

Nuestros Hermanos en Mexico
(Our Brothers in Mexico)

Many people in the United States are unaware that the Catholic Church in Mexico underwent a horrible persecution in the 1900's.  This may seem strange to us given the flourishing of faith and their devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe today, but it was one of the most burtal persecutions in the history of the Church.

The 1917 Constitution in Mexico, drafted by Communist sympathizers and members of the Masons, created a whole series of laws that essentially outlawed the Catholic Church.  It outlawed teaching by the Church, gave control over Church matters to the state, put all Church property at the disposal of the state, outlawed religious orders, outlawed foreign-born priests, gave states the power to limit or eliminate priests in their territory, deprived priests of the right to vote or hold office, prohibited Catholic organizations which advocated public policy, prohibited religious publications from commenting on public policy, prohibited clergy from religious celebrations and from wearing clerical garb outside of a church and deprived citizens of the right to a trial for violations of these provisions.  Incredible, yes? 

As the History of the Knights of Columbus Priest Martyrs of Mexico explains, "since its founding in Mexico in 1905, the Knights of Columbus had promoted and given witness to a vibrant understanding of Catholic citizenship. By the time of the 1924 Eucharistic Congress in Mexico City, there were already more than 50 K of C councils throughout the country — from Jiménez, Chihuahua, to Mérida, Yucatán. During the persecution, the Knights helped organize the League for the Defense of Religious Liberty, which brought together and organized the country’s main Catholic institutions. The League worked to raise the nation’s consciousness and demanded that the Mexican government respect the rights of its citizens. In the United States, meanwhile, the Knights created a fund to aid the exiled and the migrants. In addition, they distributed five million flyers denouncing the brutality of the Mexican government toward Catholics. As a result, the Mexican government outlawed the Knights of Columbus and singled out its members for persecution."  As a result of that persecution, thousands who refused to denouce their faith - laymen and relgious - were killed by federal forces, mostly by firing squads. 

 In 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized 25 of those martyrs. Of those, six were members of the Knights of Columbus (Los Caballeros de Colon). We look to them today for inspiration and their intercession, especially when we find ourselves persecuted by laws against freedom of religion and the dignity of life. 


St. Luis Bátis Sáinz
St. José María Robles Hurtado
St. Mateo Correa Magallanes
St. Miguel de la Mora de la Mora
St. Rodrigo Aguilar Alemán
​St.Pedro de Jesús Maldonado Lucero

Prayer to the Knights of Columbus
Priest Martyrs of Mexico​​

Almighty and Eternal God, the martyrdom of St. Mateo Correa Magallanes and his priestly companions manifests your love for the nation of Our Lady of Guadalupe and reveals that violence and hatred are only overcome by a spirit of peace and charity.

These brother Knights live on in our minds and hearts because by sacrificing their lives for the sake of the Gospel they gave witness that your love is eternal and your truth can never accept compromise.

Let their faithful cry to Christ the King encourage us to be brave witnesses of faith and to remain loyal Knights of Columbus.

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.


"Viva Cristo Rey!" (Long Live Christ the King!) was the battle cry of the Cristeros, those men and women who took up the fight against the persecution of the Church, many paying with their lives.

 "History of the Knights of Columbus
Priest Martyrs of Mexico"

Read More

Prayer for Intercession of ​​
The Venerable Fr. McGivney

When an individual becomes a candidate for sainthood, there is an opportunity to call upon him or her for help. Favors received through Father McGivney's intercession are signs of God's love manifested through the holiness of his life.

G​​od, our Father, protector of the poor and defender of the widow and orphan, you called your priest, Father Michael J. McGivney, to be an apostle of Christian family life and to lead the young to the generous service of their neighbor.

Through the example of his life and virtue may we follow your Son, Jesus Christ, more closely, fulfilling his commandment of charity and building up his Body which is the Church. Let the inspiration of your servant prompt us to greater confidence in your love so that we may continue his work of caring for the needy and the outcast.

We humbly ask that you glorify your venerable servant Father Michael J. McGivney on earth according to the design of your holy will.

Through his intercession, grant the favor I now present (here make your request).

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Did you know...

...that President Kennedy was a Fourth Degree Knight  of Bunker Hill Council No. 62?

Other notable Knights include Vince Lombardi, the famed former coach of the Green Bay Packers, and baseball legend Babe Ruth.