New Council Development

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Shortly after the founding of the Order, Father Michael J. McGivney wrote a letter to every pastor in the diocese of Hartford, which at that time encompassed all of Connecticut, and asked them to “exert your influence in the formation of a council in your parish.” This demonstrated that Father McGivney saw new councils as the best viable means of growth and expansion for the Order, and that new councils should be parish-orientated.

Today, we are still pursuing Father McGivney’s goal of one Knights of Columbus council in every parish, and as shown by the excellent record the Order has enjoyed over the past years, we are closer today than ever before. However, there is still a long way to go, and every state and province can contribute.

During his first address to the state deputies, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson stated that “we have nothing less than a moral obligation to offer every eligible Catholic man the opportunity and the privilege of membership in our Order.” He also stated, “we must have a Knights of Columbus presence in every parish.”

With that in mind, this site has been designed to assist in the development of new councils, re-instituted councils and college councils in your jurisdiction. Reading through the site will give you basic knowledge and understanding of the procedures used in this process.

New Council Development Guidelines

The development of new councils is primarily the responsibility of the district deputy, with the assistance of his state’s new council development chairman and the insurance agent. To assist him, the following procedures have been developed.

Step #1: Survey the Area

The district deputy should determine the potential of both the initial and future membership in the specific area under consideration.  Are existing councils attracting the vast majority of Catholic men in the area, or are they “hitting and missing?” Always remember Father McGivney’s dream of a Knights of Columbus council in every parish. This is still our goal and you should strive to achieve it within your district. The days of one council effectively serving five, six or ten parishes are gone.  Each priest deserves his own council — and our job is to make sure he gets one.

Click for a map of the KofC Councils and Parishes in the Cleveland Diocese.

Step #2: Contact the Pastor

After determining that the potential for a new council exists within the district, the district deputy’s next step is to contact the pastor of the parish where the council will exist. A letter of introduction is a good idea, but it is by no means sufficient. The district deputy must personally visit the pastor before beginning
his efforts.

During this meeting, his first priority is to establish a good relationship with the pastor. He should explain the Order at length and specifically explain the benefits of having a Knights of Columbus council in his parish. The district deputy should be prepared to leave some literature with the priest for his perusal.
It may also be wise to supply the priest with the name of another pastor in the community that has a council in his parish. The support of the pastor is essential if the council is to be established. The district deputy should explain that he would like to do most of his recruiting following Masses on a specific Sunday and that pulpit announcements made by the pastor would be appreciated. If the pastor wishes, these announcements can be made by the district deputy or a member of his committee.

From this meeting, the district deputy should attempt to get a list of parish members and their addresses from the pastor. In addition, ask for a list of names that Father would consider “good leaders” — he knows his workers.

This should only be one of many meetings that the district deputy has with the pastor; he will truly be one of the new council’s “key men.”

Step #3: Contact the State Deputy

If the pastor gives his permission for the formation of a new council, the district deputy should contact the state deputy, if he has not done so already, and inform him of the current progress with the council. A “Notice of Intent to Establish a New Council” (Form #133), should now be completed and forwarded to the state deputy for his signature, and subsequent forwardingto the supreme secretary. The state new council development chairman will also be advised when he receives his copy of this form.

Notice of Intent to Establish a New Council – #133


Upon receipt of this form at the Supreme Council office, a New Council Canvasser’s Kit, containing a variety of recruitment materials and informational aids designed to assist in the establishment of a council, will be forwarded to the district deputy.

Step #4: Contact the Insurance Representative

If the district deputy has not already done so, he should contact his general agent and inform him of the plans to establish a new council. The agent will either assign a field agent to work with the district deputy or choose to do the work himself. The agency staff is comprised of professional salesmen — salesmen who sell
membership as well as insurance. A wise district deputy will take advantage of this professional assistance.

Step #5: Initial Recruitment Drive

A date for the initial recruitment drive at the parish should be set. The district deputy should also have ready the date and time of the first organizational  meeting. It is suggested that the district deputy provide the parish priest with a pulpit announcement which would point out that a Knights of Columbus council is being established at the parish and where the meeting for all interested would be held. It is also suggested that a notice to this effect be placed in the parish

Step #6: Committee Meeting

From the district deputy’s contacts with the pastor and from the results of his initial recruitment efforts, he should be prepared to select key men interested enough to form a steering committee, which will assist in the formation of a council at their parish. The district deputy and the insurance agent should meet with
them to prepare plans for the organizational meeting. It may be well at this time for the district deputy to select a temporary chairman and temporary financial secretary — the former to act as membership chairman and the later to take notes at the meeting and act as temporary financial secretary. These men, as the
process continues, will be looked upon by their peers as men of responsibility and will become the council’s first grand knight and first financial secretary.  Therefore, great care must be taken in their selection.

The district deputy and temporary secretary should open a bank account under the interim name of “New Council, Town or City, Knights of Columbus.” Checks should be signed only by those two individuals, although the responsibility of these funds rests with the district deputy. (Once the council number is assigned
by the Supreme Council office, this should be added to the checks.)

Step #7: Organizational Meeting

By this time, plenty of advance notice has been given to the parishioners regarding the district deputy’s initial organizational meeting. This meeting should be short and to the point. It is a strong suggestion that wives attend to get them involved early in the council and the Knights of Columbus. The district deputy presides and welcomes the group — he is not there to ask the group if they want a council — he is there to organize a council! Remember to “accentuate the positive!”

The district deputy introduces the representative of the state council (a state officer or new council development chairman) to “sell” the overall program of the Order. His remarks should be tailored to the group he is addressing. The important thing is that he knows what he is talking about, that he is positive and
upbeat and that he covers all aspects of the Order that the group is interested in. A way to supplement his remarks is to use the audiovisual production “Experience of a Lifetime,” included in your New Council Development Kit.

The district deputy also introduces the insurance representative to briefly explain the insurance benefits available for members, including the “New Member Insurance Plan” for candidates and their wives. The insurance representative will no doubt mention that he will personally contact each prospect at his home to further discuss the Order’s insurance features in greater detail.

Of course, the pastor and any members of the clergy in attendance should be invited to address the gathering.

The district deputy and other members present should answer any of the groups questions before the meeting adjourns. Also, if the district deputy did not have an opportunity to select a temporary chairman or temporary secretary, they should now be selected.

If initiation fees and council dues have not been determined, they should be at this meeting.

The most important part comes when the meeting adjourns. Tables should be set within the meeting hall so that assistance can be offered to prospective members in completing their membership documents. Membership Documents (#100) should not simply be handed out to those present — prospects must be
assisted in completing the documents and collect their initiation fees and dues.

Chances are that after the first meeting, the required 30 members needed to start a council will not have been met. The membership committee, (district deputy, temporary officers and the insurance representative) should hold recruitment meetings at regular intervals to review progress and supplement the membership
drives. Additional organizational meetings should be held to a necessary minimum, but scheduled promptly so not to lose the enthusiasm of new members. Candidates will want action — not oratory!

Step #8: Admission Degree

Do not hold candidates for a large First Degree class. The district deputy should arrange for candidates of the new council to receive their First Degree as they are enrolled. These candidates may be included in classes being held by other councils within the district. The district deputy can also arrange for a nearby First Degree team to exemplify the ceremonial for a small group of candidates from time to time.

One First Degree class should be designated as the “Institution Class.” The date of this degree can be used as the institution date of the new council. However, the actual selection of the date is up to the district deputy and the new council.

Step #9: plans for Institution

Immediately following the institution date, the district deputy’s records should indicate that a total of at least 30 men have completed membership documents, and those who are new members have been initiated into their First Degree.

The final figure includes new members, former members, and transfers, although transfers should be held to a minimum.

The district deputy now completes the “Notice of Institution” (#136) and forward one copy to the supreme secretary’s office, along with the membership documents for the charter members of the new council. The form should indicate the number of new members, the number of members who transferred into the
council, and the number of former members who renewed their membership in the new council. A copy is provided for the state deputy and should be forwarded to his office. Upon receipt of this form and the required 30 membership documents at the Supreme Council office, a number will be issued, and the council
will be notified immediately.

Notice of Institution – #136

Upon receipt of the “Notice of Institution,” a Council Outfit, containing all the necessary supplies and materials for the operation of a properly functioning council, will be forwarded to the new grand knight. Included are accounting supplies, administrative and ceremonial guidelines, and informational literature.
Additional items should be requested to conform with the number of “Charter Class” members.

A Council Seal will be ordered by the supreme secretary’s office when the Notice of Institution is received and the name selected for the new council is listed on the form.

The district deputy may arrange for the election of the council’s first officers prior to the institution, following the First Degree, or at a meeting held at an early date after the degrees. Formal installation of officers may be held at the district deputy’s preference, but should be scheduled soon.

Step #10: Application for Charter

The”Application for Charter” (#137) should be completed and forwarded to the Supreme Council office as quickly as possible. Names must be printed in alphabetical order.

Charter members are only new members who signed applications or members that transferred their membership into the new council on or before the date of institution. If in the event that candidates failed to take their First Degree for a valid reason the application may be held until they receive their First Degree,
but this must be a reasonable length of time.

Application for Charter – #137

If the council is to be named after an individual, the district deputy includes a short biography, along with the date of death, since the laws of the Order provide that no council can be named after a living person (Section 97).

If the district deputy does not designate a council name on the application, the charter will reflect the city in which the council was established.

Upon receipt of the application at the Supreme Council office, the charter will be engrossed and forwarded to the charter grand knight, unless otherwise requested.

Step #11: Presentation of Charter

Upon receipt of the charter, it is up to the district deputy to make a formal presentation of the charter to the grand knight on behalf of the supreme knight and the board of directors. The charter gives evidence of the right to exist as a council and authority to confer degrees in accordance with the Charter, Constitution and Laws of the Order.

The presentation of the charter ceremony should be conducted by the district deputy. Refer to the “Charter Presentation Ceremony” section.

Step #12: Follow-Up

After the institution of the new council it is essential that the district deputy maintain a close personal contact with the new council officers and the program directors to see that all are properly trained and instructed in their respective duties and to assure the continued and successful operation of the new council.
They should be urged to take an active role in all phases of council activity.

We strongly recommend that the district deputy arrange for the leaders of the new council to view the audio-visual productions that deal specifically with this topic. “Those Who Serve” explains the duties of each council officers. “Faith In Action” details the organizational structure of the Service Program and provides programming suggestions and ideas. Both of these productions are forwarded to the new council in the “New Council Outfit Kit.”

A “Faith In Action” program kit is sent to the new grand knight following the institution process at the Supreme Council office. The grand knight should complete and return the Service Program Personnel Report (#365) to the Supreme Council Department of Fraternal Services. This and other reporting forms can be found in the Council Report Forms Booklet (#1436) distributed with the packet.

The council should begin immediately to make plans for the initiation of its first class of candidates. Growth potential is greatest when enthusiasm of the membership is at its peak. An early emphasis on recruitment reflects the continuing excitement of the members to the new venture and will more easily attract
other eligible Catholic men to the new council’s ranks.



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