Bringing the Pope to the World

On June 30, 1966, two new 100-kilowatt short-wave transmitters donated respectively by the late Francis Cardinal Spellman and by the Knights of Columbus were dedicated at Vatican City and accepted personally by Pope Paul VI.

The transmitters still are in use, bringing programs reflecting the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church to the four corners of the globe.

Under the aegis of the Catholic Advertising Program, the Knights began a project in l975 of televising the pope to the world. The programs utilize the four satellites placed in space by the International Telecommunications Satellite Consortium (INTELSAT) of which the Holy See is a member. The K of C pays the costs of beaming the programs to the satellites, and also part of the charges for capturing the signal by TV stations in mission lands.

A minimum of three special programs are scheduled each year. These include the Pope's Midnight Mass at Christmas, a series of Holy Week ceremonies, and one other outstanding event of interest to Catholics worldwide. In 1977, the canonization of St. John Neumann was broadcast to the United States. Had it not been for the intervention of the Knights, this historic ceremony in which the "little bishop of Philadelphia" became a saint might never have been seen live in the U.S. The funeral of Pope Paul VI, the Mass initiating the ministry of Pope John Paul I, his subsequent funeral and the initiation of Pope John Paul II's pontificate all were brought to a global audience of some half-billion persons under this program.

Other specials included the uplink of the World Day of Peace held in Assisi, and the canonization of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint, both in 1987.

Delegates to the 1981 Supreme Council meeting unanimously approved the creation of a $10 million fund (doubled to $20 million in 1988), the "Vicarius Christi" fund, for the personal charities of the Holy Father. Earnings of the fund are presented annually to the Pope in perpetuity; the last presentation brought the total gift to more than $20 million.

More recently, the Order has undertaken many projects in support of the works of the Church. A brief description of some of these initiatives paint a picture of unselfish generosity in promoting the Gospel message. The Knights:

  • presented a mobile television production unit to the Vatican Television Center for the taping, recording and transmission of Vatican ceremonies and provided $250,000 to update its equipment;
  • established the $2 million Count Enrico Galeazzi Fund for the Pontifical North American College for the benefit of the College, U.S. and Canadian Bishops and its priest-students; the Father McGivney Fund for the Collegio Pontificio Filipino; the Our Lady of Guadalupe Fund for the Pontifical Mexican College; and the Father McGivney Fund for Advanced Studies of Priests in Puerto Rico;
  • underwrote the erection of the Chapel of Sts. Benedict, Cyril and Methodius, co-patrons of Europe, and the expansion of the Chapel of Our Lady of Czestochowa, both in the grottoes of St. Peter's Basilica, Rome;
  • made a $2 million grant for the construction of the chapel in the new headquarters of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops dedicated to Mary, Mother of the Church, and identified as the "Knights' Chapel" in honor of former Supreme Chaplain, Bishop Greco; and raised $1 million for the Bishop de Laval Fund to help support the work of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops;
  • contributed $250,000 to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops for the Pope's 1987 pastoral journey to the United States, and $100,000 to the program on Catholic education conducted by the National Catholic Educational Association during his visit;
  • have distributed millions of special Knights of Columbus rosaries at the rate of some 10,000 per month, especially to new members;
  • support a multimillion dollar Student Loan Program for members and their children pursuing higher education, with all seminarians eligible;
  • provide support for such varied apostolates as the Eternal Word Television Network; the National Clergy Conference on Alcoholism; Morality in Media; the National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities; the National Foundation for Mexican-American Vocations; the National Apostolate with Mentally Retarded Persons;
  • provide $73 million-plus dollars in Church-related mortgages to Catholic dioceses and institutions at low interest rates;
  • renovated St. Mary's Church in New Haven, the birthplace of the Order and entombed the remains of the founder, Rev. Michael J. McGivney, therein on March 29, 1982. Completed the 110-year-old construction plan of the church by erecting a 179-foot steeple, including a carillon of three bronze bells, atop St. Mary's;
  • allocated $900,000 to the Archdiocese for Military Services, U.S.A., for the purchase of a chancery office near washington, D.C. Monies came from a fund established by the Order in 1987 to buy a chancery and provide for Spiritual needs of armed forces and embassy personnel; and
  • sponsor Mass daily for deceased brother knights at St. Mary's Church in New Haven and enable widows of members to receive COLUMBIA magazine each month.