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Over one hundred1 national and hundreds more local Catholic lay organizations serve the Church and provide direct services in communities throughout the United States. Here is a spotlight on just four of these organizations: the Knights of Columbus, the Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and the Catholic Extension Society.
More information is available at the USCCB’s Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth at www.usccb.org/about/laity-marriage-family-life-and-youth/.
The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic men’s fraternal benefit society founded in 1882. Today, it is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization. The Knights of Columbus are involved in a large number of service projects that range from programs with groups like Habitat for Humanity and Special Olympics to smaller-scale initiatives that have a large impact on the community, like building wheelchair ramps, organizing blood drives and collecting food for the needy.2
Over the past 10 years, Knights have contributed $1.4 billion and 653 million volunteer hours to charity.5 Some of the largest contributions during 2011 were:6
More information is available at www.kofc.org.
The Knights of Peter Claver and its Ladies Auxiliary is the nation’s only historically African American Catholic fraternal organization. It was founded in 1909 and has over 16,651 members nationwide, including men, women, young men and young ladies. In addition to serving as a support to pastors and bishops, they contribute to the Knights Award Scholarship Fund, mentor youth and contribute to numerous charitable organizations. They have about 1,000 units in the United States.7
During 2012 the organization donated a total of $76,505 to the following charity programs:8
More information is available at www.kofpc.org.
One of the largest charitable organizations in the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, is an international, nonprofit, Catholic lay organization of almost 700,000 men and women who as volunteers provide person-to-person service to the needy and suffering in 144 countries.
More information is available at www.svdpusa.org.
Founded in 1905 to extend the Catholic faith in mission dioceses of the United States where resources are insufficient, the Catholic Church Extension Society of America builds awareness of mission needs and raises funds to spread the Gospel message.
More information is available at www.catholicextension.org.
1 2012 Catholic Almanac (Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 2012),
3 Knights of Columbus, Learn About Us, www.kofc.org
4 Knights of Columbus, Knights of Columbus sets new records for
charitable giving, 06/10/2012,
7 Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary, 2012.
8 Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary, Charitable Donations for 2012.
9 Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of the United States 2012.
11 Catholic Extension, 2011 Annual Report, p. 1, (accessed on 07/27/12)
12 Catholic Extension, 2011 Annual Report, p. 6.
13 Catholic Extension, 2011 Annual Report, p. 10.
14 Catholic Extension, Catholic Extension Across America,
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