Brian T. Olszewski, The Catholic Virginian
Here’s another thing men can do with their smart phones: Join the Knights of Columbus.
Since Jan. 16, the Virginia state council has been part of a pilot program designed to give prospective members “a faster way to join,” according to the organization’s information about the undertaking.
Noting the demands upon men due to family and work commitments, Steve Kehoe, Virginia State Deputy for the Knights, said the digital platform is a good way to engage potential members.
“It’s targeted for young professionals, young fathers with growing families, even military members,” he said. “We think it is a fabulous program to reach more men and to continue forming them in the faith, and it allows them to put their faith into practice.”
Kehoe, a member of St. Leo the Great Parish, Fairfax, and father of two college students, a high school student and third grader, said the Knights are aware of the time constraints facing husbands and fathers.
“They have their young families, and they want to do things but they don’t have time,” he said. “They want to be part of something. They want to teach their kids how to do charitable work. That’s why this program is perfect.”
A male, at least 18-years-old and a practicing Catholic, may join online at www.kofc.org/joinus. For $30, among the benefits, according to Kehoe, is being allowed to attend select Knights’ events and eligibility for the organization’s fraternal benefit program.
During the first month in which it was part of the program, the Virginia state council signed up one member per day. Kehoe, a Knight for almost 30 years, said changes in technology allow fraternal organizations to be “forward thinking” in attracting younger members.
“We realized younger people want to be part of something bigger than them,” he said. “They want to do charitable work and they want to be part of a group and be part of something with faith and values.”
There are 150 councils, including five on the campuses of Virginia Tech, William & Mary, James Madison, UVA and George Mason, and 28,196 Knights in Virginia where, according to Kehoe, membership has been “consistent,” increasing over the last 15 to 20 years. He attributed that to trying “to do things right.”
Kehoe wants to dispel the idea that a Knight has “to be involved in everything.”
“You don’t,” he said. “If there’s one thing you want to do, do that. For some, it’s selling Christmas trees. That’s all they do. Another guy organized a blood drive.”
He also hopes to provide a more accurate the image of the Knights.
“Older people have this image of guys drinking,” he said. “We’ve really worked hard to change that image. We put our faith and charitable works up front. That’s what we do.”
Kehoe, 47, noted that the average age of a Knight in Virginia is 57, while order-wide, it is 58.
“We’re younger than the image that is out there,” he said.