The Beginnings At a meeting held in Glasgow on 5th October 1919; attended by twenty-four Catholic gentlemen; Corkman Patrick J. O'Callaghan asked those present to agree to the formation of a new organisation, which would ultimately be called the Knights of St. Columba. This proposal was agreed and a further meeting was convened. The new Order was to be modeled, as far as was practicable, on the example of the Knights of Columbus in the USA (founded by Fr. Michael J. McGivney in 1881).
As news of the organisation spread, over 100 applications for membership were received in the following weeks, with the first initiation of members taking place on the 11th November 1919.
On St. Patrick's day, 1920, the KSC held a concert in the St. Andrew's Hall, Glasgow, and as a result of this event, several hundred applications for membership were received - The Knights of St. Columba had arrived.
The first Council and the Supreme Council comprised of the same membership and the Board of Directors met on two or three evenings per week. For the first 18 months, the Order had no printed constitution and no full-time official; Ritual and Ceremonial were in a state of flux. Yet the main objectives of the fledgling Order; only practical Catholics to be accepted as members and the advancement of the social and economic status of people; received constant attention from the Order's beginnings.
Development and Growth When the Order was founded, there was no immediate prospect of establishing Councils outside Scotland. However, by the early 1920's the Knights of St. Columba had crossed the border to England with a foundation in Liverpool. By 1925 the Order had reached London. From that period and up to the outbreak of World War II; was the heyday of the Order with up to 200 members at a time being initiated at a ceremony. The period following the Second World War was again a time of expansion, but during the late 1950's/early 1960's, with the decline of the inner city parishes and dispersement of the Catholic population, recruitment slowed. At present there are over 8,000 members; 340 subordinate Charter Councils; 32 Provinces; around the UK, from Inverness in the North to the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and from Cornwall to East Anglia.
In it's early days, the Knights of St Columba had been a ritualistic Order. Early in the 1920's a degree system came into operation; with three stages to membership; a full range of ritual evolved to cover ceremonies and meetings, held in each of the three degrees. Secrecy concerning these ceremonies was demanded.
A new generation of members and changing attitudes made it evident that changes in the ritual of the Order were desirable. By 1966, a simplified form of ritual had been adopted and all elements of secrecy were eliminated. As from 1969, the second level (degree) was abolished and the two remaining simple forms of ritual are Membership (on joining the order) and Knighthood (upon later elevation).