History of KC Foundations

THE first foundation of the Knights of Columbus in the Philippines, the Columbian Farmers’ Aid Association (CFAA), was established ahead of the Knights of Columbus Fraternal Association of the Philippines, Inc. (KCFAPI). It was founded in November of 1951 shortly before the closing of the Holy Year that was proclaimed by the Holy Father, Pope Pius XII.
While the primary purpose of CFAA was to help the farmers who were still reeling in destitution as an aftermath of the war, its third objective was “to solicit and receive donations of real and personal property for the purpose of carrying out the purposes aforementioned; and, generally to do and perform all acts and things reasonably necessary and proper for the carrying out of the foregoing purposes.”
In a postwar situation where economic dislocation was widespread, there was not really much prospect on where to solicit and receive donations except from among themselves, the members of the Knights of Columbus, who, at about this time in K of C history, were economically better off than the others. It may even be plausible to assume that one of Fr. George Willmann’s intentions in instituting KCFAPI was to ensure stable financial resources for his many social action works and other benevolent activities which would later be assumed by succeeding foundations.
Shortly after KCFAPI was on its feet, it started allocating funds for the benevolent activities of the Knights of Columbus in the Philippines. A portion of the minutes of the Board of Trustees during its regular meeting on March 26, 1966 read: “Fr. Willmann thanked the Board for its generosity in the past in giving financial assistance to projects of the Knights of Columbus in the Philippines. He requested the Board to consider further giving such financial aid to enable KC-PI… and thus, enable it to increase its effectiveness in the conduct of its various important projects.”
“The Philippine Deputy cited the report at the recent Bishop’s Social Action Committee meeting that the Knights of Columbus is the only mandated Catholic Action organization doing anything worthwhile in the field of social action. He said that the Knights of Columbus had succeeded in organizing 160 credit unions, among other activities, but it acutely lacks personnel to pursue the project satisfactorily. He also mentioned the KC cooperation with the APEPCOM (Association of Publishers and Editors of the Philippine Comics Magazines) to help the group morally improve their publications which have a combined weekly circulation of 2 million copies. He said that with enough manpower, the KC could be more effective in assisting the APEPCOM.”
Apparently to broaden its social action work, the name and nature of CFAA was changed to Knights of Columbus Community Services (KCCS), with the approval of the Securities and Exchange Commission on October 9, 1962. As the name implied, KCCS engaged into various benevolent activities that would later include putting up of credit cooperatives, setting up of KC charity medical clinics and the rehabilitation of prisoners. These have earned the attention of the bishops and the Apostolic Nuncio.
While KCCS got some funding support from KCFAPI, it was not technically a subsidiary of the latter—it was under the Philippine Deputy. KCFAPI only had its own subsidiary foundation at the establishment of Knights of Columbus Philippines Foundation, Inc. on October 21, 1970. Later, the name was changed to KC Philippines Foundation, Inc.
In 1976, the KC Philippines Foundation, Inc. started a scholarship program to benefit non-members of the Knights of Columbus. Known as the “Basilio King Scholarship Program”, it was named in honor of the late Bro. Basilio King, KCFAPI General Manager who died in June 1975. This scholarship program was open to the general public, provided that the applicant belonged to the top three honor graduates of the class. The scholarship covered only those on the tertiary level of education and specifically for courses which could be completed within five years. In 1983, this scholarship program was expanded to cover a two-year Vocational Scholarship for deprived children of deceased KC members.
On June 29, 1977 the Father Willmann’s Fund for Seminarians was established. Launched during Fr. Willmann’s 80th birthday, it was a fulfillment of a dream that may be traced back to 1965 when during his 50th year as a Jesuit, Fr. Willmann made an appeal “for support for his priest successors especially in religious missionary work.” During the Supreme Convention in August of 1977 held in Indianapolis, Indiana, Supreme Knight Virgil Dechant handed to Fr. Willmann the amount of P75,000.00 “to be used to establish a Father Willmann Seminary Burse.” The following year, the foundation which immediately became operational was renamed KC Fr. Willmann Foundation, Inc.
While Oscar Ledesma was Chairman and President of KCFAPI, he worked for the expansion of Fr. Willmann’s Fund for Seminarians. He made representations with the Supreme Council to include scholarships for graduate studies at the Collegio Filippino in Rome for K of C Chaplains in order to provide them, especially those in poor dioceses, opportunity for academic advancement in specialized theological studies. This resulted in the establishment of the Fr. McGivney Fund which started with a donation from the Supreme Council. (J. Ocampo’s “A History of the Knights of Columbus in the Philippines (1905-1990)” calls this fund, “Father Willmann’s Memorial Grant for Graduate Studies at the Collegio Filipino in Rome”).
To generate additional funds for this specialized scholarship in Rome, the Board of Trustees launched in 1981 a project known as “Walang Talong Tulong” which is a trust fund aimed to generate P500,000 earnings which would be used to provide scholarships warranted by the yearly earnings. Before the fund-raising was completely realized, the Supreme Council came to totally subsidize the Fr. McGivney Fund in 1983.
On June 18, 1986, Christopher Foundation was established. The main purpose of this Foundation was to promote and enhance K of C Council-sponsored community projects, particularly such projects that generate livelihood for the poor; and also to render technical assistance in establishing linkages between local K of C councils and funding/lending institutions, both local and foreign.
On February 13, 1996, this Foundation was renamed Oscar Ledesma Foundation to render a fitting tribute to Ambassador Ledesma who died on December 17, 1995, being one of KCFAPI’s founders and one who has left a considerable legacy to the Association.
On August 6, 1996, KC Fr. George J. Willmann Charities, Inc., was established. As a charitable and religious institution, its primary objective is to provide scholarship assistance to poor but deserving diocesan seminarians and to render assistance to Church programs.
On June 30, 2000, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the merging of KC Fr. Willmann Foundation, Inc., Oscar Ledesma Foundation, Basilio King Foundation, and KC Fr. George J. Willmann Charities, Inc., with the latter as the surviving foundation.
In the corporate structure of the KCFAPI, the aforementioned Foundations are listed as subsidiaries, because they indeed are. But they are presented here separately by reasons of their objectives as they are the centerpiece of the Association’s corporate social responsibility thrusts. And, better still, these Foundations actually put into concrete realization the favorite theme of the Knights of Columbus which is “Faith in Action”.
Fr. Willmann was once quoted as saying that the Knights of Columbus Fraternal Association, Inc. was founded with the awareness that since “we owe the community our security and success, we in turn and in social justice, owe to the community our expertise and resources towards our community’s development.”

Father of Knights of Columbus in the Philippines

 

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