By Colleen Rowan The Knights of Columbus have extended their offer of free, first-year membership to Catholic men 18 years and older who sign up online. The free membership offer will be open until June 30. “We are Catholic men who lead, serve, protect and defend. We share a desire to be better husbands, fathers, sons, neighbors, and role models and to put charity and community first. We are role models in a world that needs them. … This is what it means to be a Knight,” the organization states on its website. The West Virginia Knights of Columbus has councils all over the state. They assist charities, are Pro-Life advocates, and promote the Catholic faith and patriotism throughout West Virginia. In a letter to Catholic men last year, Bishop Mark Brennan encouraged them to consider joining the organization. “The Knights of Columbus are not just another ‘club,’” Bishop Brennan wrote. “They are Catholic men committed to living out their faith in practice.” The organization describes its mission as promoting the original principles of Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney (founder of the Knights of Columbus) of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism, and to serve as an example of Catholic gentlemen dedicated to the church and its principles and teachings. The West Virginia Knights’ vision is: “To be the leaders of Catholic principles, teachings and values in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and to create a Knights of Columbus organiza-tion based on our founding principles and dedicated to God and our families that all Catholic gentlemen in the diocese aspire to be a part.” The national Knights of Columbus state on the organization’s website: “Our goal is to strengthen men and their families in the Catholic faith. Formation in our faith goes beyond mere facts or religious practice to an authentic connection with a loving God and his son Jesus Christ. “Knights are called to serve others. Our first principle is charity—at home with our families and in our communities. When Knights of Columbus members come together they accomplish great things. The Knights of Columbus vigorously defend the dignity of each human being at every stage of life.” The special free, first-year membership opened again Jan. 31, and is being offered in honor of the recent beatification of Blessed Michael McGivney. “The founder of the Knights of Columbus, Father Michael J. McGivney was a central figure in the growth of Catholicism in America, and he remains a model today,” Michael Bush, Public Relations chairman for the West Virginia Knights of Columbus State Council, said in a piece he wrote for The Cath- olic Spirit in November. “His example of charity, evangelization, and empowerment of the laity continues to bear fruit and guide Knights of Columbus around the world.” The free membership campaign was launched last year and ended Dec. 31. However, the organization decided to reopen and extend the offer to June 31. Regular dues are $30 a year. To obtain the free, first-year membership, sign up online on the organization’s website: kofc.org/joinus and use promotion code MCGIVNEY2020. For more information about the West Virginia Knights of Columbus, contact: Paul Niedbalski, state deputy, (304) 545-5100 or by e-mail to ginooffice@aol.com; Harry Helmick, membership chair, (304) 295-7097 or by e-mail to helmickhp@yahoo.com; or Sam Gross, online membership chair, (304) 545-4329 or by e-mail to hawkeye221@aol.com.