The Knights of Columbus – Liberty, Life, Family
The Knights of Columbus is the largest Catholic, fraternal, service organization in the world.
Thanks to the efforts of Father Michael J. McGivney, the Connecticut state legislature on March 29, 1882, officially chartered the Knights of Columbus as a benefit society. The Order is still true to its founding principles of charity, unity and fraternity.
The Knights of Columbus has grown from several members in one council to 15,342 councils and 1.9 million members throughout the world.
Their charitable activities encompass an almost infinite variety of local, national and international projects. They support such charities and causes as the Christian Refugee Relief Fund, Disaster Relief, Ultrasound Initiative, the Global Wheelchair Mission and the Habitat for Humanity.
The Knights of Columbus have shown a lasting devotion to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by raising funds for various causes including Special Olympics, through their Disability Drives and other endeavors.
The Department for Persons with Disabilities is blessed to be supported by the Knights of Columbus.
The Department for Persons with Disabilities and the Knights of Columbus
A Lasting Friendship
Since 1965, the Knights of Columbus and Columbiettes, have raised over $4,000,000 for DPD through their annual Disability Drives and other endeavors. Though this support is mainly from councils within the Paterson Federation, Knights from across the country have given back to DPD in various capacities.
"We founded DPD in 1965 on a hope and a prayer, and right from day one, the Knights of Columbus were by our side. They helped us raise funds, volunteered their time and even helped us renovate our first group homes, Murray House and Finnegan House. Past Master of the Fourth Degree, Fred Conforti, helped us connect to Knights of Columbus Councils around New Jersey. If it wasn't for the Knights of Columbus, the Department for Persons with Disabilities wouldn't be what it is today," said DPD Founder, Monsignor Jack Wehrlen.
Today, Knights are DPD volunteers, friends and advocates. There has always been the Paterson Federation State Officer on DPD's Board of Trustees. The Knights of Columbus, have given more to DPD than any one person, family, company or foundation. Numerous DPD clients and staff members are Knights of Columbus and Columbiettes. The Columbus House, in Jefferson Township, is named after the Knights of Columbus for their many years of support. The relationship between DPD and the Knights of Columbus has been one of love, unity and devotion.
For many years starting in the 1980's, Dominick Calabrese, a State Officer of the NJ Knights of Columbus, was involved with DPD as a member of the Board of Trustees. His involvement as a liaison between the Knights and DPD was critical to cementing this relationship.
This was culminated in a fund raising campaign that Dominick was spearheading as a Past State Deputy in 1997. His idea was to raise funds through the Knights councils in the Paterson Diocese to pay off the DPD's existing mortgage. This would have allowed the DPD to acquire additional group homes. At the time in 1997, DPD had 5 group homes.
On a Sunday evening in September at St. Thomas Church in Oak Ridge Dominick was speaking to kick off the fundraising program when he suffered his fatal heart attack. The Knights of the Paterson Federation quickly moved to make sure that "Dominick's Dream" of paying off the DPD mortgage became a reality. Within 3 years the Paterson Federation councils raised over $150,000; more than enough to make "Dominick's Dream" a reality.
In September 2001 Calabrese House was opened in Parsippany. The first home purchased after Dominick's Dream was realized. It continues to be a testament to his life and dedication to DPD.
Now, through Dominick's efforts, there are 12 DPD residential programs.
Dominick's wife, Terry and their children continue to be involved with DPD and Calabrese House. We will forever remember Dominick for his many contributions to our cause.
How Can My Council Get Involved?
If your Knights of Columbus Council is looking for a disability cause to support, or if you need help with your Disability Drive call our Development Office at 973-406-1104. You can also email us at
We would be happy to set up a visit, send you materials or give you more information about the very important work we do.