KNIGHTS OF ST. JOHN INTERNATIONAL
There was religious intolerance in Europe during the 1800 and as a result of that some practicing Catholic men and women left Europe for the United States of American to enable them serve God and practice freedom of worship. These immigrants formed many benevolent societies within their parishes and rectories in the church and some of them named their said benevolent societies after Medieval Knights which was formed during the crusade era. They also found themselves in another unstable position, as it was the time that the American Civil War was in progress.
After the Civil War has ended there was the need for physical and spiritual healing and as result of that more benevolent Catholic societies were found often will military theme. In 1879 the various Catholic benevolent societies in America met in Baltimore, Maryland and many of them agreed to merge, forming the Roman Catholic Union of the Knights of St’. John.
The Organization chose for itself as a model and patron, St. John the Baptist, the Baptiser of Jesus Christ St. John the Baptist as he stood for the truth and died as result of that.
The members decided to make the newly formally organization an incorporated body and on 6th May, 1886 had it registered under the special Laws of New York, as Roman Catholic Union of the Knights of St’ John and was later shortened to the Knight of St’ John.
In 1992 a resolution was passed to amend the name Knight of St. John to Knights of St’ John International to reflect the reality that the order had spread to many countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, the Republic of Panama and recently the United Kingdom.
The Noble Order of the Knights of St. John international came into Ghana, then Gold Coast in 1933. The Archbishop of Cape Coast at that time, His Grace Archbishop Thomas William Porter gave provisional consent for the order to operate in the country for a give year period for assessment before final authorization was granted for the fist commandery to be established in the Gold Coast. At the end of the five year period in 1937, the Archbishop gave approved for the establishment of the Order in Saltpond. It was through the instrumentality of Emmanuel Rephael Quansah that the first commandery in Ghana was opened at St’ John the Baptist at Saltpond. In the Koforidua diocese the first commandery # 400 was opened at St’ Michael Parish in July 1968 at Nkawkaw.
THE REGISTERED OBJECTIVE OF KNIGHT OF ST’ JOHN UNDER THE SPECIAL LAWS OF NEW YORK ARE:-
1. To create and foster a feeling of fraternity and fellowship among the various commanderies within the union.
2. To improve their moral, mental and social condition.
3. To assist and support members and their families in case of want, sickness or death.
4. To promote the welfare of the Roman Catholic Religion.
Invariably, the above-mentioned objectives particularly promotion of the welfare of the Roman Catholic Church has never been compromised.
The order plays significant role in advancing the course of the Church at the local parishes and at the diocesan level.
(a) They are playing pivotal roles on liturgical matter.
(b) Actively involved in parish statutory committees.
(c) Spearheading fund raising activities at the parish
(d) Contribute towards the upkeep of seminarians
(e) Contribute financially towards church project
(f) Defend the teachings of the church in cases where we come into contact with critics of our faith.
a. We organize monthly meetings for members.
b. Retreat are organized from time to time
c. Schools of the Knights are organized yearly for members. Its purpose is to educate members on the tenets and principles of the Order.
d. Annual games are organized by members.
The Knights of St’ John International organized themselves into groups placed under a command and located at a Catholic Parish. Each unit was referred to as a Commandery which mostly adopted the name of the Parish.
Local commanderies were grouped into District Commanderies (i.e. Diocesan) and Grand Commanderies (Ecclesiastical province).
In the Koforidua diocese there are eleven commanderies namely:-
St. Michael Commandery - Nkawkaw
St. George Commandery - Koforidua
Our Lady of Fatima - Oda
Holy Trinity - Agomanya
St. Anthony - Akwatia
St. Mary - Asamankese
Our Lady of Good Counsel - Kwahu Tafo
St. Peter - Somanya
St. Barbara - Akosombo
St. Joseph the Worker - Adoagyiri
St. Catherine - Kade
St. Fidelis - Tease
With the exception of Our Lady of Good Counsel and St. Fidelis all the rest have cadets commanderies attached.
The District Commandery is headed by the District Commander, Colonel Francis K. Kumi of P.O Box 1439 Koforidua.
The 1st Vice Commander – Ltd Col. David Afram of G.E.S. P. O. Box 302, Akim – Oda.
The 2nd Vice Comander is Major Dr. Bernard Nuertey of P.O. Box 74, Kade.