The Columbiettes, a busy auxiliary hoping to grow beyond the Northland

The current and new officers of the Columbiettes Auxiliary #7064 pose for a photo following the installation July 16 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Gladstone. Back left to right are past president Patty Dunsworth, Cynthia “Cindy” Olson, and Mary “Beth” Pascuzzi.  Front left to right are Mary Ragan, Tonya Hritz, president, Mary Purnell, secretary. (Marty Denzer/Key photo )

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — The Columbiettes? Who are they? The Columbiettes are an international Catholic women’s auxiliary affiliated with and supportive of the Knights of Columbus. The Columbiettes differ from the Knights of Columbus Ladies Auxiliary in that they are affiliated with the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council, while the Ladies Auxiliary is affiliated with the State Councils, and members aren’t required to be married to or closely related to a Knight.

The Columbiettes were founded in New York in 1939 by Msgr. J. Francis McIntyre (later Cardinal McIntyre of Los Angeles). The idea of a ladies organization to work with the Knights of Columbus was sparked when the priest saw a large group of women leaving a Communist rally at Madison Square Garden in 1938. He was assisted by attorneys John Leo Coyle, a Past Faithful Navigator and Charles Maruca, a Past Grand Knight of the New York Chapter Knights of Columbus, who designed a plan for the group of Catholic women Msgr. McIntyre envisioned. The two Knights enlisted the aid of Judge Margaret Mary J. Mangan, one of the first women to be admitted to the New York State Bar Association in 1932. She later became the second woman to sit on the New York State Supreme Court. And she served as the first president of the Columbiettes.

The plan they designed called for the establishment of Columbiettes Auxiliaries in each Knights of Columbus Council, all coordinated under the direction of one parent group.

In the ensuing 80 years, the Columbiettes expanded throughout the East Coast and in California, as well as in Canada. In 2016, the Father Robert A. Hager Auxiliary #7064 dba the Columbiettes at St. Patrick Parish, the first Columbiettes Auxiliary in the Midwest, was chartered with 32 members. The auxiliary has since grown to 49 members from six parishes — St. Patrick, St. Gabriel Archangel, St. Therese north, St. James – Liberty, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and recently, Holy Family.

Knight of Columbus Bill Lee, District Deputy for K of C District 4, and liaison to Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, said that currently there are 28,000 Columbiettes members in the US and Canada.

The Columbiettes work alongside the Knights of Columbus, living and promoting Catholicism — Spirituality, Charity, Fraternity and Patriotism. The auxiliary raises its own funds and does its own charity work. “We are everywhere!” said Tonya Hritz, president. Members work the St. Patrick El Salvador Soup Dinner with the Knights yearly, raise funds through Bunco in the Knights of Columbus Hall, work the weekly Bingo game at the Hall running the Bada Bingo Café, and Columbiettes Yard Sale. The funds raised help support charitable projects including making monetary donations to Catholic Charities, Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief, Support Our Seminarians (monetary donations to two seminarians) and St. Michael’s Veteran Center (to help pay for repairs to the transportation van), among many others. They have donated blankets to the City Union Mission, cohosted two years in a row with the Knights of Columbus a baby bottle drive with proceeds going to Rachel House and greeting, serving and bussing tables at One City Café. The list of charitable events and programs includes 35 events and programs the Columbiettes have worked at, sponsored or made monetary donations to since they were chartered.

There are two degrees within the Columbiettes. Each degree ceremony is a lesson on the Order’s core values — spirituality, charity, fraternity and patriotism. The First Degree Exemplification Ceremony confers membership in the Columbiettes and, as such, become eligible for election as officers after attaining the Major Degree.

Members benefit from an extensive support system of Columbiettes, promoting the welfare of members and Church teaching.

The auxiliary is seeking to attract new members and expand beyond the Northland to other parishes in Kansas City. Hritz encourages Catholic women to join the Columbiettes to help shape the future of the auxiliary, develop leadership skills or just participate in an international organization, known for its support of the Catholic Church, and the moral and social teachings. Many Catholic parishes have Knights of Columbus councils. If you are a practicing, practical Catholic woman aged 18 or over, interested in working with and supporting the Knights of Columbus council in your parish, and want to help do God’s work on Earth, to promote unity, Christ’s love for each of us, and serve God through Faith, Hope and Charity, the Columbiettes want to hear from you.

To learn more about the Columbiettes, visit Contact information for Tonya Hritz: (816) 590-3876 or email –


  1. August 23, 2019 at 12:56 pm #

    I would like to know more about your organization. Thank you

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November 27, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph