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History of the Wyoming State Council of the Knights of Columbus

DeSmet Monument

The DeSmet Monument

On July 5, 1840, Father Pierre-Jean De Smet held the first Catholic Mass in the area that is now Wyoming. A monument memorializing Father De Smet's 1840 celebration of the first Catholic Mass in what is now Wyoming is located on U.S. Highway 189 about a mile south of Daniel, Wyo. in Sublette County

In October of 1881, a young priest named Father Michael J. McGivney called together a small group of men to meet in the basement of St. Mary's Church in New Haven, Connecticut. His purpose was to help Catholic men remain steadfast in their faith, promote closer ties of fraternity among them, and set up a system that would help fellow members and their families in times of hardships. The men of this fledgling organization were chartered on March 29, 1882, to be known as the Knights of Columbus in honor of Christopher Columbus, the Catholic discoverer of America.

On July 12, 1903, the first Knights of Columbus council in the state of Wyoming was chartered in Cheyenne.

DeSmet Monument

Four years later, still with only a single council in the state, the Knights were placed under the supervision of Territorial Deputy J. H. Conway, a resident of Cheyenne and a prominent benefactor of St. Mary's Cathedral. Dr. Conway led the Wyoming Knights for the next nine years.

The local councils held a convention on June 5, 1920, in Casper. Wyoming's first state deputy, Charles A. Cullen, took office the following year. A State Council was organized on July 30, 1920.

A monument was erected at the site where Father DeSmet officiated at the first Catholic Mass in Wyoming. A Mass is celebrated in commemoration of that event on the second Sunday of July each year. In 2012, the Knights of Columbus raised the funds necessary to pay for the monument to be re-roofed.

History of Gifts to States Gallery Supreme Museum

Wyoming Boot Spurs

Wyoming Boot Spurs

Boot spurs commemorate the 2005 annual State Council meeting held in Casper. These U-shaped devices of leather and steel would have attached to the rider's heel to encourage a horse to greater speed or to pay attention. In today"s American west, the styles have continued to change over time.

The leather strap, designed to protect the boot from stirrup rubbing is hand-tooled and reads: CASPER/WY/2005. The spur shaft is emblazoned to read "K OF C."

In 1903 a group of Catholic men gathered in Cheyenne for the purpose of planting the seeds of Columbianism in Wyoming. Casper Council 1563 was instituted in 1911 and nine years later, in 1920, the State Council of Wyoming was instituted at Casper.
br/> Gift of Wyoming State Council by State Deputy William J. Briere.

Painting of Stained Glass Window of Rev. Pierre DeSmet (1801-1873)

Painting of Stained Glass Window of Rev. Pierre DeSmet

In 2006, Former Bishop David L. Ricken, Diocese of Cheyenne, was renovating the Chapel in the Bishop's residence. As part of the renovation he asked different organizations if they would assist in the purchase of stained glass windows for the Chapel. The Wyoming Knights of Columbus stepped forward and said they would purchase the window for the sanctuary. The window was to be of Rev. Pierre DeSmet (1801-1873). Father DeSmet (also known as the black robe by the Indians) offered the first Mass in what is now known as Wyoming on July 5, 1840 in the presence of 2,000 Indians, Trappers and Traders on an altar of Native stone. The Mass was on a point overlooking Horse Creek and the Green River near Daniel, Wyoming. In 1925 a monument was erected at the site and a commemorative Mass is offered there annually on the 2nd Sunday of July celebrating the anniversary of the first Mass said by Father DeSmet.

This is a Wyoming Historical site and is known as "The Prairie of the Mass." The glass artist that Bishop Ricken commissioned to do the windows first did a water painting on glass for review and approval. Once the painting was approved, the stained glass window was made and installed. The renovated chapel was dedicated in December 2006. The framed painting is the water painting of Rev. Pierre DeSmet. Framed painting by Michael Shields of Creative Stained Glass Studio LTD Evergreen, CO.

Gifted to Knights of Columbus Museum, Inc., June 13, 2016 by Wyoming State Deputy John E. Benedik Jr., on behalf of the Wyoming State Council.

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