Kolping Society, Catholic

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A socio-religious organization for promoting the development of the individual and family, founded in Cologne, Germany, in 1849 by Adolph Kolping, a priest of the archdiocese. Through its "Kolping Houses," which serve as centers of activity of the local branches and also as familial homes with boarding facilities for out-of-town members, it fosters a sense of belonging and friendship through spiritual, educational, social, and charitable programs.

Kolping was ordained on April 13, 1845, in the Minoriten Church in Cologne, which later became the center of his foundation and his final resting place. He became interested in the work that bears his name during his first priestly assignment at Elberfeld in the Rhineland where he was director for a small group of young Catholics organized as a friendship society. After his transfer to Cologne, he organized the first group of young workers on May 6, 1849. The organization soon spread over Central Europe; by 1865, the time of his death, Kolping's societies spread throughout many countries of the world.

The first Kolping societies in the United States were organized in 1859. The present national organization, The Catholic Kolping Society of America, was constituted in 1923 and affiliated to the International Kolping Society. Historically, its houses in New York and Los Angeles served as boarding houses for young men in transition. Its activities are organized in and around the many Kolping Houses, where members and friends gather and interact within the framework of the Christian Gospel.

Bibliography: m. i. fiederling, Adolf Kolping and the Kolping Society of the United States (Chicago 1941). f. j. wothe, Adolf Kolping: Leben und Lehre eines grossen Erziehers (3d ed. Recklinghausen 1952). j. nattermann, Adolf Kolping als Sozialpädagoge (Meiner 1926).

[h. a. krewitt/eds.]