Catholic Fraternal Life (CFL) was established as a fraternal benefit society in 1884 under the name of Catholic Knights of Illinois. Membership was obtained through the purchase of a life insurance certificate (policy). The Society was licensed to sell life insurance only in the State of Illinois.
The corporation was formed by a group of Catholic men, mostly of German descent, to offer life insurance products, with the intention of providing some financial assistance to their families, in case of their premature death. This became especially important during times of war.
Approximately 425 Catholic men (laity and clergy) became members of this new Society in the first year of its formation.
In 1892, the Society opened its membership to Catholic women. At that time, the name was changed to Catholic Knights and Ladies of Illinois. To become a member, you had to be Catholic or married to a Catholic.
In 1982, the Society started offering annuities to their current members.
In 1993, the Society changed its By-laws to allow the purchase of an annuity to qualify as membership.
In 1996, the Society changed its name to Catholic Fraternal Life to better reflect who they were. At this time, the By-laws were changed to open membership to anyone who supported the mission of the Society.
In 1997, the Society started marketing their Pre-Need product through funeral homes.
In 1999, the Society became licensed in Missouri and in 2000 became licensed in Nebraska.
In 2008, the Society merged with Holy Family Society of the USA located in Joliet, Illinois. The merged companies became known as Catholic Holy Family Society. The newly formed Society was licensed in 19 states which are listed below:
California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
The Society is currently licensed in 20 states, with the admission into the state of Connecticut in 2023.
The Home Office of the Society was located in Joliet, Illinois. The Belleville office remained open and continued to administer life, pre-need and annuities.
At the 2016 Quadrennial Convention, the members elected a new Board of Directors. Some of the newly elected Board members had served on the CFL Board prior to the merger.
In 2017, in an effort to streamline operations and increase profitability, the Board of Directors voted to close the Joliet office. The Belleville office then became the Home Office.
In 2022, the Board along with the delegates, voted unanimously to change the name back to Catholic Fraternal Life.