To a considerable degree, Fourth Degree activities are family activities. For that reason we have prepared thee following information. It is intended as a brief overview of the Fourth Degree, and in particular, the special relationship it has to the ladies of it's members. Therefore we address these pages to you.
The Purpose of the 4th Degree
The Fourth Degree is the Patriotic Degree of the Knights of Columbus, and on a national level, it comprises roughly 10% of the membership of the Order. It has five major objectives.
- To promote and strengthen the patriotic spirit of the civic community.
- To educate its members, and others, both in the teachings of Holy Mother Church, and the history of our nation.
- To promote by example the highest type of citizenship so necessary for the preservation and perpetuation of Republican form of government, and its democratic institutions.
- To oppose dissemination and spread of doctrine dangerous to our form of government, and to the Divine law of faith and morality.
- To support by word and deed, the duly constituted authorities of local, state and national government, and to recognize excellence in public life.
The Fourth Degree, both collectively and individually, supports those religious, civic, and charitable causes which are designed to implement one or more of those five objectives.
Not many years after the Knights of Columbus was organized in 1882, many of the members began to urge the foundation of a higher degree. The Supreme Board of Directors approved the formation of the Fourth Degree in 1899. The first exemplification of the Fourth Degree was held at the Aster Hotel in New York on February 22, 1900 with a class of 1400 candidates.
The degree expanded swiftly, and a separate board of governors was set up for the new degree in 1910. The chief executive officer of the Fourth Degree is the Supreme Master. The Fourth Degree is divided in to geographical units known as provinces, of which there are fifteen.
Our province is the Father Edward F. Sorin C.S.C. Province and consists of the states of Kentucky, Indiana, and West Virginia. The chief executive officer of the province is the Vice-Supreme Master. Each province is divided into districts which normally, with few exceptions, coincide with the respective states. Each District has a executive officer known as the Master.
Each Fourth Degree Assembly schedules a number of social events during the year that involve the ladies. At least one dinner meeting is dedicated to the wives, mothers, girlfriends, and sisters of the assembly members. Most Assemblies hold anniversary banquets at which the ladies are honored guests. This is also true of memorial services for deceased members and for ceremonial occasions. The ladies are always invited to installation ceremonies for assembly officers. These social occasions afford the Sir Knights of the Fourth Degree and their ladies to become personally acquainted with members of councils represented in the assembly.
There are no hard and fast rules concerning dress for ladies, rather, the inherent good taste of the ladies is the best guide for them in choosing the proper attire for a given occasion. For major social, or ceremonials events, many ladies choose to appear in formal wear. Others are comfortable in cocktail dresses. Some select suits or dresses which they consider appropriate for the occasion. The wise Sir Knight judiciously avoids any attempt to dictating to the ladies, especially in an area in which the ladies are better equipped to decide.
- New Uniform
- Consists of:
- Official Navy Blazer*
- Official Charcoal Slacks*
- Official 4th Degree Tie*
- Official Beret*
- Official Fourth Degree Lapel Pin (#PG-113)*
- Plain White Dress Shirt
- Black Socks
- Plain Black Shoes
- All (*) items above must be purchased via Knights Gear – personal substitutions (slacks, blazer) are not allowed.
- Photos of New Uniform:
- What this means for Candidates attending the Exemplification
- A Third Degree Knight seeking to attend an Exemplification will no longer be required to purchase or rent a tuxedo. A Candidate for the Fourth Degree attending an Exemplification will only be required to wear a dark suit (black, brown, charcoal or navy – as long as it is dark)
- What this means for Assemblies and Color Corps
- Old Regalia (Chapeau, Cape, Tux) can still be used, but over the next 18 months, it is expected that Assemblies will have started to phase out the old regalia.
- Processions will have Old Regalia in front, followed by New Uniform (as seen at the Supreme Convention)
- Old Regalia (Chapeau, Cape, Tux) should no longer be purchased. Anyone considering joining the Color Corps should purchase the new Uniform from KnightsGear.com
From the Supreme Website (http://www.kofc.org/en/news/releases/new-fourth-degree-uniform-faq.html)
Earlier this month, the Knights of Columbus board of directors unanimously voted to adopt a new uniform for the Fourth Degree. The decision was made with the good of the entire Order in mind. While we understand that some members may prefer the old regalia, the Supreme Master and Vice Supreme Masters urge all Fourth Degree members to put the good of the Order before any personal preference. The board decided to make this move based on the following factors:
- the aging of our Fourth Degree membership
- the slow growth of the Fourth Degree (fewer than 20 percent of Knights are Fourth Degree members, and only a fraction of that number even serve as honor guards)
- consistent reports that the old regalia presented a barrier to Fourth Degree membership, especially among younger men
The following FAQ should answer many of the questions that have arisen concerning this change.
Q: Will the new uniform allow the use of ceremonial swords?
A: Yes. Ceremonial swords will continue to be part of the Fourth Degree. When swords are used, gloves should also be used. (see picture on web page).
Q: How will rank be distinguished?
A: Colored patches will be worn on the beret behind the Fourth Degree emblem as follows:
- Dark Blue Supreme Master
- Light Blue Vice Supreme Masters
- Gold District Masters
- White Faithful Navigators
- Green District Marshals
- Purple Color Corp Commanders
Those not holding office (who formerly wore red capes) will wear berets with no patch.
Q: Will there be discounts offered on the new uniform?
A: Yes. The Order will subsidize the new uniform with a 25 percent discount offered to all members who order the new uniform prior to Sept. 30, 2017.
Q: What if a member just purchased the old regalia?
Q: Is the Order making money on the new uniform?
A: No, the uniform is being sold at (or sometimes below) our cost.
Q: Was the new uniform field tested prior to its release?
A: Yes. The new uniform was field tested by Fourth Degree members attending the Warriors to Lourdes pilgrimage.
Q: Can the old regalia still be worn?
A: Yes, for a time. While the preference is for the new uniform wherever possible, the old regalia can still be worn until the end of the current fraternal year (June 30, 2018). After that date, only the new uniform should be worn.
Q: Who made this decision?
A: The board of directors made this decision earlier this year after a three year period of testing and discussion. In addition, changing the uniform/regalia was previously discussed with the vice supreme masters at the Supreme Assembly.
Q: Did members have input on this?
A: For years, supreme officers and directors have received comments from members and prospective members that the old regalia was a barrier to membership overall, or to membership in the Fourth Degree.
Q: In what context should this change best be understood?
A: During the convention, the Good of the Order Committee stated: “We commend all of the faithful Sir Knights who have proudly worn the Fourth Degree regalia, bringing much respect to the Order. With the new Fourth Degree uniform, recently approved by the Board of Directors, this honor and respect associated with Sir Knights will remain, and it will open the door more widely for a new generation to join their ranks. In a spirit of unity, let us assist with a smooth transition to this new uniform and encourage it to be worn with great dignity and pride.”
The Knights of Columbus is a Fraternal organization. With Fraternity as one of its cardinal virtues, the support and assistance of member in times of illness is of major importance. Should illness strike your Sir Knight, you ladies or other family members, are requested to notify one of the Fourth Degree members or your acquaintance, of the fact immediately. Other member will be then advised and will be asked to remember their Brother in their prayers, to visit him, and to offer any needed assistance. This, of course, always has a cheering effect on the ailing member.
It is important that notification be made to a member of the assembly, as soon as possible, by some member of their family. That is the only way that other Sir Knights can be made aware of their Brother's illness.
Death comes to all men, but one of the great consolations of our Catholic faith is that death is a beginning, not an end. The chief aim of fraternalism, in this respect, is the consolation of the bereaved. The Knights of Columbus offer certain rites in connection with the death of a member, designed to remind the living of the Promise of the Resurrection and to demonstrate the esteem in which the deceased is held by the fraternity. The following are some steps which should be taken by a member of the deceased Sir Knight's family upon the death of the Sir Knight.
- Each Assembly has a member, usually the Fraternal Chairman, whose responsibility it is to maintain close contact with the family of the deceased Sir Knight during the period immediately following the death. His name and telephone number should be published in the assembly newsletter. He is the Fourth Degree Representative, and should be notified of the death of a Sir Knight as soon as possible. He, in turn, will notify the proper persons. If the family so wishes, the Fourth Degree Representative will also assist in the following measures.
- If it is in keeping with the wishes of the family, arrangements should be made with the funeral director to have the deceased Sir Knight attired in the uniform of the Fourth Degree and a proper notification to his Brother Sir Knights be included in the death notice in the newspaper.
- Fourth Degree members of the Assembly will mount an Honor Guard, "Watch of the Dead" at the wake. One Sir Knight stands at the head of the casket and one at the foot during the wake. The Guard is change at regular intervals.
- Following the wake services, a certificate of condolence is presented to the widow or a member of the family, expressing the sense of loss shared by the assembly and the bereaved family.
- Subject to availability, and at the request of the family of the deceased, Fourth Degree Knights will serve as pallbearers. Such request should be made through the Fourth Degree Representative, who will assist the family in securing the active pallbearers. Active pallbearers will wear the uniform of the Fourth Degree minus the sword.
- At the conclusion of the graveside rites, or at some other appropriate time during the wake or funeral, the sword of the deceased Sir Knight will be presented to one of the sons of the deceased [usually the eldest], or the widow or nearest relative in a appropriate ceremony. The Faithful Navigator, Color Corp Commander or some other designated officer will make the presentation.
In all its programs and activities the Fourth Degree delights in the cooperation and company of the ladies. Only the actual business sessions and exemplifications are closed meetings. The Fourth Degree depends on the wives and ladies of its members to encourage and assist the Sir Knight in their duties and responsibilities as member, so that each member will realize his full potential as a member of this fraternal society, and as a member of the Mystical Body of Christ.
We ask for full and complete assistance of our ladies in our endeavors and we hope your association, and that of your Sir Knight, with the Fourth Degree result in many hours and year of fulfillment and enrichment and that it will also be socially rewarding.