The Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus was built on the principle of Patriotism — love for and devotion to one’s country. The most visible aspect is the Color Corps. At a National Council meeting in 1899, it was determined that an additional ceremonial degree was needed that would represent patriotism. The initial Exemplification, as the initiation ceremony is called, was held on February 22, 1900. It was scheduled to be in the Astor Hotel; however, when the class reached in excess of 1,100 candidates, it was moved to the Lenox Lyceum, a temporary wooden structure.
Members were originally part of local councils, but in 1910 a restructuring of the order separated them and called the groups Assemblies. In 1997 with a view toward the formation or more assemblies, the Supreme Council determined that there should be no more than eight member councils per assembly.
The Chain of Command is similar to that of the lower degrees, but with different titles. At the Supreme level, the top man is the Supreme Master. Administratively, the Fourth Degree is divided into areas called Provinces. A Vice Supreme Master is appointed by the Supreme Board of Directors for each of the Fourth Degree Provinces in the Order. At the present time there are 20 Provinces in the Order, with 14 being in the United States, 4 in Canada, 1 in Mexico, and 1 in the Philippine Islands. The state of Illinois is within the Marquette Province, which is comprised of the states of Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The Vice Supreme Master is the head of all Fourth Degree matters within the Province and exercises general supervision over all Masters and Assemblies located in the Province. The Vice Supreme Master is responsible to the Supreme Master and the Supreme Board of Directors. The Vice Supreme Master is distinguishable at Fourth Degree functions and turnouts by the light blue Cape and Chapeau which he wears.
Each Province is divided into Districts. Districts are placed under the leadership of a Master. SK Paul Isherwood is the Master of the Northern Illinois District of which the Bishop Kaffer Assembly is a member. The Master is identified by the gold Cape and Chapeau and is often accompanied by a District Marshall who wears a green Cape and Chapeau.
Districts are made up of Assemblies similar to Councils in structure and operation. Many are named after patriots, war heroes, etc.
The Presiding Officer of the Assembly is called a Faithful Navigator who wears a white Cape and Chapeau. He is assisted by a Faithful Captain and a Faithful Pilot, which are similar to the offices of Deputy Grand Knight and Warden on a council level. The fourth Chair Officer is the Faithful Admiral, usually the immediate Past Faithful Navigator. At a Council level Officers are referred to as Worthy, while at the Assembly level Officers are referred to as Faithful.
The other officers are similar to Council officers and include: The Faithful Friar, The Faithful Purser, The Faithful Scribe, The Faithful Comptroller, The Sentinels (Two or three in number), and The Trustees (Three in number).
The Color Corps of each Assembly is trained and drilled by a Color Corps Commander appointed by the Faithful Navigator. Large Assemblies may have one or more Vice-Commanders. The Commander is identified by the purple or violet Cape and Chapeau. At District Level events, the District Marshall is in charge of the Color Corps and may be assisted by one or more Color Corps Commanders. Other members of the Color Corps wear red Capes and white Chapeaux.
To be eligible to become a Fourth Degree member you must be a Third Degree member in good standing, in the Knights of Columbus and you must be sponsored by a Sir Knight. Exemplifications are twice a year in each district, normally in February and October.
As a First or Second Degree member, you are a “Member” of The Knights of Columbus. After the Ceremonies of the Third Degree you are a “Full” Knight. After the Exemplification of the Fourth Degree you are a “Complete” Knight and addressed as Sir Knight.
Knights are accorded the honor of The Color Corps at their wake or Funeral Mass. In addition to this, the Bishop Kaffer Assembly has a Memorial Crucifix program.
All too often we take for granted that everyone knows what the Knights are about. Many of our brothers Knights do not take the Fourth Degree because they think to participate they must buy the Chapeaux, Cape, Sword & Baldric. Many of our members do not have the regalia, but we all have the same beliefs and that is what we are looking for.
Joining the Fourth Degree is a perfect ending on the road to knighthood, a chance to stand up and be seen as a person of faith and dedication to the church and to your country.
If you are interested in becoming a Fourth Degree Knight, see your council representative for an application and full details. You may also phone or e-mail the Bishop Kaffer Assembly Faithful Navigator, Fred Kunst or the Faithful Comptroller Mike Herbst.
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