There are four "Degrees" of Knighthood within the Knights of Columbus. The initiation ceremonies into each of these Degrees (the ceremonies themselves are also called "Degrees") are the only facets of the Order which are not made known to non-members. Each of the Degrees is designed to exemplify one of the four Principals of the Order: Charity, Unity, Fraternity and Patriotism. The Degrees must be taken in order.
Every applicant must take the First, or Membership, Degree before he can be considered a Member of the Knights of Columbus. Once he has taken his First Degree, he becomes a member in good standing in the Order. To reach full Knighthood, members must also take the Second and Third Degrees, and all members are strongly encouraged to do so. Members must have taken the Third degree to be elected to Council offices or to enter into the Fourth Degree.
Once a man has been a member of the Knights of Columbus for a year and has taken his Third Degree, he is eligible to join a Fourth Degree Assembly. The Fourth Degree has its own structure separate from that of the Council. Fourth Degree Assemblies gain their membership from Third Degree members of several Councils within a larger geographic area. The most visible members of the Order are often the Fourth Degree Color Corps, with their colorful capes, chapeaux and sabers.
The first and second degrees of the Knights are based education lectures.
The first degree teaches the main lesson of Charity, and also emphasizes the mortality of the body as a opposed to the immortality of the soul. Here the candidate is first introduced to the concept of secrecy, and promises not to reveal the ceremonials, except to a priest when necessary. The secrecy is intended to prevent an impostor from gaining aid from the Order, the candidate is taught.
The third degree begins by testing the candidates on their knowledge of the tenets of Catholicism; it is not unlike a sunday-school catechism quiz. Their knightly virtues (Charity, Unity and Fraternity) are then put to a practical test that teaches them that it is the Catholic nature of a man that matters, not the outward trappings of his career, special needs, or ethnic background.
The primary purpose of the Fourth Degree is to foster the spirit of patriotism by promoting responsible citizenship and a love of and loyalty to the Knights' respective countries through active membership in local Fourth Degree groups (called "assemblies"). Certain members of the Fourth Degree serve as honor guards at civic and religious functions, an activity that has brought worldwide recognition to the Knights of Columbus.
The Fourth, or patriotic, degree, is divided into Assemblies and serves as the uniformed body of the Knights that is usually seen in parades. Requirements for taking the fourth degree are that the Knight has been a third degree member for at least one year, is in good standing, and shows a high willingness to proclaim his patriotism. The fourth degree consists primarily of lectures designed to impart an appreciation for the contribution of Catholics to American history, and to express the importance of American liberty to Catholics. This is usually followed by celebration of the Mass, and a banquet held in honor of the new Worthy Sir Knights, who wear tuxedos and a red, white and blue baldric (or sword belt) draped from right shoulder to left hip. This is the distinctive uniform of the Assembly, worn with honor and grace.
Our parent Assembly is Father Nicholas J. Habets Assembly 1505 located on Prosperity Road