Supreme Office of Knights of Columbus
Council of Ontario nights of Columbus
Overview of the Fourth
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 Colour 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 of 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, currently Sir Knight Lawrence G. Contanzo of Arizona. 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 Province of Ontario is within the Cardinal McGuigan Province*, which is comprised of the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba with a combined total of approximately ; 9 Districts; 125 Assemblies; and 11,250 Fourth Degree Knights. The Vice Supreme Master Brendan Saunders 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.
* (Within the KofC organization, the 3rd degree uses "STATE" as the geographical boundaries (location) of Councils, whereas the 4th Degree uses the term "PROVINCE" as the boundary of Assemblies even within the U.S.A.)
Each Province is divided into Districts. The First Ontario District to which we belong is within the Cardinal McGuigan Province. Districts are placed under the leadership of a Master. Sir Knight Norman Fontaine of Cornwall is currently master of the First Ontario District. 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. There are two Districts in Ottawa; the First Ontario District to which we belong, and the Sixth Ontario District comprising Assemblies from the French sector of Ottawa.
The Presiding Officer of the Assembly is called a Faithful Navigator, who wears a white Cape and Chapeau. He is assisted by a Captain and a Pilot, which are similar to the offices of Deputy Grand Knight and Warden on a council level. The fourth Chair Officer is the 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 Friar, The Purser, The Scribe, The Comptroller, The Sentinels (Two or three in number), and The Trustees (Three in number).
The Colour Corps of each Assembly is trained and drilled by a Colour 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, in green, is in charge of the Colour Corps and may be assisted by one or more Colour Corps Commanders. Other members of the Colour Corps wear red Capes and white Chapeaux.
To be eligible to become a Fourth Degree member you must be a member in good standing, in the Knights of Columbus and currently a registered member in good standing of the Third Degree. You must be sponsored by a Sir Knight in the assembly you wish to join. Exemplifications are usually held only once or twice a year in each district, normally in October and April.
As a First or Second Degree member, you are a "Member" of The Knights of Columbus. After the Ceremonies of the Third Degree, you become a full fledged Knight in the Order. After the Exemplification of The Fourth Degree you are a complete Knight in the Knights of Columbus and addressed as Sir Knight. Only Sir Knights are accorded the honour of The Colour Corps at their wake and funeral Mass.
If you are interested in becoming a Fourth Degree Knight, see your council representative for an application and full details. You may also contact the Bishop John Beahen Membership Chairman who is usually our current Faithful Admiral or the Faithful Navigator, (SEE WEB SITE) or you may visit the other pages of our web site for more information.
The colours of the symbols are:
· A Blue Globe with the lands of the Western Hemisphere in White
· A Red Cross with gold borders, and gold knobs at the ends of the Cross
· A White Dove.
Red, White, and Blue are the colours of the flag of the country in which our Order originated; and are used to stress the basic principle of the Fourth Degree: Patriotism The colours Red and white are the colours in the Canadian flag.
IN AUGUST OF 2017 the Supreme Council announced a major change in uniform for the 4th Degree.
The uniform heretofore will consist of: blue blazer, grey trousers, blue 4th degree tie, white shirt and beret.
Current uniform can be worn during the next year and swords will be allowed..
The Fourth Degree Colour Corps
The Colour Corps of the Knights of Columbus are the uniformed members of the Fourth Degree. They are the ones that are most noticeable at church and public functions, parades, etc. They actually consist of two parts:
· the Colour Guard and
· the Honour Guard
Honour Guardsmen are those members who have mastered the Manual of the Sword. All others are Colour Guard.
The Corps basically follows a Naval theme with ranks and insignia. Note that the chapeaux, which are never called hats, are similar to the old naval uniforms.
Cape colours are an indication of rank.
· Vice Supreme Masters wear blue capes and chapeaux.
· Masters wear gold capes and chapeaux.
· District Marshals (District level Colour Corps Commanders) wear green capes and chapeaux.
· Faithful navigators (whether a member of the corps or not) wear white capes and chapeaux.
· Commanders wear purple capes and chapeaux.
· Other Colour Corps Members wear red capes and chapeaux.
Within the local assemblies, the Master more or less sets the rules. In Assembly 2230, the highest ranking Colour Corps member is called Commander; some areas call him by other ranks such as Commodore.
Former Vice Supreme Masters, Former
Masters, and Past Faithful
Navigators are all permitted to wear their respective capes and
when they finish their term of office.
If you are presently a member of the 4th Degree and would be interested in joining the Colour Corps please visit our web site under Officers.