Brother Knights,Brother Knights,
The Fourth Degree, also known as the Patriotic Degree, is the highest degree of the Knights of Columbus, and it exists to foster the spirit of patriotism, enlightened by our Catholic Faith. It is a rewarding way to combine our Catholic heritage with our love of our country.
The Fourth Degree is patriotism in action, i.e. Honor guards at Mass for confirmations, funerals, and memorial services, in addition to Color Corps representation at federal, state and local ceremonies, such as parades and wreath-laying ceremonies. The Fourth Degree is a visible reminder of our service to the community.
History of the Fourth Degree
In 1886, four years after our Order was established, Supreme Knight James T. Mullen proposed the patriotic degree and the Supreme Board of Directors approved the formation of the Fourth Degree in 1899. Along with the addition of “patriotism” to the Knights’ principles in 1900 came the first exemplification of the Fourth Degree which was held on February 22, 1900 in New York City with a class of 1,100 Knights.
The Fourth Degree is currently organized into 21 geographical units known as provinces. Our province consists of the states of Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia, and is referred to as the Father Edward F. Sorin, C.S.C. Province. The executive officer of the Fourth Degree is the Supreme Master.
The executive officer of the province is the Vice Supreme Master. A province is further divided into districts, which normally (with few exceptions) coincide with state boundaries. Each district is presided over by an executive officer, the Master. Currently, there are 122 districts.
The Fourth Degree is the Patriotic Degree of the Knights of Columbus, and it comprises over 17% of the membership of the Order. The distinctive regalia of Sir Knights make them the most visible arm of the Order to the public.
Purpose of the Fourth Degree
- 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 these five objectives.