The next time the Knights of Columbus provide a color guard at a parish or diocesan ceremony or liturgical function, the faithful might be doing a double take. In August, the Knights of Columbus announced that the fraternity’s board of directors adopted by unanimous vote a new uniform for the Fourth Degree.
According to an August 14 statement at the Knights of Columbus website, “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.”
Knights are permitted to wear the Fourth Degree uniform when they have reached the highest levels of the Knights of Columbus, are at least 18 years of age, and have been a Third Degree member in good standing.
The decision was based on three leading factors, the Knights of Columbus statement noted—an aging Fourth Degree membership, slow growth in the Fourth Degree (fewer than 20 percent of Knights are Fourth Degree and fewer than that serve as honor guards), and consistent reports that the old uniforms were not appealing to young men who might otherwise consider Fourth Degree membership.
While the uniform will be changing, other aspects of the regalia will remain the same, the Knights of Columbus statement added, such as the ceremonial swords, which Fourth Degree members will continue to bear during ceremonies and liturgical events.
The old uniforms will be phased out by June 30, 2018, the Knights of Columbus report.