Father Michael J. McGivney

Father Michael J. McGivney (August 12, 1852 - August 14, 1890) was a Roman Catholic priest and founder of the Knights of Columbus.

Father McGivney entered St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland in 1873, and was ordained a priest in 1877. On February 2, 1882, while an assistant pastor at Saint Mary's Church in New Haven, Connecticut, McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus with a small group of parishiners. Fr. McGivney died in 1890, at the age of 38.

In 1996, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford opened an investigation into Father McGivney's life, with a stated goal of his beatification and canonization, or membership in the sainthood. The diocesan investigation was closed in 2000, and the case was passed to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Holy See.

In honor of him, the York Catholic District School Board in Ontario, Canada has founded a school named Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy in 1989. It is located in Markham and currently houses 1100 students. Though the first councils were all in New England, the Order soon spread throughout the United States in the following years.  Today the Order has active councils in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Philippines.

 Fr. McGivney founded the Knights at a time when Catholics were regularly excluded from the unions and men's organizations that provided social support services. The organization was also intended to provide an alternative for Catholics to membership in a Masonic Lodge, which was discouraged by the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy and banned by Pope Leo XIII in 1884 because in Catholicism they believed Freemasonry to be anti-Catholic. The naming of the order after Columbus was partially intended as a mild ridicule of Anglo-Saxon Protestantism Protestant leaders of the day, who upheld the explorer (an Italian working for Catholic Spain) as an American hero, yet simultaneously sought to marginalize recent Catholic immigrants.

 The Knights of Columbus today is a multi-million dollar non-profit charitable organization. Knights may be seen distributing Tootsie Rolls to raise funds to fight mental illness, volunteering for the Special Olympics and other charitable organizations, erecting Pro-Life billboards and "Keep Christ in Christmas" signs, conducting blood drives and raising funds for disaster victims, or parading at patriotic events with their bright capes, feathered chapeaux, and ceremonial swords. The Knights of Columbus also provide annual funding for the satellite uplink of the Pope's worldwide Christmas address. In many countries that cannot afford satellite downlink, the Order often pays for this as well.

Knights of Columbus
 "Third Degree" Logo


The governing body of the Knights of Columbus is the "Supreme Council", a body composed of elected representatives from each jurisdiction of the Order. This body acts in similar manner to the shareholders at an annual meeting, and elects each year eight directors to the board for a three year term. The twenty-four member Board of Directors then chooses from its own membership the senior operating officials of the Order, including the Supreme Knight. The current Supreme Knight is Carl Anderson.

Hierarchy descending from the Supreme Knight include State Deputies leading State Councils in each geographical state in the United States, each province in Canada and other jurisdictions carved out of member countries and territories; Territorial Deputies leading areas not yet incorporated into State Councils; District Deputies overseeing several Councils; and a Grand Knight heading each local Council in a specific geographic area. Councils are numbered in the order in which they chartered into the organization and are named by the local membership. San Salvador Council #1, in New Haven, Connecticut, still exists today. The Knights have ceremonial uniforms, and a variety of closed-door rituals and traditions.

A similar organisation exists in Ireland and in areas of Catholic concentration in Scotland, particularly Glasgow, known as the Knights of Columbanus after the Irish saint Columbanus, also known as Columban. The Ancient Order of Hibernians is another allied Catholic fraternal organization active in North America.

Although the members are called "Knights", this title is purely fraternal, and is not the equivalent to a sovereign accolade. Therefore "Knights" of Columbus do not rank with the Chevaliers and Commanders of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, the Order of Malta, the Order of St. Gregory the Great, and other historic military/religious orders.


 Insurance program

Many early members were recent immigrants, often living in unsanitary conditions, and performing hazardous jobs for poor pay. Since its founding, a primary mission of the Knights of Columbus has been to protect families against the financial ruin caused by the death of the breadwinner. Today the Order achieves this by offering an optional insurance program to its members. Products include permanent life insurance, term life insurance, annuities, and long term care insurance.

 Political activities

Councils are prohibited from engaging in candidate endorsement and partisan political activity. Public policy activity is limited to issue-specific campaigns, typically dealing with Catholic family and life issues. In the United States, the Knights of Columbus adopts many socially conservative positions on many public issues, campaigning against abortion, same-sex marriage, and attempts by the courts to restrict religious expression in public schools, government, and voluntary organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America. In 1954, lobbying by the organization convinced the U.S. Congress to add the phrase "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance recited daily by many American schoolchildren. In February 2005, the Canadian organization of Knights of Columbus funded a postcard campaign in an attempt to stop the Canadian parliament from legalizing gay marriage. The Knights of Columbus have also officially released, on their own website, support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages.

The Fourth Degree

Overview of the Fourth Degree

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, currently Sir Knight Charles Foos. Administratively, the Fourth Degree is divided into areas called Provinces. 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 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 he wears.


Each Province is divided into Districts. Districts are placed under the leadership of a Master. 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. A Captain and a Pilot, which are similar to the offices of Deputy Grand Knight and Warden on a council level, assist him. The fourth Chair Officer is the Admiral, always 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 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, in green, 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 for one year, and you must be sponsored by a Sir Knight. Exemplifications are usually held only once or twice a year in each district, normally in September in the Archdiocese of Texas District.

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 in The Knights of Columbus. 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 honor of The Color Corps at their wake or Funeral Mass. The names of deceased Sir Knights are engraved on a Chalice or Ciborium that is presented to a new Priest or Seminarian at the Ceremony of the Chalice during the Assembly's Annual Memorial Mass.

Remember, that you have to be at least a 3rd degree in order to be a council officer. 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 Chancellor Robbie Abbott, Membership Chairman; Grand Knight, Jim Kraus; Deputy Grand Knight, Chip Gary; or Financial Secretary, Steve Bichler.
The Emblem of the Fourth Degree

The Triad Emblem of the Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus features:

  • The Dove
  • The Cross
  • The Globe

The Dove, the classic symbol of the Holy Spirit and Peace, is shown hovering over the orb of the Earth or Globe. Both are mounted on a variation of the Crusader's cross, that which was found on the tunics and capes of the Crusading Knights who battled to regain the Holy Land.

Our Honored Order cherishes as its patron Christopher (Christ Bearer) Columbus (Dove of Peace), symbolizing the Paraclete.

Spiritually, the sacred symbols on the emblem typify the Union of the Three Divine Persons in one Godhead...the most blessed Trinity.

The Globe... God the Father, Creator of the Universe
The Cross...God the Son, Redeemer of Mankind
The Dove...God the Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of Humanity


The colors 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 colors of the flag of the country in which our Order originated; and are used to stress the basic principle of the Fourth Degree: Patriotism

***Note: *** (Often asked question)

When you become a 4th Degree you are not automatically in The Color Corp.

The Color Guard or Honor Guard is an option. If you decide you would like to be a member of the Corp, speak with your assemblies Commander or Faithful Navigator. They would love to have you and they do stay very busy.

All 4th Degrees: Our Lady of Guadalupe Province Assembly 2266 is our councils’ assembly.

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