“Throughout the history of the Fourth Degree, its official regalia has changed with the times. In 1940, the white tie, tails and top hat changed to the tuxedo, chapeau and cape that we know so well. And in 1981 different colored capes and chapeaus were officially recognized. This fraternal year we make another historic change. The Board of Directors has decided that the time is right for a modernization of the Fourth Degree Uniform. This morning at the Opening Mass of our Supreme Convention our Vice Supreme Masters processed in wearing the new uniform of the Fourth Degree. Beginning today the Uniform of the Fourth Degree is a blue blazer with Fourth Degree Emblem, dark-gray slacks, a blue Fourth Degree tie, white shirt, and a black beret with the Fourth Degree Emblem. On a limited basis, Assemblies may choose to continue using the traditional cape and chapeau for Color Corps at public events and Honor Guards in Liturgical Processions. However the preferred dress for the Fourth Degree, including Color Corps and Honor Guards, is the new Uniform of jacket and beret.”
The new uniform is part of a comprehensive and necessary effort to keep our Order relevant and attractive to men, particularly younger men.
In light of this significant change, I thought it would be helpful to address some of the questions that have been asked about the new uniform.
- The cape and chapeau, while popular among some Fourth Degree members, have become dated and are increasingly cited as a reason that eligible Catholic men, especially young men, do not join the Knights of Columbus.
- Today there are nearly 2 million members of the Order, but only 358,000 of them are Fourth Degree Knights — less than 20 percent. The old regalia was one reason often given by brother Knights for why they did not want to advance to the Fourth Degree.
- We understand that some Fourth Degree members are fond of the old regalia. The cape and chapeau regalia will still be allowed, for a time, in those assemblies and districts that wish to use it, though the preference is for the new uniform.
- Ceremonial swords will continue to be part of the Fourth Degree.
- The new uniform is designed to be much more versatile than the older regalia and can be worn at a much wider range of functions.
- Our choice of uniform, while important, has always been ancillary to the work we do carrying out the principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism, and this should always be the case.
We have been testing the new uniform over the past year with key groups of Knights, including those brother Knights who participate in our annual Warriors to Lourdes Pilgrimage. The feedback we received from these groups has been very positive.
During the convention, the Good of the Order Committee spoke in words I wish to make my own:
“We commend all of the faithful Sir Knights who have proudly worn the Fourth Degree regalia, bringing much respect to the Order. With the new Fourth Degree uniform, recently approved by the Board of Directors, this honor and respect associated with Sir Knights will remain, and it will open the door more widely for a new generation to join their ranks. In a spirit of unity, let us assist with a smooth transition to this new uniform and encourage it to be worn with great dignity and pride.”
Carl A. Anderson
FAQ’s Regarding the New Uniform
From the Knights of Columbus website: http://www.kofc.org/en/news/releases/new-fourth-degree-uniform-faq.html
Answers to frequently asked questions about the new Fourth Degree uniform
Earlier this month, the Knights of Columbus board of directors unanimously voted to adopt a new uniform for the Fourth Degree. 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.
The board decided to make this move based on the following factors:
- the aging of our Fourth Degree membership
- the slow growth of the Fourth Degree (fewer than 20 percent of Knights are Fourth Degree members, and only a fraction of that number even serve as honor guards)
- consistent reports that the old regalia presented a barrier to Fourth Degree membership, especially among younger men
The following FAQ should answer many of the questions that have arisen concerning this change.
Q: Will the new uniform allow the use of ceremonial swords?
A: Yes. Ceremonial swords will continue to be part of the Fourth Degree. When swords are used, gloves should also be used. (see picture above).
Q: How will rank be distinguished?
A: Colored patches will be worn on the beret behind the Fourth Degree emblem as follows:
- Dark Blue Supreme Master
- Light Blue Vice Supreme Masters
- Gold District Masters
- White Faithful Navigators
- Green District Marshals
- Purple Color Corp Commanders
Those not holding office (who formerly wore red capes) will wear berets with no patch.
Q: Will there be discounts offered on the new uniform?
A: Yes. The Order will subsidize the new uniform with a 25 percent discount offered to all members who order the new uniform prior to Sept. 30, 2017.
Q: What if a member just purchased the old regalia?
A: Any member who purchased the old regalia after May 1, 2017, can submit their receipt along with their member number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Information will then be sent to that member on how to receive a $200 credit toward the new uniform.
Q: Is the Order making money on the new uniform?
A: No, the uniform is being sold at (or sometimes below) our cost.
Q: Was the new uniform field tested prior to its release?
A: Yes. The new uniform was field tested by Fourth Degree members attending the Warriors to Lourdes pilgrimage.
Q: Can the old regalia still be worn?
A: Yes, for a time. While the preference is for the new uniform wherever possible, the old regalia can still be worn until the end of the current fraternal year (June 30, 2018). After that date, only the new uniform should be worn.
Q: Who made this decision?
A: The board of directors made this decision earlier this year after a three year period of testing and discussion. In addition, changing the uniform/regalia was previously discussed with the vice supreme masters at the Supreme Assembly.
Q: Did members have input on this?
A: For years, supreme officers and directors have received comments from members and prospective members that the old regalia was a barrier to membership overall, or to membership in the Fourth Degree.
Q: In what context should this change best be understood?
A: During the convention, the Good of the Order Committee stated: “We commend all of the faithful Sir Knights who have proudly worn the Fourth Degree regalia, bringing much respect to the Order. With the new Fourth Degree uniform, recently approved by the Board of Directors, this honor and respect associated with Sir Knights will remain, and it will open the door more widely for a new generation to join their ranks. In a spirit of unity, let us assist with a smooth transition to this new uniform and encourage it to be worn with great dignity and pride.”