The “primary mission” of the Fourth Degree Knights is to bring unity, brotherhood, mentorship to Catholic men
By Andrew Fowler
Catholic patriotism is “needed now more than perhaps during any other time” in the nation’s history, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson told attendees at the 110th Supreme Assembly Annual Meeting, which was held virtually on Sept. 22.
He stressed that members of the Fourth Degree, also known as the Patriotic Degree, must serve as mentors and role models for young Catholic men during these times.
“Many of our communities are being torn apart and they’ve lost a sense of brotherhood, lost a sense of unity, lost a sense of patriotism and what unites us as citizens,” Supreme Knight Anderson said. “This must be our mission: to call, especially Catholic men, back to a sense of brotherhood and unity. To me, this is the primary mission of the Fourth Degree.”
The Supreme Assembly, which oversees the Fourth Degree, met under the leadership of Supreme Master Dennis Stoddard. During the meeting, the attendees discussed opportunities for welcoming more Knights into the Fourth Degree, as well as implementing patriotic mentorship for Hispanic Catholics, Native American Catholics and other minorities.
Supreme Knight Anderson said the miracle attributed to K of C founder Father Michael J. McGivney, recently recognized by Pope Francis, is a “clear sign from heaven” about the importance, relevancy and necessity of the Knights of Columbus in today’s culture.
“In the year in which we have such a divinely-inspired sign from heaven to us, this is the year we must grow,” he said. “This is the year we must have the courage to tackle the tough issues. This is the year we have to do the hard and necessary work that only Catholic men can do — and I believe that only the Knights of Columbus can do.”
The supreme knight also compared recent desecration and vandalism of Catholic churches to the discrimination faced by the Irish-Catholics who formed the Knights of Columbus under Father McGivney’s leadership in the late 19th century.
“They knew the value of religious freedom and of being a respected citizen with full rights of citizenship,” Supreme Knight Anderson said. “When we look around today, we see a similar need for Catholics to have their religious liberty respected, to have their churches, statues and religious symbols respected and protected.”
Patriotism has been one of the four principles of the Knights of Columbus since the Fourth Degree was established in 1900. The Fourth Degree consists of Knights who have the special honor of holding the title “Sir Knight,” participating in color and honor guards, and organizing programs that promote Catholic citizenship. When taking the Fourth Degree, Knights become part of a Fourth Degree Assembly in their area. There are more than 3,500 Fourth Degree assemblies around the world.
The Supreme Assembly recognized several assemblies who exemplified the patriotic duty Knights strive for in their communities with the “To Be A Patriot Award.” The recipients were:
Jackson Area Assembly 2186 in Jackson, Mich., partnered with the VFW and American Legion to erect a monument honoring veterans as part of their “That They Never Be Forgotten Program.” The Fourth Degree followed the dedication ceremony and memorial service by assembling at the local cemetery to read the names of deceased service members.
Monsignor Bruno Hubertus Assembly 1791 in New Braunfels, Texas, hosted the “Helping Combat Veterans” event, which focused on identifying and providing healing for moral injuries that veterans may have incurred on the battlefield. The event was held at the Lackland Air Force Base and attended by more than 150 active duty and retired military personnel.
Father Joseph O’Callahan, SJ Assembly 2820 in Las Vegas, Nev., partnered with the Forgotten-Not-Gone Veterans Organization — an organization that focuses on helping suffering veterans through physical activity and interacting with society — to fundraise for velocycles, which are three to four-wheel bicycles. The Knights volunteered more than 600 hours of service towards this program.
To learn more about the Fourth Degree members of the Knights of Columbus, click here.
Originally published in a weekly edition of Knightline, a resource for K of C leaders and members. To access Knightline’s archives, click here. Share your story with Knightline by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.