Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 15, 2000
The Knights' ceremonial side
By GLEN ARGAN
What the Shriners are to the Masons, the fourth degree is to the Knights of Columbus.
The main work of the Knights is done in the third degree, but the fourth degree is the ceremonial arm of the order, says Bill Tymensen of Lethbridge, master of the fourth degree in Alberta and the Northwest Territories for the past four years.
"I've liked the Knights from day one and I've stayed with it," says Tymensen, a knight since 1961 and a fourth degree member since 1969. He's served as grand knight in Lethbridge Council 1490, district deputy and a board member of the Knights' Charitable Foundation for Alberta. He has also attended 28 state conventions.
In the fourth degree, he was faithful navigator (leader) of the Father Lacombe Assembly in Lethbridge before serving as its faithful comptroller for 14 years.
Since becoming master for the 21 fourth degree assemblies in 1996, Tymensen estimates he has travelled 80,000 km across the province and up to Yellowknife.
With his wife Myrna, "we have travelled every mile together," he says. "She is a great supporter of me."
When a man becomes a knight, he is initiated into the first three degrees, which exemplify the virtues of charity, unity and fraternity. Only about 15 per cent of knights go on to take the fourth degree - patriotism.
Indeed, the fourth degree was slow in developing. Although the order was founded in 1882, the fourth degree did not start until 1900. Even then, for the first several years, the fourth degree did little other than initiate third degree members into their ranks. But eventually local assemblies began meeting and taking on works that exemplify the spirit of patriotism.
Still it's the fourth degree knights - known as sir knights - who are the most visible side of the order, clad in their swords, capes and chapeaux. One sees their honour guards at major Church and civic celebrations.
"I has a bit of pomp to it," says Tymensen. "We sir knights are soldiers of Christ who bear the sword to strengthen our love for Church and country."
The fourth degree provides light lunches at citizenship courts when new Canadians take up their citizenship. They march in Canada Day parades in their full regalia. They lay wreaths at cenotaphs on Remembrance Day. And they hold social events with the Shriners.
The fourth degree assemblies do not normally do much fundraising. But when a sir knight dies, his assembly donates a chalice in his name to the widow to be presented to a priest.
For social occasions, a sir knight wears a black tuxedo, white shirt, black tie, black shoes and socks, black cummerbund or vest, and a baldric. In warmer months, a white dinner jacket is acceptable attire.
When they join the fourth degree, they pay a $65 membership fee. Most of the sir knights buy the full regalia - sword, chapeau and cape - which runs about $600.
Since its beginnings in 1900, the fourth degree has spread across Canada, the U.S. the Philippines, Mexico, Panama and Guatemala. The first Alberta assemblies were established in Calgary and Edmonton on Oct. 8, 1927.
The 21st assembly was set up May 6 in Airdrie. As well that day, more than 50 new sir knights were initiated in Edmonton, bringing the total in the jurisdiction up to nearly 1,800.
Tymensen was in Edmonton for the initiation - the only part of Knights' business that is strictly secret. He also came to Edmonton Nov. 15, 1969 when he was initiated into the fourth degree.
He has found a lot of satisfaction from being a knight.
"You are dealing with honourable people and with the Church," he says. "There is great satisfaction to meet these people and talk to them."