Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 17, 2010
Fourth degree stir hearts with their patriotic fervour
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
AIRDRIE - Pride of Church, pride of country and an added touch of dignity are what the fourth degree Knights of Columbus bring to any event.
When a man joins the Knights of Columbus, a first degree exemplification ceremony is held, and he is initiated into the virtue of charity - the foremost principle of the Knights. He is said to be a first degree knight.
After participating in the second and third degrees - which focus on unity and fraternity - he becomes a third degree knight. Third degree knights are considered to be full members.
A knight is eligible to join the fourth degree after six months from the date of his first degree, providing he has completed the second and third degrees.
All knights are encouraged to take the last degree - the fourth degree - and become members of its patriotic arm, the highest and most prestigious degree within the Knights.
"For the council, the motto is charity, unity and fraternity. For the fourth degree, our motto is patriotism," said Larry Boland, from Airdrie, master of Alberta's fourth degree Knights this year.
"We are there to be the colourful arm of the order, and go to Church, social functions and civic functions with the honour guard."
Boland said patriotism and pride in one's nation is the driving force behind more than 300,000 fourth degree members in over 3,000 assemblies. In addition to their love of country, Sir Knights feel a strong obligation to their Church and order.
Growth in the Alberta/Northwest Territories fourth degree is at a steady pace with many younger knights joining and reaping the benefits of fourth degree membership.
Alberta membership in the fourth degree is approximately 2,675, representing about 15 per cent of the province's total Knights of Columbus.
They are the "visible arm" of the Knights, and are probably most known for the honour guard/colour corps regalia or uniform. The cape, naval chapeau, sword and tuxedo were inspired by the naval officers' uniform of the late 1800s.
"The ceremonial sword is worn to signify Christian knighthood, to symbolize defence of Church, country and freedom to show reverence for the Eucharist and respect for clergy," explained Boland.
"When knighthood was in flower, knights carried their sword to defend their God, Church, their country and their fellowman according to the code of chivalry. Today Sir Knights wear regalia and carry swords to honour Christ and his apostles, especially on religious and civic occasions."
Hence, the main purpose of the fourth degree is to encourage active Catholic citizenship and foster the spirit of patriotism in members and the community at large.
"The honour guards will be out to three or four functions per week all throughout the province. We're not there for fundraising," said Boland.
"We are out there to be visible as honour guards, to lead processions in and out of church. We are there on Remembrance Day, and we march in Canada Day parades."
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