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The Patriotic Degree - What is the Fourth Degree

The Fourth Degree is the patriotic arm of the Knights of Columbus. Nearly 300,000 of the Knights 1.7 million members are Fourth Degree Knights. They promote the virtue of patriotism through their programs and provide honor guards for Church and civic functions.

The Fourth Degree was first established in New York on (Washington's Birthday) February 22, 1900. Fourteen hundred members were chosen to witness this ceremony. It was expected that they would recruit from their local councils other Knights worthy of receiving the Orders highest degree. For this purpose, one year after becoming a Knight, a Third Degree member who is an exemplary Catholic and possessed of good, sound citizenship of his country, is eligible to join the Fourth Degree.

The Fourth Degree is frequently regarded as an honorary title with its regalia of tuxedos, capes, chapeaux, and swords, and should rather be thought of in terms of service to church and country. Since its establishment in 1900, the primary objective of this degree is to promote the ideals of Catholicism and Patriotism side by side.

Enrich your commitment to your country and the Order by joining the highest and most prestigious degree in the Knights of Columbus: The Fourth Degree.

By joining the Fourth Degree, you are reaching your highest potential as a Knight of Columbus.

The exemplification of the Fourth Degree with its ritual added patriotism to the three original principles of the Order: charity, unity and fraternity. Any Third Degree member in good standing, one year after the anniversary of his First Degree, is eligible for membership in the Fourth Degree.

Fourth Degree Structure and History

The primary purpose of the Fourth Degree is to foster the spirit of patriotism by promoting responsible citizenship and a love of and loyalty to the Knights' respective countries through active membership in local Fourth Degree groups called assemblies. Fourth Degree members must retain their membership as Third Degree members in the local council to remain in good standing.

The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholic family fraternal service organization. Today there are some 300,000 Fourth Degree Knights out of the total 1.7 million member Knights of Columbus.

Fr. William A. Schmitz Assembly 2258 was established and approved on was instituted in August, 1991 in Kennewick by Henry Therrien, Master of the Western District of Washington. The assembly was named after father William Schmitz, pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Pasco from 1942 until his death in 1970. Father Schmitz was born in Belgium, Wisconsin April 10, 1911; was ordained June 111938. He had various assignments until he was assigned to St. Patrick parish in Pasco April 29, 1942.

The Charter Members and Officers were: Scott A August FP, Joseph G. Balthazor, Francis L. Beaudry TR, Arthur P. Byrne FA, Francis T. Calapristi,  James E. Colvin, George E. Conatore, Jeremiah J. Coughlan, John H. Curran, Daniel A. Danch, James P. Derouin Sr., William T. Dewulf FS, Rev. Desmond P. Dillon, Donald F. Edwards, Billy J. Ellerthorpe, Otto A. Erdman, Leo C. Fangman, Lawrence L. Fortier, David A. Gallant, Karl A. Hadley, Edward H. Heiman Jr., Darrell R. Henn Fcompt, John E Hornstein, Rev. Michael J. Ibach FF, Thom N. Johnson, John P. Kenny, Arthur L. Killian, Thomas E. Lynch TR, Dennis A. Marks, Ramon R. Mata, John W. McDonald, Stuart K. McDowell, James D. Perko, John_F. St. Hilaire FN, Thomas P. St. Hilaire FPR, Ralph Sawyer, Gerald W. Shepherd, Charles R. Smith IS, Michael W. Stricker TR, Edward L. Suhadolnik, Michael E. Thurman, Glenn K. Whitman FC, Roger A. Willis, Kenneth L. Wood FOS, Adam A. Zacher, and William B. Zilar.

The Faithful Navigator is the presiding officer of the Assembly.

Past Faithful Navigators of Fr. William A. Schmitz Assembly 2258 include:

                FN Mark Schouviller 2011-
                PFN Jim Toth 2010-2011
                PFN Karl Hadley 2009-2010               
                PFN Joe Carson- Faithful Navigator  2008 - 2009
                PFN Marcel Bergeron – Faithful Navigator 2007 - 2008
                PFN Dick Peterson – Faithful Navigator 2006 - 2007
                PFN Al Escalera – Faithful Navigator 2005 - 2006
                PFN Mike Spinler – Faithful Navigator 2004 - 2005
                PFN Darrell Henn – Faithful Navigator 2003 - 2004
                PFN Dennis Samson – Faithful Navigator 2002 - 2003
                PFN John Walker – Faithful Navigator 2001  -2002
                PFN Robert McDonald – Faithful Navigator 2000 - 2001
                PFN David Lane – Faithful Navigator 1999 - 2000
                PFN John Verderber – Faithful Navigator 1998  -1999

The Fourth Degree was initially started at a National Council meeting in 1899, when it was determined that an additional ceremonial degree was needed that would represent patriotism.  The initial Exemplification, as the degree 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.  In 1910 a restructuring of the order separated them and called the groups, Assemblies.

Fourth Degree Structure - Starting at the Supreme level there is the Supreme Master and the Supreme Board of Directors. The next level of the structure is broken into provinces of which there are twenty. Each province is lead by a Vice-Supreme Master. The Vice-Supreme Master wears a light blue lined cape and chapeau. There are currently 15 provinces in the United States, 4 in Canada, 1 in Mexico and 1 in the Philippines. List Of Provinces

The province is then broken up into districts. Assembly 2258 is in the Archbishop Norbert Blanchet Province.  Most districts are either an entire State or a section of a larger State (i.e. California  has three districts - North, Central and South). A Master is in charge of a District and wears gold lined cape and chapeau. Master's are responsible for overseeing the Installation of 4th Degree Assembly Officers, The Renewal of Obligations in January, and holding at least one 4th Degree Exemplification each year.

Also a Master usually has a District Marshall to assist him. The District Marshall wears a green lined cape and chapeau. Faithful Navigators wear a white cape and chapeau. The Jewel for the 4th degree officers are suspended from a red, white, and blue ribbon. Each contains the 4th Degree Emblem and title of the Officer's position.

Assemblies are similar to the council, and many are named after patriots, war heroes, etc. The Chair Officers are: the presiding officer called a Navigator, then a Captain, the Pilot, which is the Warden on a council level, and the Admiral, a Past Faithful Navigator. Below is a chart that shows the 4th Degree Assembly Officer's title and the 3rd Degree Council equivalent.

4th Degree Officer Title

3rd Degree Officer Title

Faithful Navigator

Faithful Friar
Faithful Captain
Faithful Admiral
Faithful Pilot
Faithful Scribe
Faithful Comptroller
Faithful Purser
Faithful Inner Sentinel
Faithful Outer Sentinel
Faithful Trustee 3rd Year
Faithful Trustee 2nd Year
Faithful Trustee 1st Year

Worthy Grand Knight

Worthy Chaplain
Worthy Deputy Grand Knight
Worthy Chancellor
Worthy Warden
Worthy Recorder
Worthy Financial Secretary
Worthy Treasurer
Worthy Inside Guard
Worthy Outside Guard
Worthy Trustee 3rd Year
Worthy Trustee 2nd Year
Worthy Trustee 1st Year

Color Corps/Honor Guards - Certain members of the Fourth Degree serve as honor guards at civic and religious functions, an activity which has brought worldwide recognition to the Knights of Columbus organization. Fourth Degree members dress in the recognizable regalia which includes sword and colorful capes and chapeaux. The colors of capes and chapeau worn by the Fourth Degree when in full regalia are as follows:

Vice Supreme Master - Light Blue

District Master - Gold

District Marshal - Green

Color Corps Commander - Purple

Faithful Navigator - White

General Membership - Red Cape/White Plumes

Once a Sir Knight attains an office, he is entitled to wear the colors of that office until elected or appointed to a higher office, except for the Marshal [appointed by the Master of District] and the Color Corps Commanders [appointed by the Faithful Navigator] who are appointed for a specific term and then revert to their previous colors when that term expires. By the way, former VSMs, DMs, and PFNs are all permitted to wear their respective capes and chapeaux when they finish their term of office.

To learn more about the Knights of Columbus visit the Supreme Council's home page. Knights of Columbus - Home

Considered under a religious aspect, we have the honor and privilege of wearing on our sword and our lapels the sacred symbol of the Most Blessed Trinity. This is to always remind us live a good Christian life. By this, others may see our good works, through which we will glorify our Holy Religion, our Honored Order and our Beloved Country.

Fourth Degree Emblem


The triad emblem of the Fourth Degree features the Dove, the Cross, and the Globe.

The Dove - classic symbol of the Holy Spirit and Peace - is shown hovering over the orb of the earth (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 from the pagans.

Our Honored Order cherishes as its patron Christopher Columbus.

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 lans of the Western Hemisphere in white.

A red Cross with gold borders, and gold knobs at the end of the points forming the ends of the arms of the Cross (also known as the Isabella 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.

Principles to Live By

Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes. Therefore, give yourself fully to your endeavors. Decide to construct your character through excellent actions, and determine to pay the price for a worthy goal. The trials you encounter will introduce you to your strengths. Remain steadfast... and one day you will build something that endures, something worthy of your potential. Epictetus, Roman teacher and philosopher (55 - 135 A.D.)

Excellence: Passion to do our best in each moment. (Excellence - The standards we set determine how high we go!)

Integrity--- Our hallmark; Determination and effort will not lead to success if not grounded in principles of honesty, ethics, and strength of character. (Integrity: Do the right thing not the easy thing.)

Forgiveness--- "Lord how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? 'till seven times?  Jesus says to Peter, "I do not say unto you seven times: but, until seventy times seven."   It is easy to love those who love us.  It is difficult to like those who are critical of us.  Yet, it is crucial to forgive those who hurt us.  Forgiveness sets the forgiver free.