Membership in the Knights of Columbus is open to practical Catholic men in union with the Holy See, who shall not be less than 18 years of age on their last birthday. A practical Catholic is one who lives up to the Commandments of God and the precepts of the Church. Application blanks are available from any member of the Knights of Columbus. Every knight is happy to propose eligible Catholic men for consideration as members.
Acceptance of the applicant depends upon a vote of the members of the subordinate council in which he is making application.
All priests and religious brothers having duly made application for membership and participated in the ceremonials become honorary life members of the Order and are exempt from payment of dues.
Application for membership must be made through the council in the community nearest the applicant’s place of residence. Interested prospects without a permanent domicile, such as men temporarily away from home through duty in the armed forces, may make application through their hometown council or at the nearest council on a military base.
If favorably voted upon, the applicant becomes a member by initiation known as the First Degree. He subsequently is advanced through the Second Degree and the Third Degree.
There are modest initiation fees and dues set by subordinate councils under regulations established by the Supreme Council. The insurance privileges are available to all members who can qualify, which represents an important advantage of membership. For men in every walk of life the name Knights of Columbus engenders the image of a united organization, efficiently going about it tasks of charity, unity, fraternity, patriotism and defense of the priesthood. It is composed of men who are giving unselfishly of their time and talents in service of God and their country.
Membership in the Knights of Columbus provides opportunity for wholesome association with congenial companions who are, first of all, practical Catholic gentlemen. It offers the opportunity for fellowship with those who are of the same belief, who recognize the same duty to God, to family and to neighbor and who stand side by side in defense of those beliefs. Programs are so organized as to appeal to the individual interest of the members. Through many constructive activities of Christian fraternity, members are enabled to render service to their Church, their country and their fellow man. Through membership they develop a consciousness of their ability to lead and to assist.
Organized membes of the Knights of Columbus, united behind the individual Knight of Columbus, provides the power of an intelligent, alert body of Catholic men–a strength which the individual by himself cannot achieve.
Knights of Columbus has a proud heritage. The qualified Catholic man can share in that heritage and build an even greater future by joining himself with this forceful, effective body.
The Patriotic Degree
Another degree open to members of the Knights of Columbus is that of the Fourth (or Patriotic) Degree. On February 22, 1900, the first exemplification of that degree was held in New York City. The 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.
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.
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.