“Throughout the history of the Fourth Degree, its official regalia has changed with the times. In 1940, the white tie, tails and top hat changed to the tuxedo, chapeau and cape that we know so well. And in 1981 different colored capes and chapeaus were officially recognized. This fraternal year we make another historic change. The Board of Directors has decided that the time is right for a modernization of the Fourth Degree Uniform. This morning at the Opening Mass of our Supreme Convention our Vice Supreme Masters processed in wearing the new uniform of the Fourth Degree. Beginning today the Uniform of the Fourth Degree is a blue blazer with Fourth Degree Emblem, dark-gray slacks, a blue Fourth Degree tie, white shirt, and a black beret with the Fourth Degree Emblem. On a limited basis, Assemblies may choose to continue using the traditional cape and chapeau for Color Corps at public events and Honor Guards in Liturgical Processions. However the preferred dress for the Fourth Degree, including Color Corps and Honor Guards, is the new Uniform of jacket and beret.”
The new uniform is part of a comprehensive and necessary effort to keep our Order relevant and attractive to men, particularly younger men.
In light of this significant change, I thought it would be helpful to address some of the questions that have been asked about the new uniform.
- The cape and chapeau, while popular among some Fourth Degree members, have become dated and are increasingly cited as a reason that eligible Catholic men, especially young men, do not join the Knights of Columbus.
- Today there are nearly 2 million members of the Order, but only 358,000 of them are Fourth Degree Knights — less than 20 percent. The old regalia was one reason often given by brother Knights for why they did not want to advance to the Fourth Degree.
- We understand that some Fourth Degree members are fond of the old regalia. The cape and chapeau regalia will still be allowed, for a time, in those assemblies and districts that wish to use it, though the preference is for the new uniform.
- Ceremonial swords will continue to be part of the Fourth Degree.
- The new uniform is designed to be much more versatile than the older regalia and can be worn at a much wider range of functions.
- Our choice of uniform, while important, has always been ancillary to the work we do carrying out the principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism, and this should always be the case.
We have been testing the new uniform over the past year with key groups of Knights, including those brother Knights who participate in our annual Warriors to Lourdes Pilgrimage. The feedback we received from these groups has been