About the Fourth Degree
The Fourth Degree is the highest degree of the order. Members of this degree are addressed as “Sir Knight”. The primary purpose of the Fourth Degree is to foster the spirit of patriotism and to encourage active Catholic citizenship. Fewer than 20% of Knights join the Fourth Degree, which is optional. A Knight must be a Third Degree member and a citizen of the nation in which he resides before he can join a Fourth Degree Assembly.
The Knights stand In Solidarity with Our Bishops and Priests, the leaders of our church, who have given their entire lives for Christ.
Assemblies are distinct from councils and are led by a separate set of elected officers. For example, the Fourth Degree has its own emblem. The Supreme Board of Directors appoints a Supreme Master, currently Joseph P. Schultz, and twenty Vice Supreme Masters to govern the Fourth Degree. Each Vice Supreme Master oversees a Province which is then broken up into Districts. The Supreme Master appoints District Masters to supervise several assemblies.
Each assembly is led by a Navigator. Other elected assembly officers include the Captain, Admiral, Pilot, Scribe, Purser, Comptroller, Sentinels and Trustees. A Friar and Color Corps Commander are appointed by the Navigator. Assembly officers are properly addressed by using the title “faithful.” Assemblies are numbered in the order in which they chartered into the Order and are named by the local membership, and are governed by the Laws and Rules of the Fourth Degree and an Assembly’s individual bylaws. The St. Louis Assembly has over 1200 members from more than 100 Councils, including over 40 members with more than 50 years of service, and is one of the largest in the Order.
The need for a patriotic degree was first considered in 1886 and a special plea was made at the National Meeting of 1899. The first Fourth Degree exemplification followed in 1900 with 1,100 Knights participating at the Lenox Lyceum in New York City. Today there are more than 2,500 Assemblies. The Fourth Degree is especially active in civics and patriotism activities, including providing service at Veterans’ Administration hospitals and promoting respect for the Flag of the United States. Additionally, in our area, a deceased Sir Knight’s family is presented with a gold chalice engraved with the member’s name to present to a priest or church of their choice.