The Knights of Columbus, the more than 100-year-old worldwide Catholic men’s charitable organization, is shaking things up a bit. Earlier this month at its international convention in St. Louis, the organization announced that the uniform of its Fourth Degree Knights – the iconic ensemble that included a tuxedo, cape, sword and a plumed chapeau – is history.
After more than 75 years, the uniform of the highest level of the organization has been modernized. Gone is the tux and feather plume. The new look includes a blue blazer with a Fourth Degree emblem, a Fourth Degree tie, and a beret. The uniform is worn at liturgical services and ceremonial processions and without question has in the past created a sense of pageantry and flair.
The change has received mixed reviews. Some say that the iconic nature of the former look is a sort of trademark or branding element. Others say the new look is long overdue.
I’m not big on change, but I think this one makes sense, particularly if the organization hopes to attract the next generation of young Catholic men to carry on its mission of funding charitable services, supporting Catholic education and rallying to defend Catholicism. (Recently, the Knights have been called a “lifeline” for persecuted Christians in the Middle East.) The new look just feels more serious. And because the Fourth Degree level signifies a strong commitment to patriotism, the military look supports that. I think young men will feel more comfortable in it.
As for the ceremonial sword… it’s said that it will still be a part of the new uniform, although details on this have not yet been released.
There is a strong contingent of Knights in the Diocese of Orange. We’d love to know what you think.