The Knights of Columbus is a global Catholic fraternal service order. Membership is composed of practicing Catholic men, age 18 and older. The organization was founded in 1882 as a mutual benefit society for working-class and immigrant Catholics in the United States. It has grown to support refugee relief, Catholic education, local parishes and dioceses, and global Catholic causes.
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THE KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS: OUR HISTORY
On Oct. 2, 1881, a small group of men met in the basement of St. Mary’s Church on Hillhouse Avenue in New Haven, Connecticut. Called together by their 29-year-old parish priest, Father Michael J. McGivney, these men formed a fraternal society that would one day become the world’s largest Catholic family fraternal service organization. They sought strength in solidarity, and security through unity of purpose and devotion to a holy cause: they vowed to be defenders of their country, their families and their faith. These men were bound together by the ideal of Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of the Americas, the one whose hand brought Christianity to the New World. Their efforts came to fruition with the incorporation of the Knights of Columbus on March 29, 1882. They were Knights of Columbus. The Order has been called "the strong right arm of the Church," and has been praised by popes, presidents and other world leaders, for support of the Church, programs of evangelization and Catholic education, civic involvement and aid to those in need. Father McGivney’s founding vision for the Order also included a life insurance program to provide for the widows and orphans of deceased members. The Order’s insurance program has expanded substantially to serve more effectively the Knights’ growing membership. Year after year, the Knights of Columbus has earned the highest possible quality ratings for financial soundness from A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The Order provides the highest quality insurance, annuity and long-term care products to its members, along with many other fraternal benefits. The Supreme Council is the governing body of the Knights of Columbus and is responsible for the development of the organization as a whole. Supreme Council duties include establishing the Order in new regions and setting up regional authorities, defining and advancing its values and goals, undertaking organization-wide initiatives, promoting awareness of the Knights’ mission worldwide, and protecting the families of members through its extensive insurance program. Members working in local, or subordinate councils, however, carry on the majority of the Knights’ beneficial work.
OKLAHOMA STATE COUNCIL
The Oklahoma State Council is our host, and represents the Oklahoma Knights of Columbus in a heritage that spans more than 100 years. Their accomplishments over the years have been many. The various councils in our state always need new energy and ideas that new members bring in order to continue our presence in Oklahoma's second century. Ours is not an elite membership only reserved for a few, but instead is a vital force of ordinary men and their families who are willing to put our faith into action to assist our Church, clergy, communities, families, youth, and brother knights.
BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX - COUNCIL 11959
St. Bernard of Clairvaux - Council 11959 was established in January 2008. As knights we aspire to the principles of Charity, Unity and Fraternity. Come join us. We look forward to meeting you!
Pope John Paul II Assembly
The Pope John Paul II Assembly 3135 was formed subsequent to the June 2008 Fourth Degree Exemplification held at the Parish of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Since that time, we have grown to over 80 members with almost a quarter of those also participating in the Color Corps. As we continue to grow and represent the visible arm of the Knights of Columbus, we will hold true to the primary purpose of the 4th degree which is to foster the spirit of patriotism in its members and the community at large and encourage active Catholic citizenship.
Fourth Degree Knights
On February 22, 1900, the first Fourth Degree exemplification or degree ceremony was held in New York City. The Fourth Degree imparts a lesson on the virtue of patriotism. The primary purpose of this degree is to foster the spirit of patriotism in members and the community at large and encourage active Catholic citizenship. A Fourth Degree Knight may become part of the assembly's color corps. These members regularly take part in civic events such as parades and wreath-laying ceremonies, and at ecclesial functions at Catholic churches.
History of the Fourth Degree
The history of the creation of the Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus is directly linked to the social and political climate in the United States at the turn of the 20th century. It is in that light that the connection between the Fourth Degree and its Color Corps, that has grown to be the most visible aspect of the Knights, must be seen. The idea of adding new degrees to the Order's original three, (Charity, Unity, Fraternity) first came to light in 1886. Supreme Knight James T. Mullen appointed a committee to look into forming two new "commander" degrees. That same year the Connecticut Catholic, a local newspaper, carried an advertisement calling members of local Knights of Columbus councils to meet to form a "Uniformed Legion." The idea for this new unit arose from a growing nationwide sense of Nationalism, or what we would call today Patriotism. The unknown author in Connecticut was not alone in wanting a visible organization. Following the Spanish American War, it was decided that there should be one new Degree added based on the principle of Patriotism. In 1899, Edward L. Hearn was elected Supreme Knight and he immediately appointed a committee to establish and format the new Degree to be given the following year. The first Exemplification of the new Degree was scheduled to be held in the Astor Hotel in New York City on February 22, 1900. However, there were so many candidates, the Exemplification had to be moved to a larger venue. Therefore the site was moved to the Lenox Lyceum. At this first Exemplification of the Fourth Degree 1,100 members of the Knights of Columbus, being in good standing "took their fourth." The second Exemplification, held in Boston on May 8, 1900 saw another 750 Third Degree knights join the ranks of Sir Knights. In the early years of the Fourth Degree, members met as part of their councils, mostly after meetings. In 1910, during a reorganization of the Order's leadership, the first Assemblies were created. Additionally the position of Supreme Master was established to lead the Fourth Degree internationally. Vice Supreme Masters lead Provinces and Masters head Districts. This system has spread and flourished as Sir Knights not only serve their local Church through their service to local councils but also their joint efforts in these Assemblies. The Honor Guard, first called for in 1886 was officially formed in 1902, for ceremonial purposes.
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. Assemblies are distinct from councils and are led by a separate set of elected officers. The Supreme Board of Directors appoints a Supreme Master, 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" (e.g. Faithful Navigator). Assemblies are numbered in the order in which they chartered into the Order and are named by the local membership. Only Fourth Degree Knights may optionally purchase the full regalia and join the Assembly’s Color Corps. The Color Corps is the most visible arm of the Knights as they are often seen in parades and other local events wearing their colorful regalia.