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Degrees of Knighthood

First Degree: Charity

Our Catholic faith teaches us to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Members of the Knights of Columbus show love for their neighbors by conducting food drives and donating the food to local soup kitchens and food pantries, by volunteering at Special Olympics, and by supporting, both spiritually and materially, mothers who choose life for their babies. Knights recognize that our mission, and our faith in God, compels us to action. There is no better way to experience love and compassion than by helping those in need, a call we answer every day.

~from the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council

A newly initiated First Degree member receives instruction in the history and values of the Order. He can begin attending Council meetings—in any Council worldwide—and serving at charitable events. He receives a subscription to the Order's award-winning Columbia magazine. Beyond that, he becomes eligible to protect his family with top-rated insurance available only to Order members and their families.

For 135 years, the First Degree was the sole point of entry into the Knights. But in 2017, the Supreme Council established an online membership for those men who are not yet ready for the commitments of the First Degree. Online Members benefit from insurance eligibility, although they do not participate in all of the fellowship and service opportunities afforded to First Degree members.

Second Degree: Unity

None of us is as good as all of us. Members of the Knights of Columbus all know that – together – we can accomplish far more than any of us could individually. So we stick together…we support one another. That doesn’t mean that we always agree or that there is never a difference of opinion. It does mean that – as a Knight of Columbus – you can count on the support and encouragement of your brother Knights as you work to make life better in your parish and community.

~from the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council

A Second Degree member grows deeper in his faith as he serves God and neighbor. He builds relationships with Brother Knights and continues learning about the Order's history and founder. For many, this Degree is a brief stopover on the journey to Knighthood in the Third Degree, as many Second and Third Degree ceremonies are combined. But some men choose to remain a while in this Degree, preparing themselves—as did knights in days of yore—by service, prayer, and fasting for the next stage in their journey.

Third Degree: Fraternity

Venerable Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus, in large part, to provide assistance to the widows and children left behind when the family breadwinner died – often prematurely. The Order’s top-rated insurance program continues to do this today, as do the good works of individual Knights, who gave more than 75.6 million service hours in 2017, illustrating how Catholics serve each other in fraternity and mercy.

~from the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council

Knighthood is conferred in the Order's Third Degree. These men have shown themselves faithful in small things and are now entrusted with greater things. Third Degree Knights are eligible for Officer and Director roles in their Councils, and they guide the Council toward greater service of God and neighbor.

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