The four principles that the Knights base all of their actions include:
First Degree – Charity
Second Degree – Unity
Third Degree – Fraternity
Fourth Degree – Patriotism
Catholic gentlemen must be at least 18, and in good standing with the Church. An application will be completed and submitted to a brother Knight which will be read at a business meeting. Once the council has approved, the prospective Knight is sponsored and invited to attend the first degree ceremony. The first degree ceremony is for prospective Knights that wish to enter the order and will learn the principle of "Charity".
These ceremonies are typically completed together and usually held at another local council. Brother Knights from the council will carpool to the location in support of one another. Second and third degree ceremonies do not have any requirements or applications. The council dues cover the cost of the ceremony.
The prospective candidate will be in ceremony for most of the day. During the day, special events are arranged for the Knights wife or guest. During the evening a black tie celebration is held after Mass for the Knight and his guest. The exemplification is usually once a year. To apply for the fourth degree exemplification you must have attained third degree and have been a Knight for at least 6 months. An application will need to be completed and degree fees submitted.
The fourth degree has several members that serve as honor guards at civic and religious functions, an activity that has brought worldwide recognition to the Knights of Columbus. You may recognize them in their tux, colorful capes and chapeaux, white gloves and swords.