PARK CITY — The Utah Knights of Columbus rolled out their new uniform for Fourth Degree Knights and retired their old uniform May 4 at their annual convention in a special honor guard ceremony. The new uniform will consist of a sports coat featuring an emblem of the organization on the pocket and slacks, along with a military-style beret. A colored patch indicating the rank of the wearer will be worn on the beret behind the Fourth Degree emblem. Those not holding office will wear plain berets.
The national board of directors made the decision to change the uniform after three years of testing and discussion, according to Utah District Master Frank Carmona. They made the change after receiving input that the previous uniforms might not appeal to younger Knights or potential Fourth Degree members. The new uniforms, which will be the official dress of Fourth Degree Knights beginning July 1, were introduced to the general membership last year.
Only men who have achieved the Fourth Degree are authorized to wear the uniform, which has gone through several changes since the fraternal order was formed in 1882. During the early years, Fourth Degree Knights wore tuxedos and top hats. For the last 69 years, the Fourth Degree Knights have worn the colorful capes and plumed chapeaus that have been familiar sights at ceremonies with honor guards.
Response to the upcoming change has been mixed, Carmona said.
“Some of the older Knights want to hang onto the regalia,” he said, “but once they see the new uniform in person, some really like it and want to go with it.”
Fourth Degree knights who own tuxedos from the previous uniform may use them as part of their unofficial Knight uniform, Carmona said. The plumed chapeau and cape will be retired.
Some Knights have been disappointed that they could not pass on their uniforms to family members, Carmona said.
However, “the important part is the sword, which symbolizes freedom and us protecting God’s country and our priests and our churches,” he said. “The uniform is just a symbol so people can notice us carrying that sword. The thing you pass on to your sons or younger brothers is that sword.”
The new uniforms will be distributed through the Knights of Columbus organization, which will use just one provider, improving standardization of the uniform, something that has been a problem across the world as different manufacturers have been used. No change will be made to the traditional swords and service baldrics.