Getting brothers to participate in ceremonials beyond the first degree

I'll start this off with a question:

How does your Council/District go about getting men to make the second and third degrees?

Food for thought:


Degrees are exemplifications of what it means to be a Catholic and a Knight and are organized around the main principles of our Order ( The degrees reveal how the Knights of Columbus, as an organization, is different from other community service groups. The first degree is the introductory and initiation lesson with focus on the theological virtue of charity; whereas, the second (formation in the Faith and the Order) and third (Knighthood) degrees increase a member's knowledge of the Faith and understanding of the Order and move him toward full Knighthood. The fourth and final degree ( is the Order's Patriotic Degree and is emblematic of the Order by virtue of the characteristic chapeaux, capes, swords, etc., that fourth-degree members wear when participating in honor guards (


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Personally, I believe that retention is important:

It seems as if in some Councils the Grand Knight has been deemed recruiter-in-chief for the entire council, and this sometimes leads a GK to consider himself to be alone at the top, clearly NOT a good situation for the GK or for the Council. The above retention strategies need to be pushed much harder so that there is movement into the Order and through the degrees through the active engagement of a much higher percentage of Council members.

Each Council should have a retention Committee.  This retention committee is responsible for maintaining the current roster and recommending to the officers the necessity of suspension and re-activation.  The concept is pretty simple.  Whomever is chosen should be willing to put in the time twice a year to sit down and work through the roster.  While twice a year might seem redundant and even though most of the Council members know one another, it is still a good exercise in fraternity, unity and charity.

The structure should look like this:

WGK chairman ex officio
Retention Chairman
Retention Committee
Retention Committee
Retention Committee
Retention Committee

The committee should be made up of 5 members who have experience with the councils.  (Past Grand Knights, Former Financial Secretaries, and Past Chancellors are a good pool to draw from, but not absolutely necessary).  The Chairman doesn't vote unless there is a tie.  The WGK is an ex officio member.  He should not participate, unless he wants to, but as Grand Knight, he is ex officio the head of every committee.

Collegiality rules the day.  By using this structure, we find that there is a greater attention paid to the process and it allows past officers to remain active without being overburdened.

By following this model, we will find ourselves in a better place.  As an aside, I would recommend the same structure for your membership committee.  It falls on a joint effort between the retention and membership committees to promote and support degree work within the Council.

Here's a message I got from a very dedicated leader in Council 4208 concerning the upcoming firstsecond, and third degrees in Waukon:

"I had no luck with getting any one to go to the degree in Waukon. I contacted or talked to around 20 people."

I have had no success either, I hate to admit.

Naturally, we wonder what's the problem?

I've talked with others involved with the 2nd & 3rd degrees, and attendance at them--at least in northeast Iowa--seems to be dwindling over the last several years.

This post by District 8 and my comments here are to be seen as a shout out for help. I think that some/many of us who are fully committed to the Knights of Columbus are disillusioned not only by the lack of interest in Catholic men in general but also by the outright desire by Catholic men inside and outside the Order to have nothing to do with it.

All this being said, perhaps this is just an issue in northeast Iowa and there are local (or even personal) factors at play.

God's will be done.

Ceremonials: (1) Click here and then scroll down to see the comments about the importance of having Knights take the second and third degrees asap after having been introduced to the Order via the first degree. (2) Click here for general and administrative information about ceremonials.

After speaking extensively with Brother Joseph M. Behnke, Field Director (Ceremonials Supreme Office), this past Sunday at the 2nd & 3rd degrees in Waukon (, I am convinced that District 8 needs a 2nd-degree team so that we can regularly offer the 2nd degree. Apparently this is being done in other jurisdictions with great success and aid to members. I am praying that, if it be God's will, having a 2nd-degree team in northeast Iowa will move forward.

you are correct Claude, the second degree is to be offered in each district and its a good idea to have a district second degree team

it is relatively easy to do so but we are swimming upstream a bit as tradition in Iowa has been to do all the degrees at once and then disappear into the cornfields.

People in this part of the state want to stay with that method because it "works" to get people thru the third degree. I counter however that we suspend a lot of those members because we never engaged them.

Two observations:

1) we set the stage at the first degree by telling the new Knight our expectation of them is to proceed to full Knighthood, that being a Knight is different from the Elks, the Rotary and a host of other service organizations. We are a step ahead of these organizations because of our unity and fraternity. if they want to know what it means to be a full Knight they need the lessons taught in the unity and fraternity degrees.

2) all organizations and groups flourish due to the bonds built between members. build strong bonds, you will have strong members. I agree with having retention committees. Much more important however are mentor programs to plug new knights into the life of the council and assist them in making connections for life with one or more brother Knights.

These two points combine my thinking that Knights are more than charity so be more personally and that none of us stand alone, so stand together with brother Knights.

I offer another reflection upon this in an address to the college council at UNI

St Stephen the Witness UNI council address

It seems that a good approach would be to have both a council retention committee and mentor program.

District 8 is in the process of getting a Formation (2nd) Degree team together. If you have knowledge in this area or are interested in the discussion, please click here to request to join our private "Formation Degree team group" for conversation. Naturally, only members who have received the Formation Degree are allowed to join this private group.

"As [the Knights of Columbus] grows, it is impossible to know everyone, but if I try to relate myself with just one other person, something will happen, something remarkable."


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