Catholic Post poll respondents favor traditional Knights of Columbus regalia

At left, members of a Knights of Columbus fourth degree honor guard in full traditional regalia are pictured during a recent procession at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. At right are the new uniforms shown Aug. 1 during during the international fraternal organization's 135th annual Supreme Convention in St. Louis. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody and CNS/Knights of Columbus)

By nearly a 4-to-1 margin, those responding to a Catholic Post poll conducted on Facebook would prefer the Knights of Columbus retain their traditional fourth-degree regalia rather than change to new uniforms debuted at the fraternal organization’s Supreme Convention in St. Louis on Aug. 1.

The decision to replace the swords, capes and chapeaus of the current regalia with a blue blazer, a Knights of Columbus tie, and a beret generated much interest and discussion — both online and in councils throughout the diocese.

With 357 votes cast on The Catholic Post’s Facebook site, 278 favored the traditional regalia, while 79 indicated a preference for the new uniforms.

The poll generated almost 100 comments, with the majority again preferring the status quo. Some, however, looked beyond outward appearances.

“Even though the uniform has changed, our mission is still the same: charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism,” wrote Andy Erlich from Mahomet.

“As a Past Faithful Navigator, I like the present one,” said Gary L. Scaff. “But as Knights we are here to serve. We will still be Knights whatever we wear. We must not let this change divide us.”


In introducing the new uniforms, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said the board of directors decided the time was right for “a modernization of the fourth-degree uniform.”

“On a limited basis, assemblies may choose to continue using the traditional cape and chapeau for color corps at public events and honor guards in liturgical processions,” said Anderson. “However, the preferred dress for the fourth degree, including color corps and honor guards, is the new uniform of jacket and beret.”

Many of those who commented against the change in The Catholic Post’s poll thought the new uniforms looked too military and that the traditional ones are more festive.

“The traditional regalia is more colorful and suitable for the pageantry that the 4th Degree provides at momentous church events,” wrote Kenneth Mietus. “The blazer/beret outfit seems rather bland and a bit too severe. Stay with the traditional regalia.”

Some gave personal, emotional reasons for retaining the current look.

“I love the traditional uniforms,” said Amy Weitekamp Amerio of Rantoul. “My grandfather was a fourth degree and every time I see them in uniform, it makes me emotional.”

“My grandfather was a 4th degree and wore the full uniform when serving the bishop of his diocese and other special events,” wrote Phyllis Merrell. “It is a uniform to be proud of and the capes and swords are sure signs to show that they are knights and not just soldiers.”


Those favoring the change feel the time is right for an update.

“I think the new regalia will also be helpful in getting new members, and maybe getting them to stick,” said Julie Gimbert, whose husband is a second-degree Knight. “I understand wanting to stick with the old regalia, but the Catholic Church is trying to stay relevant, and I think this may help their most ardent defenders.”

“We are Knights sworn to protect our church so the military feel seems in line,” said David Selzer of Normal. “It is also difficult in today’s environment to defend weapons in churches and travel. The change is fine.”

Some sought a compromise.

“Can there be a third choice?” asked Streator native Nanette Marx. “I understand the desire to be more current, but the new look seems too casual and undistinguishable.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: We thank all who participated in the poll. Watch our Facebook page for future polls and discussions on other topics affecting Catholic life in central Illinois.

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