Order of Columbus
Initiation Ritual


Opening Ceremonies
The Commander will take the chair, give * and say.
I am about to open this Council of the Order of Columbus. If any present are not members they will please retire.
The Officers will take their proper positions.
Marshal, you will ascertain if all present are entitled to the privileges of the Order, and see that the doors leading to this chamber are securely guarded.
The Marshal will advance to the Commander's chair and give to the Commander the passwords; then he will proceed to take same from all the members. He will also see that the Officers are all in their proper positions; then, taking his position at the altar, he will respond.
Commander, I find the Officers occupying their proper positions and all present entitled to remain with us.
Commander, ***:
Brothers/Sisters, we may now proceed. As we have assembled once more for the purpose of advancing the interests of our noble Order, may no indiscretion mar the pleasure or retard the progress of this meeting, but rather let our deliberations be marked with Fraternal Patriotism and brotherly love. We will now surround the altar, advance the salutation sign, forge the link that binds us, and give; attention to the invocation of the Advisory Commander.
The members will form a circle around the altar, with the Commander and Advisory Commander in the centre, give the salutation sign, then join hands while the Advisory Commander invokes a blessing. The Commander and Advisory Commander will then join the circle and all join in singing the opening ode, marching around the altar at the same time. After this they will all resume their seats. Two circles can be formed when there is a large number of members present.
Advisory Commander:
Great and Supreme Ruler of the Universe, we would offer thanks unto Thee for Thy kind providence in again permitting us to meet together as Brothers/Sisters in this our fraternal home. May our Motto, "Fraternal Patriotism," be instilled in the heart of every member here gathered; may we follow thy teachings by doing unto others as we would have others do unto us. Give us brotherly love one towards the other. May we ever remember the obligations we have taken; help us to realize that to do good should be our aim through life.
Direct our meditations throughout this meeting, grant us wisdom from on high and may all our work meet with thy approval and be pleasing in Thy sight.
We will now sing our opening ode.
The invitation now extends,
In Friendship to agree,
That all accepted trusted Friends
May dwell in unity.
That all accepted trusted friends
May dwell in Unity.

On Friendship's altar rising here
Our hands now plighted be,
To live in love with hearts sincere,
In peace and unity.
To live in love with hearts sincere,
In peace and unity.
Commander, **:
Vice-Commander, what is your duty in this Council?
It is my duty to assist you in maintaining order and decorum among the members while this Council is in session, to assist in the initiation of new members, and perform all duties that may be necessary to properly conduct the business of the Council.
Advisory Commander, what is your duty?
Advisory Commander:
It is my duty to invoke aid from the Supreme Ruler of our Universe, to advise all new members joining our Council, and to legally represent the Council in all matters.
Past Commander, will you kindly give us your duties in this Council?
Past Commander:
As I have the honor to be the sitting Past Commander of this Council it is my duty to see that the business of this Council is properly transacted, also to see that order and decorum is maintained while the Council is in session, and to obligate all new members joining with us.
Secretary, what is your duty in this Council?
It is my duty to keep a record of the proceedings of this Council, to collect all assessments and dues from the members, also attend to all communications and correspondence, see that the name of every new member is properly entered upon the books of the Council, and perform all duties that may be necessary to insure prosperity to this Council.
Treasurer. what is your duty in this Council?
It is my duty to guard sacredly all funds entrusted to my care belonging to this Council.
Marshal, what is your duty in this Council?
It is my duty to ascertain if all present are worthy members of this Order; to see that the doors leading to this Council are properly guarded; also, assist in the initiation of new members, and perform such other duties as may be required to assist in conducting the business of this Council.
Guard, what duties are you required to perform?
It is my duty to guard the outer door leading to this Council, and to require the annual password from every one seeking admission.
I now declare … Council, No. …, of the Order of Columbus, in session and qualified to transact such business as may properly come before it. Marshal, any members in waiting, you will now permit them to enter.
Guard, you will proceed to your station.
Marshal please ascertain if any candidates are in waiting, if so report their names.
Marshal steps to the altar, gives salutation, retires, re-enters, gives salutation at the altar and says:
Commander I find …, who desires to become a member of our Order.
Secretary has the candidate been recommended and duly elected a member of this Council? Have you his application properly approved by the Supreme Medical Examiner?
Secretary answers.
Past Commander you will please retire with the Secretary, obligate the candidate and see that the application is properly signed. Secretary you will collect all the fees.
Past Commander will see that the requirements of the Law are complied with in the application and with application in hand question candidate as follows; also require assent to the obligation on the application.
Past Commander:
Do you acknowledge that you signed this application and Medical Examination, and do you assent to this obligation?
I do.
Past Commander:
Have you carefully and truthfully answered all these questions?
I have.
Past Commander:
Do you still desire to become a member of our Order?
I do.
The Secretary will then collect all the fees and have the application properly signed.
Past Commander and Secretary will enter the room, advance to the altar, salute and report.
Past Commander:
Commander, I have examined the candidate and by his answers find him worthy of membership.
Commander, the fees have been collected and the application properly signed.
Marshal, you will now assist the candidate in gaining admission to our Order, also place the Guard in charge of the inner door after seeing that the outer door is securely locked.
Marshal advances to the altar, salutes and retires and places the Guard in charge of the inner door. He then blindfolds candidate and instructs him to take his arm and proceeds to enter the room by giving the signal, two followed by one loud knock. All the lights in the Council room should be turned down very low or put out entirely.
Guard opens the door slightly, and in a very loud voice demands:
Who comes here?
A stranger who has been duly elected desires the protection of our Order.
Guard, in a loud voice:
Vice-Commander, the Marshal has a stranger in his keeping who desires membership in our Order.
Has he been elected?
Guard, in a loud voice:
So reported by the Marshal.
Vice-Commander, in a loud voice:
You will ascertain if the Marshal considers the stranger strong enough to stand the trying ordeal.
I am requested by the Vice-Commander, to ascertain if the stranger is strong enough to stand ordeal.
In my judgment, the stranger will be equal to the occasion with my assistance.
Vice-Commander, the Marshal reports that the stranger will be equal to the occasion, but it will require his assistance.
Vice-Commander, in a loud voice:
You will admit them, but first admonish the stranger to stick close to the Marshal and obey all instructions.
Marshal will then walk the candidate around the room twice, on the second round, when he reaches the door, a member designated will jump at them and grab the candidate by the arm, demanding, at the same time, as follows.
Whom have we here, trying to pass the portals of our sacred Council?
Honored sir, it is a stranger whom I have in charge. I have found him worthy and entitled to the protection of our Order.
We shall see.
The member will then blow three sharp blasts on a whistle which he shall have, where upon all the officers and members present shall make a grand rush and surround the candidate.
Companions, I find a stranger here desirous of the protection of our Order. The Marshal has found him worthy. We shall see if he shall be found wanting after being weighed in the balance. You will now do your duty.
The members and Officers will then all grab the candidate and bind him with cords which they shall have. They will tie his arms to his side first, then they will tie his feet together, and carry him to the Commander, standing him in front of the chair.
Commander, I have in my keeping a stranger who desires the protection of our Order. Obstacles have been placed in his way.
He now stands before you bound hand and foot, and is about to go through with the trying ordeal. I have found him worthy, and would ask that he be not put through the test.
Member, blows his whistle three times, whereupon the members all respond by running to the front of the Commander's chair and stand back of the candidate:
Commander, we would urge upon you the necessity of requiring this candidate to go through the ordeal.
Commander, in my judgment, it would not be wise to put this stranger through the trying ordeal. If it is to be done, I now wash my hands of any responsibility and will not vouch for the safety of the stranger.
Companions, what is your pleasure in the matter?
The members and Officers all respond in a loud voice:
Put him through the ordeal.
Marshal, you will remove the cords that bind the stranger's feet and conduct him on his journey. If you meet with no obstacles, return with him to this chair and we will see what is best to be done.
Marshal then walks the candidate around the room twice and returns to the Commander’s chair.
Commander, we have met with no obstacles. What is your will?
Commander, * * *:
Marshal, we have hearkened unto your warning, and will not require this stranger to go through the trying ordeal. You will conduct him on his journey.
Here an ode will be sung by all the members, during which the Marshal marches the candidate around the room. At the conclusion of the singing he presents the candidate to the Commander and uncovers his eyes.

Far from the world's cold strife,
Come join our peaceful band,;
Come, strangers, we your friends will be
Where truth and love shall stand.
Then may you in our labors join,
And prove yourself a friend,
All sordid, selfish cares resign,
Be faithful to the end.
Commander, I have the honor to introduce , who has been elected a member of our Council, and I report that all is well.
Commander, *:
Stranger, to our Order, it shall not be said of us that we are found wanting in friendship. Welcome, thrice welcome.
Members all respond:
Welcome, thrice welcome.
I assure you, the step you have taken this night is a wise one. If you fulfil the obligation required of you, I am certain you will not regret your action.
You will now conduct the candidate to the altar, and the Past Commander will administer the obligation.
* * *.
Past Commander steps to the altar and directs the candidate to hold up his right hand, palm to the front, and to repeat, with his name, the following obligation.
Past Commander:
I, …, do solemnly pledge myself in the presence of these members assembled that I will never divulge any of, the private business of the Order of Columbus. I will support and obey the Constitution and Laws of the Order, and the By-Laws of this or any Subordinate Council of which I may become a member. I will faithfully comply with all the terms of my Benefit and Relief Fund Certificates.
I also promise that I will avoid anything that may bring reproach upon this Order. I will never introduce anything of a political or sectarian character at any meeting of this Council, I will not injure a brother member in person, character or estate, but will to the best of my ability, assist him whenever I can without injury to myself or my family, and will do all in my power to advance the interests of this Council, and the Order generally. I further pledge myself to be present as often as I can at all the regular meetings of this Council, and endeavor to increase its membership. To all of which I pledge my sacred honor.
Members in chorus:
We are witnesses of your vows.
We will now form our circle around our friend and the Advisory Commander will invoke the Divine blessing.
Advisory Commander steps to the altar, faces the candidate while the officers and members form a circle around the candidate and Advisory Commander.
Advisory Commander:
Our Heavenly Father, we thank Thee that this candidate has taken upon himself our obligation and to bind himself to our Laws. May we live in sympathy with each other, and may … keep this high obligation through life and be enabled to exemplify to the world that the labors and teachings of our Order are not in vain. Amen.
The members all respond:
Amen, and march around in a circle with clasped hands, singing the following Ode.
Let us form our circle now
Around our friends to-night;
Form it with a spirit true
That will cheer them with delight;
Form it as it should be formed,
With friendship strong and pure,
As we march around the altar.
We'll sing, we’ll sing,
Friendship and honor true;
We'll sing, we'll sing,
Protection strong and free
The friendship circle now
We'll form arounnd our friends to-night,
As we march around our altar.
Marshal, you will now present our friend to the Vice-Commander.
My friend, it gives me pleasure to welcome you to our fraternal home, and to convey to you the principles set forth in the Divine Command, "Whatsoever ye, would that others should do unto you, do ye even so unto them." You have manifested by your presence here faith in the Order; try to show by your actions that you are aware of the vows you have assumed May your perceptions of the great and noble work for which the Order was instituted grow with your growing experience.
Be faithful and true and try to increase our membership; ever remember the fate of a house-hold divided against itself. The Marshal will now conduct you to the Commander for instructions in the unwritten work.
Friend, again do I welcome you into our Order, the obligation you have taken binds you unto us by the strongest kind of a tie. In uniting with us you have made for yourself a place of refuge, you have provided for those depending upon you, should you be taken down on a bed of sickness you know you and your family will be taken care of, should death remove you from the toils and strife of this world, you have the sweet assurance that your loved ones are amply provided for in your membership in our Order. Of course there are rules and regulations which each member is bound to obey. It is your duty to pay your assessments and dues promptly. If they are not paid as provided by the Laws of the Order you will stand suspended from all benefits and forfeit your membership in the Order. You have complied with all our requirements, it only remains for me to instruct you in the unwritten work.
To gain admission into a Council when it is in session, you will approach the outer door and give the signal, which is, …. This will attract the attention of the guard, to whom you will give the annual password, which is, ….
This will admit you to the ante-room, where you will clothe yourself with the badge of our Order, and advance to the inner door, where you will give ….. This will attract the attention of the Marshal, to whom you will give your name, also the name, number and location of your Council. The Marshal will report same to the Vice-Commander, who will order you to be admitted if correct. The Marshal will again upon the wicket, when you will give him the permanent password, which is, …. This will admit you to the Council. You will then advance to the altar, face the Commander, and give the salutation sign, which is made thus, …, and will be answered by the Commander in the same manner, after which you can take a seat. Should you wish to retire while the Council is in session, you will advance to the altar, give the salutation, and, if in order, the Commander will permit you to retire by responding in the same manner. It will not be in order to enter the room or retire during the opening or closing ceremony, or during initiation, or while a motion is being put or a vote taken. You will address all the Officers by their titles and the members as Brothers and Sisters. The grip is made by ….. Should it be convenient, you can use the words in connection with the grip, …, answer to which is, …. The signal of distress is, …, answer to which is, …. The words which can also be used as a signal of distress is …, answer to which is …. This can be used in connection with the signal if desired. Our motto is Fraternal Patriotism. It will not be in order to pass between the altar and this chair. * One rap of the gavel calls the Council to order, also seats the Officers and members when standing; * * two raps call the officers to their feet, officers rise, and * * * three raps call up the entire membership, members rise.
Marshal turns the candidate about face and clothes him with a badge of the Order.
Officers and members of … Council, No. …, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you our new member, …, whom I now declare to be a member of this Council, and ask that you extend to him a cordial welcome. I declare a recess of … minutes for that purpose.
The Commander may here leave the chair and march around the hall, followed by all the Officers and members in line. As they pass the newly-made member, all should shake hands with him.

Closing Ceremony
Brothers and Sisters, our deliberations for the evening are closed. Let us go forth remembering that we have a duty to perform, a mission to fulfill. Our work will then be a success, and the name of our noble Order honored by all. Marshal, inform the Guard that we are about to close our meeting; request him to secure the outer door and present himself in this room to participate in our closing ceremonies. * * Officers, I thank you for your attendance, and for the assistance you have so kindly rendered me. I trust you will be prompt in your respective positions at our next meeting.
* * *
Members of … Council, I desire also to thank you for your attendance, which is necessary for our success, as the Officers cannot be expected to be the only ones to work for the upbuilding of this Council. I trust you will each exert yourselves to increase our membership and be with us at our next meeting. We will now gather around the altar and participate in our closing ceremonies.
A circle is formed around the altar the same as in the opening ceremonies. After the invocation the members will resume their seats until the Commander declares the Council closed.

The star we have followed now sinks in the West,
But leaves in our hearts all its memories blest,
As spring yields to summer, yet fades not its bloom,
So bear with these memories joyfully home.
Home; home, sweet, sweet home,
We praise thee our father who giveth a home.
When called from earth's labor to lands far away,
Where sorrow is pleasure and darkness is day,
May all now departing in harmony come,
And bloom in God's presence with angels at home.
Advisory Commander:
Our Heavenly Father, we thank thee for the many blessings thou hast bestowed upon us. Help us to be faithful to one another and careful of our acts in the outer world. Take us now into Thy care and keeping and watch over us all along the journey of life, and when at last our mission on earth is ended may we have an abundant entrance into Thy kingdom. All we ask in the name of our Supreme Ruler. Amen.
All members:
Marshal, you will please collect the rituals and regalia and present them to this Chair.
After this is done shall say:
I now declare this Council closed until … night, the … of … at … o'clock.