Knights of Columbus
Formation Degree


The Warden and/or his aides will inspect all members’ Traveling Cards upon entering the council chamber.
The aides will make the candidates comfortable in the ante-chamber.
The aides will have the candidates lined up at the chamber door at the time the Warden is ready to present the candidates.
The conferring officers in the Formation Degree will wear business suits and their jewels— with the exception of the District Deputy who may wear the District Deputy robe and the Instructor who will wear a business suit with sash. No masks to be used by anyone in this degree.
The District Deputy is in charge of this degree. The exemplifying team is composed of the District Deputy, his Warden, the Chaplain of the degree team, the Instructors, the Reader and the Grand Knight. If the District Deputy wishes, a second Chaplain may be invited to participate in the degree and to take the second Chaplain charge. The Chaplain wears a clerical suit. The District Deputy may wear the robe of his office; the other members of the team wear business suits. The Instructor is a Knight who is respected as a Catholic gentleman and one who can deliver his charge in an inspiring manner. He wears a baldric style sash over his coat. The Reader is selected according to his ability to read well. If the District Deputy wishes, he may divide the selections to be read from the Second Vatican Council among several Readers. Such Readers would be seated in Section 7 and each one in turn would stand for his reading in his place. The quotations are from the English translation of Walter M. Abbott, S.J., Editor, The Documents of Vatican II. (C) designates the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church and (L) designates the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity.
The Warden will have the council chamber in readiness for the exemplification of the degree. The Warden with his two assistants, will lead the candidates into the. council chamber and seat them. Candidates will not be blindfolded. Members will not robe nor mask. All conferring and visiting officers will be seated prior to start of degree.
It is recommended that either live music or recorded music be used for the processional and that the hall be decorated in a dignified manner. Lights are lowered at the entry of the candidates and raised at the conclusion of the ceremonial.
It is presumed that the Order of Business including prayer, Ode, the Pledge of Allegiance, or some suitable patriotic of loyalty have been completed.
G.K., one rap: Brothers, we will now proceed to the exemplification of the Second or Formation Degree. All persons not having received the honors of membership in the second section will please retire from the chamber. The doors will now be closed and the guards assume their stations.
Worthy Warden do you vouch that none except duly qualified brothers are in the Council Chamber?
The Warden and his aides proceed to salutation table.
WARDEN: Worthy Grand Knight, I do so vouch.
G.K.: Worthy Warden you wili conduct the candidates from the ante-chamber to the presence of the Worthy Chaplain.
The Warden salutes and retires from the chamber. When he has left the council chamber:
G.K.: Let me admonish each Knight here present that during the conferring of this degree his conduct should be such as to cause these candidates for the Formation Degree to be edified by the beauty and dignity of the lessons to be exemplified. After the entry of the candidates no Brother will be allowed to enter or leave this Council chamber during the working of the Degree unless he has asked and obtained the permission of the G.K. which should be done privately. The G. shall strictly enforce this command. There will be no smoking during the ceremonial.
The Warden and his aides return with the Formation Degree candidates. The Guard will announce the arrival of the Warden and class.
G.K.: Open and admit the Warden and class.
The light, are lowered and the choir will sing an appropriate song. The Warden will maneuver the candidates until they are standing at their respective chairs. The Warden will give the necessary commands to seat the candidates.
WARDEN: Worthy Chaplain, I present these candidates who desire to continue their journey to Knighthood in our Order.
CHAPLAIN: My dear Brothers in the Knights of Columbus, before you move along the road towards full membership in this Order, I should like to address you in a formal way as the Chaplain.
You are to be called Knights of Columbus, to bear the name of the great discoverer of the New World, and it is fitting that you reflect on what sort cif man he was whom you are freely choosing as a model.
The man whose name gives luster to this Order was more than just a brilliant navigator, he was more than a bold adventurer, he was a man with a great burning mission in life, a man with a need to discover that God might be glorified through his discovery and that his fellow men might reap its harvest.
And every man must be a discoverer. Every man has a need to chart some course, to forge ahead in some way, to reach above and beyond himself somehow. This is how we grow in knowledge, in wisdom, and indeed, in grace; by broadening the horizons of our own lives, by sharpening our vision of things dimly seen, by reaching out to grasp a distant neighbor’s hand. This is how we become less earth-bound, less selfish, less tied to the moorings of our own wills and whims. To discover is to multiply oneself and to understand our own selves better through the reflection of things newly grasped. Each man can become a better man through the discovery of himself, and through every new discovery of his God, he accomplishes the multiplication of his usefulness to mankind.
This was the greatness of Columbus, it must be the goal of his sons. Like the great seaman of Genoa, the Knight of Columbus must continue to search out new ways to help his neighbor, new paths to serve his Church and his land. He can never be satisfied to go into the dry-dock of the spirit, his place is always on the high seas of bold and willing deeds. My Brothers, if you are not ready to pledge yourselves to this, you cannot truly be Knights of Columbus.
More than at any other moment in the history of the Church and of our nation this is true in a special way today. The Christian layman of today is called most clearly to be a discoverer. The Second Vatican Council has charted new horizons for the Church, and today’s layman is called to play a special role among the navigators of this modern journey.
Like every true navigator, the Knight of Columbus must train and prepare himself to read the charts and recognize the guidelines. This is why a process of formation is so important to your progress in this fraternity and why at the close of this degree, you will be asked to pledge your word that you will participate in the Knights of Columbus’ program of formation in your own council within your first year as a Knight.
But one last word of encouragement and counsel: To discover does not mean to invent or to create out of nothing, and therefore there are rules for discovery. To discover means to reveal new riches, to uncover new meanings, to reach out to new and unexplored shores. This is the role of the layman in our Church today. He is not wise if he turns his back on the landmarks of the past; he must use them to find his way to the future. He is not prudent if he ceases to consult the compass points of his bishops and pastors. He must find guidance here or he will soon be lost. He is not well advised to set out on his own without the united support of his companions; the solitary mariner cannot fight the waves alone.
This, my brothers, is your challenge; to discover deeper meanings and new significance in ancient truths and principles, to be bold leaders in seeking to start out new courses of action in the apostolic work of the Church, to prepare yourselves well and carefully to read the signs of these our times. The Knights of Columbus can help you do this. The
Church is counting on your loyalty and your love.
Pause. Worthy Warden.
The Chaplain will pause while the Warden leaves his station and moves to the salutation table. Upon his arrival he will salute and the Chaplain will return the salute and continue.
CHAPLAIN: Please proceed.
WARDEN: Worthy Instructor, the candidates are ready for your charge.
The Warden salutes the Instructor and returns to his designated station.
FIRST INSTRUCTOR: Fifteen hundred years ago, in the fifth century of the Christian era, the great doctor of the Church in the west, St. Augustine, spoke of the Church as a beauty “ever ancient yet ever new. What was already venerable in the year 450 is even more venerable after nearly two thousand years of existence, and what was still new in the days of Augustine has not lost its newness in the twentieth century. Indeed, in this very century, through the greatest gathering of its Bishops in all time, it has proclaimed its newness again in an Ecumenical Council of renewal and reform. Throughout the world, the Catholic Church must bear the marks of this renewal and modernization in spirit and outlook. Every diocese, every community, every association, and even every Christian is challenged to make manifest this renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church. But in a certain sense the challenge to the layman is the greatest of all, since he has never been so challenged before.
In this day in the year of Our Lord, 19, the words of the Ecumenical Council are the words of the Holy Spirit speaking to the Christian man:
READER: Each individual layman must stand before the world as a witness to the resurrection and the life of the Lord Jesus and as a sign that God lives. (C.38).
FIRST INSTRUCTOR: The challenge is no less than that. The Christian must put on Christ! He must be the voice of Christ, the hands of Christ, the very person of Christ, in a world that needs Him more than ever, yet recognizes its need for Him less than ever. If we are to bring Christ to this world, He must first be formed in us. As the Vatican Council teaches the ancient truth that we are the very members of His Body as He is the Head of the Body which is the Church, the Fathers add:
READER: All the members ought to be molded into Christ’s image until he is formed in them. For this reason we who have been made like unto Him, who have died with Him and been raised up with Him, are taken up into the mysteries of His life, until we reign together with Him. Still in pilgrimage upon earth, we trace in trial and under oppression the paths He trod. Made one with His sufferings as the body is one with the dead, we endure with Him, that with Him we may be glorified. (C.7).
FIRST INSTRUCTOR: This is the goal of every Christian’s life. Nothing else makes any sense. It is the goal of the Knights of Columbus. Every member of this Order must be transformed into another Christ, thus fulfilling the apostolic mission which has been specified by the Church itself in the Council’s challenge to associations of Catholic laymen:
READER: Associations are not ends in themselves; rather they should serve the church’s mission to the world. Their apostolic dynamism depends on their conformity with the goals of the church as well as on the Christian witness and evangelical spirit of the individual member and of the association as a whole. (L.19).
FIRST INSTRUCTOR: Conformity with the goals of the Church, Christian witness and evangelical spirit—these have always been characteristic notes of the Knights of Columbus, and never has this been so important as today, when as in the words of the Second Vatican Council:
READER: Modern conditions demand that (the apostolate of laity) be thoroughly broadened and intensified. (L.1). 
The layman can exercise his Apostolate both alone as an individual and also join with his fellow men as a member of a visible organization. This group Apostolate is especially recommended by the Council Fathers as being essential for the needs of the Church in the modern world.

READER: The faithful should exercise their apostolate by way of united effort. Let them be apostles... As well as in voluntary groups which they decide to join. This group apostolate is highly important. (L. 18)
FIRST INSTRUCTOR: But the Knights of Columbus cannot fulfill their mission unless they themselves are well-informed both spiritually and intellectually, unless they have the clear vision and the strength of virtue that so critical a. period demands. This is also the mind of the Church, as witnessed by the guidelines laid down by the Council Fathers.
READER: The apostolate can attain maximum effectiveness only through a diversified and thorough formation... This formation for the apostolate should rest upon those fundamentals which have been defended and proclaimed by this most holy council in other documents. (L. 28).
FIRST INSTRUCTOR: In keeping with this direction of the Church, the Knights of Columbus has established a program of intensive preparation aimed at the apostolic formation of the post-conciliar Christian leader. During your first year of Knighthood, you who desire to advance in this Order, will be presented the fundamentals of the Christian life in the modern world. You will be given the opportunity to “put on the Lord Jesus”—to transform yourselves into fitting representatives of Christ in the world. The Knights of Columbus can give you no greater opportunity; and it can give you no less a challenge, as the Council Fathers say:
READER: Since Christ in His mission from the Father is the fountain and source of the whole apostolate of the church, the success of the apostolate depends on the laity’s living union with Christ. (L. 4)
FIRST INSTRUCTOR: Form yourself therefore in knowledge and in grace. Be assured that your life will be richer and happier and more useful to mankind if you dedicate yourself to a full participation in the program of apostolic formation of the Knights of Columbus. Do not be afraid of this challenge. The Lord is giving you now a new opportunity for grace, a new chance to develop the divine life which you received in your baptism. Listen to what the Council says of your power as Christian laymen:
READER: For besides intimately associating them with His life and His mission, Christ also gives them a share in His priestly function of offering spiritual worship for the glory of God and the salvation of men. For this Reason the laity, dedicated to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and equipped to produce in themselves ever more abundant fruits of the spirit. For all their works, prayers, and apostolic endeavors, their ordinary married and family life, their daily labor, their mental and physical relaxation, if carried out in the spirit, and even the hardships of life, if patiently borne, all of these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
During the celebration of the eucharist, these sacrifices are most lovingly offered to the Father along with the Lord’s body. Thus, as worshippers whose every deed is holy, the laity consecrate the world itself to God. (C. 34).
FIRST INSTRUCTOR: This is your challenge; this is your opportunity; this is part of becoming a Knight of Columbus. Worthy Warden
The Instructor will pause until the Warden arrives at the salutation table and salutes the Instructor.
FIRST INSTRUCTOR: Please proceed.
The Warden will face the second instructor.
WARDEN: Worthy Instructor, the candidates await your message.
The Warden salutes and returns to his station.
SECOND INSTRUCTOR: This is part of the road to the fullness of Knighthood, the road to becoming a better, more dedicated and apostolic Christian gentleman. What was said before about the Christian carrying into the world the very presence of Lord Jesus must be defined and studied and discussed by all of us. There can be no doubt in our minds that we Christian gentlemen, we Knights of Columbus, have a great challenge and a wonderful opportunity to represent Christ. This truly is the task of the Knights of Columbus.
Remember the first words of the Second Vatican Council that were quoted at the beginning of this Degree:
READER: Each individual layman must stand before the world as a witness to the resurrection and life of the Lord Jesus and as a sign that God lives. (C.38)
SECOND INSTRUCTOR: The decrees of this sacred congress of the Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century are filled with calls to the layman to action, with challenges to the layman to play a greater role, and with the increasing understanding in the unfolding history of the Church that these are the days when the layman will save the world or it will not be saved in our time! Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit as He speaks to the world through the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council:
READER: Every layman by virtue of the very gifts bestowed upon him, is at the same time a witness and a living instrument of the mission of the church itself, “according to the measure of Christ’s bestowal”. (C. 33)
READER: For the Lord wishes to spread His kingdom by means of laity also... They must assist one another to live holier lives even in their daily occupations. (C. 36)
SECOND INSTRUCTOR: or a final quotation among so many:
READER: The laity, ... Share in the priestly, prophetic and royal office of Christ and therefore have their own role to play in the mission of the whole people of God in the church and in the world. (L. 2)
SECOND INSTRUCTOR: Basically, there are two ways in which the Catholic layman can perform his role in the building of the Body of Christ which is the Church. The first is by the witness of his own good life, and the second is through uniting with his brothers-in-Christ in an apostolic association so that his own effort to spread the Kingdom of God may be multiplied and increased by the common efforts of his fellows. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council speak of both these apostolates as necessary.
Without the ‘witness of a good life, without the constant effort to live a life of charity, it profits a man nothing to be able to say he is a Catholic, as the Council clearly reaffirms the ancient teaching:
READER: He is not saved, however, who, though he is part of the body of the church, does not preserve in charity. (C.14).
SECOND INSTRUCTOR: or to place the same thought in a more positive context, listen again to the Fathers:
READER: Since Christ in His mission from the Father is the fountain and source of the whole apostolate of the church, the success of the lay apostolate depends on the laity’s living union with Christ. (L.4)
SECOND INSTRUCTOR: So it is that the layman who does try to spend his days close to the Lord, keeping the commandments and living in charity with his fellow men, sanctifies his daily work and promotes the Kingdom of God by doing even ordinary things for the sake of Christ. Listen again to the words of the Second Vatican Council:
READER: The laity, by their very vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them all according to the plan of God. (C.31)
They are called (to the world) by God so that by exercising their proper function and being led by the spirit of the gospel, they can work  for the sanctification of the world from within in the manner of leaven. In this way they can make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity. (C.31)
SECOND INSTRUCTOR: But the apostolate of the individual, while it is essential for the growth of the Kingdom of God, is only a part of the total program of the Council. The Fathers of Vatican II teach that personal witness is essential, but they add:
READER: (This sacred synod) earnestly exhorts laymen also... To exercise their apostolate by way of united effort. Let them be apostles both in their family communities and in their parishes and dioceses, which themselves express the community nature of the apostolate, and (let them be apostles) as well in voluntary groups which they decide to join.  The group apostolate is highly important also because the apostolate must often be implemented through joint action in both the church communities and various other spheres. (L.18).
SECOND INSTRUCTOR: From here the Council Fathers go on to describe in clear and challenging terms what the Church has a right to expect from these voluntary groups who join in the Apostolate, and in a related sense to describe what we have a right to expect from the Knight of Columbus.
READER: The association established to carry the apostolate in common sustain their members, form them for the apostolate, and rightly organize and regulate their apostolic work so that much better results can be expected than if each member were to act on his own. (L.18).
Among these associations, those which promote and encourage a close harmony between the every day life of their members and their faith must be given primary consideration. (L.19).
SECOND INSTRUCTOR: We feel that such an association is the Knights of Columbus. At least it has the potential to fulfill in an extraordinary way this great new challenge of the post-conciliar Church. All that remains for this ability to be placed at the service of Christ is that we, the brothers of this Order, decide now to fulfill the injunction of St. Paul “to put on the Lord Jesus” and make ourselves worthy brothers of Christ, able and willing to make Him present in the modern world!
The Instructor will pause until the Warden arrives at the salutation table and salutes him.
SECOND INSTRUCTOR: Please proceed.
The Warden will face the District Deputy.
WARDEN: Worthy District Deputy, the candidates are ready for the final charge.
The Warden salutes the District Deputy and returns to his station.
DISTRICT DEPUTY: My Brothers: you are important in the Church. This is very clear from everything you have heard today in this Formation Degree. You are important in the Church because you are the Church and it is because you are the Church that you must form yourselves more and more according to its mind and heart, that you may play your true role in the Apostolate today.
This simply is the reason why formation is necessary and why this second stage along the road to full membership in the Knights of Columbus is dedicated to a program of increasing your understanding and insight of what it means to he a Catholic lay leader today. But this short presentation is really only symbolic, your formation as a Christian is not a matter of an hour or of a day, but of a whole lifetime. Your formation as a true Knight of Columbus in fact has only just begun.
Because it is so vital for your future effectiveness as Knights of Columbus, this Order will ask you to participate in a further program of formation to take place during the first twelve months after your reception of the Knighthood Degree. This six part program is meant to develop in each of you a greater sensitivity to your role in the Church and to develop a greater willingness to accept responsibility in its Apostolic mission.
In view of the seriousness of this duty on the part of every Knight of Columbus, I shall ask you to take a formal pledge that you are ready to accept your responsibility to participate in the six part formation program within the prescribed time. Without fulfilling this requirement no new member can be considered a Knight of Columbus in the fullest sense. The pledge is as follows and I shall repeat it once so that you may hear it first and weigh its consequences:
“On my honor as a Christian gentleman, I pledge that within one year of my reception of the Knighthood Degree, I shall participate in the six part formation program of the Knights of Columbus, thus preparing myself for responsibility as an Apostolic layman in the Church, with the realization that this program is a key to my becoming a Knight of Columbus in the fullest sense.”
WARDEN: Candidates, please rise.
DISTRICT DEPUTY: Candidates repeat pledge.
WARDEN: Please be seated.
DISTRICT DEPUTY: Worthy Warden, please proceed.
WARDEN: Worthy Grand Knight, the candidates have completed the Formation Degree and await your directions for proceeding along the road toward the fullness of Knighthood in this Order.
G.K.: My worthy brothers, I congratulate you on the completion of the middle stage of your journey. Persevere in your quest for Knighthood and by your lives demonstrate your willingness to bear witness to the presence of the Lord in the modern world. The lights are raised. The council chamber is made ready for the continuation of the meeting or proceed to close according to the manual, “The Method of Conducting a Council Meeting.”