I joined the Knights of Columbus, the leading Catholic fraternal society, five years ago. Initiation into the Knights took place through three “exemplifications” meant to introduce men to the Knights’ principles of charity, unity, and fraternity. These ceremonies took place in private and generally with men whom I had just met, since the ceremonies took place across the Greater Philadelphia area at various points throughout the year.

I’m honored to be a Knight, but I also recognized that the ceremonials would likely have to change if they were to continue achieving their purpose of equipping Knights to embody their principles. Now, the Knights are doing that:

The Knights of Columbus has announced a major revision to its longtime initiation ceremonies and for the first time will open them to the public, saying the changes are needed to become more appealing to prospective members and to respond to a “crisis” in church membership.

“Today, we need an exemplification of our principles that presents, in a clear and convincing way, how charity, unity and fraternity can come together to form a Catholic way of life for today’s man and his family,” Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson said in the January 2020 issue of Columbia magazine.

The rituals of the Knights, sometimes called ceremonies or exemplifications, have for decades been separated into first, second and third degrees focused respectively on the principles of Charity, Unity and Fraternity, the first three principles of the Catholic men’s fraternity founded in Connecticut in 1882 by Father Michael J. McGivney.

The Knights of Columbus now claim about 1.9 million members in 15,900 local councils in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Poland, Ukraine, South Korea and several other countries.

I think it’s especially important that new Knights will be welcomed in the presence of their families.