Knights of Columbus Expand Fourth Degree Membership Among Overseas Military with Induction in Europe

120 Sir Knights based in three European nations enter K of C’s highest degree; new assembly and district created

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, GERMANY—The Knights of Columbus (K of C), the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization based in New Haven, Connecticut, further expanded its overseas ranks of Fourth Degree Knights serving in the U.S. military Saturday with an induction ceremony, Mass and banquet at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. More than 340 people attended.
During the ceremony, known as an “exemplification,” 120 men, active duty military personnel, Department of Defense (DOD) workers and retirees based in Germany, Italy and England, entered into the Fourth Degree, also known as the “Patriotic Degree,” the highest degree of the order, which carries the title of “Sir Knight.”

The primary purpose of the Fourth Degree is to foster the spirit of patriotism and to encourage active Catholic citizenship. The inductees included four priests and five father-son pairs. The senior ranking member of the class was Rear Admiral John G. Messerschmidt, U.S. Navy.

The exemplification, conducted at the officer’s club, also marked creation of the Father H. Timothy Vakoc Assembly 3373—the K of C’s first assembly in Europe—as well as the Fourth Degree Overseas Military Special District, Europe, the order’s first European district. The District Master, Brother Scott Dunn, Lt. Col. USAF (Ret.), presided.

His Excellency, the Most Reverend F. Richard Spencer, Episcopal Vicar for Europe and Asia of the Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS),and the Honoree for this historic exemplification, celebrated Mass at 5 p.m. in the base chapel, followed by a banquet in the officer’s club.

The newly-inducted Sir Knights belong to the following councils and roundtable: Chaplain (MAJ) Charles J. Watters Council 8792 Stuttgart, Germany; LTG. Timothy J. Maude Council 10292 Weisbaden, Germany; Father Emil J. Kapaun Council 11987 Ramstein, Germany; Saint George East Council 14233 East Anglia, England; Padre Pio Council 14293 Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy; Padre Marco D’Aviano Council 14538 Aviano Air Base, Italy; San Gennaro Council 14853 Naples, Italy; Roundtable at Rose Barracks Vilseck, Germany.

This is the third overseas exemplification the K of C has conducted for U.S. servicemen this year. Last weekend at Camp Zama, Japan, 26 entered into the Fourth Degree in the new Saint Lorenzo Ruiz Assembly 3372; and in April at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, Korea, 43 became Sir Knights in the new Bishop Joseph W. Estabrook Assembly 3348.


The AMS was created as an independent archdiocese by Pope John Paul II in 1985 as the only Catholic jurisdiction responsible for endorsing and granting faculties for priests to serve as chaplains in the U.S. military and VA Medical Centers.

AMS-endorsed chaplains serve at more than 220 U.S. military installations in 29 countries, making the AMS the nation’s only global archdiocese. AMS-endorsed chaplains also serve at 153 VA Medical Centers throughout the U.S.

The AMS service population also includes American Catholic civilians working for the federal government in 134 countries, but currently, due to limited resources, the AMS cannot adequately serve this population.

Worldwide, an estimated 1.8 million Catholics depend on the AMS to meet their spiritual and sacramental needs.

For more information on the Archdiocese for the Military Services,, the only official Web site for Catholics in the military and for the Cause of Father Vincent Capodanno, M.M