The details of a Knights of Columbus ceremony are kept secret to preserve the experience of new members initiating for the first time. However, the organization will admit that the ceremony is dedicated to the first principle or degree of the order, which is charity. There are four degrees of initiation: Charity is followed by unity, fraternity and patriotism.
The order was formed by Father Michael J. McGivney in an attempt to keep Catholic men from joining the type of secret societies that would challenge their Catholic ideals in 1882, according to the Knights of Columbus website. Father McGivney wanted the order to serve the community, the service of which led to the four ideals and the choice for Christopher Columbus as patron.
In accordance with the first degree, the order donated $150 million to charity as well as volunteering for millions of hours in their various communities in 2008. Members also donate a lot of time and money to organizations that help mentally and physically disabled people. In an effort to educate people about the ideals of the knights as well as Catholicism, the knights also run the Catholic Information Service, which distributes information to whoever asks for it.