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What are the Columbian Squires?
Membership in the Columbian Squires means many things to many people. To some it means being part of a worldwide organization of young Catholic men, and to others it means being part of a small parish or community youth group. Some look upon their membership as a chance to change the world through volunteer involvement in the Church and the community; and others look upon membership as a way they can simply help their pastor, neighbor, school or parish. Being a member of the Columbian Squires means all of these things and more. It means being a leader—someone who knows what to do and when to do it. Sometimes, it means showing others the way, and at other times following their lead. Actively participating in programs, serving as an officer, making decisions, attending meetings and conventions—these are the things that Columbian Squires do.
Emblem of the Columbian Squires
The Squires emblem symbolizes the ideals which identify a squire. On the arms of a maltese cross are the letters “P,” which represents the physical development necessary to make the body as strong as the spirit; “I,” which stands for the intellectual development needed for cultural and mental maturity; “S,” which represents the spiritual growth and practice of our faith and “C,” which stands for the development of citizenship and civic life. The larger letters “C,” representing Christ; “S,” Squires; and “K,” the Knights of Columbus by whom the Squires program is sponsored, are intertwined in the center of the cross. They are the three foundations of the program. “Esto Dignus,” the Squires’ motto encircling the emblem, is Latin for “Be Worthy.”
“How did the Squires get started?”
At the annual meeting of the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus held in Atlantic City in August, 1922, the Most Reverend Thomas J. Walsh, Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, made a plea to the Knights of Columbus to enter the field of boy work. He said, “If the Knights of Columbus will take care of the growing boy, then the boy grown into manhood will take care not only of the Knights of Columbus, but of the Church and the nation as well.” The sincerity and urgency of the archbishop’s request prompted Supreme Knight James A. Flaherty to name a special committee headed by then Deputy Supreme Knight, Martin H. Carmody to study the feasibility of organizing a junior order. At about the same time that the Knights were setting up their special committee, Brother Barnabas McDonald, FSC, a Christian Brother regarded by many to be an expert in the field of youth apostolate, was working on a proposition for the Knights of Columbus to become involved in the field of boy welfare. Brother Barnabas’ plan included formation of an elite group of boy leaders as the junior organization of the Knights of Columbus. His plan was brought to the attention of the Knights’ special committee, which eagerly approved the proposal and recommended its adoption at the June, 1923 meeting of the Board of Directors. This recommendation was formally adopted at the Supreme Council meeting in Montreal in August, 1923. Two years later, on August 4, 1925, the first Columbian Squires circle—Duluth Circle 1, Duluth, Minnesota—was instituted in ceremonies that highlighted the Knights of Columbus’ annual convention. In the years to follow, the program experienced widespread and rapid growth. Circles were instituted throughout the United States, in Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippine Islands. Today, there are over 25,000 young Catholic men between the ages of 10 and 18 holding membership in and participating in the programs of approximately 1,400 Columbian Squires circles.
“What is a Circle?”
Squires are organized into units or groups called “circles” which are sponsored by either a Knights of Columbus council or assembly. (A minimum of ten young men is needed to form a circle.) The sponsoring council or assembly provides a meeting location for the circle. Responsibility for the conduct of the circle is retained by the sponsoring council’s advisory board. Each circle has four elected officers and four appointed officers. The circle’s presiding officer is the chief squire. The other officers are: deputy chief squire, notary and bursar who are elected each June; and the marshal, sentry, arm captain and pole captain who are all appointed by the chief squire. The chief squire also appoints the chairmen of the spiritual, service, circle and membership activities committees. Another circle officer is the father prior, who must be a priest. He is appointed by the grand knight of the sponsoring council or by the faithful navigator of the sponsoring assembly. The Supreme Council Department of Fraternal Services at the Knights of Columbus office in New Haven, Connecticut helps to spur growth and create unity between Squires circles by planning and promoting Orderwide campaigns. The Department of Fraternal Services also publishes the monthly SQUIRES NEWSLETTER, which helps keep every Squire, counselor and Knights of Columbus leader informed of programs and activities. The Supreme Council office also provides handbooks and training aides to the local council leadership and membership to help develop the full potential of each member and every circle.
“What is the purpose of the Columbian Squires?”
Section II, Article II of the Laws and Rules of the Columbian Squires states the object of the program to be: “the spiritual, cultural, civic, social and physical improvement of its members, and the development of their leadership qualities.” COLUMBIA, the monthly magazine of the Knights of Columbus, has described the aims of the Columbian Squires similarly: “… to prepare Catholic young men to become leaders among their fellow citizens.” Since the founding of the Columbian Squires, these intentions have been steadfastly pursued.Currently, leadership training takes place in four activities areas: spiritual, circle, membership and service. The spiritual activities committee of the circle is responsible for planning programs of a religious nature, like retreats, visits to seminaries, vocations-related programs, monthly Squire-parents Masses and others. The circle activities committee is responsible for planning programs that promote brotherhood among members and promote the image of the circle in the community via public relations efforts. This committee also coordinates circle athletic events. The membership activities committee is in charge of all circle membership campaigns and the recruitment and retention of members. Committee members should encourage support and participation among all members in both Orderwide and state/provincial membership activities. The goal of this committee is simple: make every member an active recruiter for the Columbian Squires. Finally, the service activities committee is responsible for planning volunteer involvement programs for the circle within the community. Food drives, fund raising events for local, national and international charities, visits to shut-ins and the elderly, community wide clean-up days and similar programs fall under the jurisdiction of the service activities committee.The common thread running through each of these activities is the leadership training it offers. Every squire has opportunities to run for an office, to serve as an activity committee chairman and to be actively involved in debating issues the circle should address.More specifically, squires have the opportunity to develop many leadership skills through active participation in the circle. For example, squires exercise their public speaking and debating abilities by voicing their opinions in discussions, and by making reports. Officers and committee chairmen are able to sharpen their decision-making, program administration and parliamentary procedure skills. Most importantly, members develop their confidence, trustworthiness, loyalty, piety, honesty, humility and charity.
Now it’s your turn!
Get involved in circle activities. By taking an active role in the circle, participating in circle business meetings, serving on the investiture team and volunteering your time on programming activity committees, you will learn about circle operations and develop leadership skills.The Columbian Squires offers every young man opportunities to help himself while he’s helping others in his parish and his community. Get the most out of your membership in the Columbian Squires by actively participating in your circle. It is now your turn to become a leader!If you would like more information on membership in the Columbian Squires, please feel free to contact the Grand Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org