Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
April 30, 2001
Squires aim to train leaders
Youth organization celebrating its 75th anniversary
SPECIAL TO WCR
EDMONTON — More than 100 young delegates from Columbian Squire Circles in Alberta will be celebrating the organization's 75th anniversary when they gather in Edmonton April 28 for their annual convention.
The Alberta convention will be held at Londonderry Junior High School. The Columbian Squires, aged 10 to 18 years, form the official youth organization of Knights of Columbus.
The Squires were begun by Christian Brother Barnabas McDonald in August 1925. In August 2000, the Squires began year-long 75th anniversary celebrations.
The goal of the Squires is to train its members in the art and techniques of leadership.
Squire circles have been formed in several countries and regions including United States, Canada, Mexico, Guam, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and Philippines and have a combined membership of 22,000. In Canada, there are about 70 Squire circles with a total membership of 1,000 young men. In Alberta, there are seven Squire circles of which five are in Edmonton.
According to Derrick Weems, Squires chairman for Southern Alberta, there is one circle at St. Patrick's Parish in Calgary and another in Brooks. Yet another one - at St. Thomas More Parish in Calgary — is functioning but it has not yet been officially registered. St. Thomas More Circle organized an Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday.
"St. Patrick's Circle was dormant for some time but we rejuvenated it," Weems said during a phone conversation from Calgary. He is chapter vice president in Calgary and a fourth degree knight.
Weems added, "We have received overtures from a few other parishes and Knights councils and we hope to increase the number of Squire circles in southern Alberta."
The Squires program in Alberta dates back to 1924 when Edmonton Council 1184 inaugurated circles in Edmonton, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. These Circles became inactive after some time and they were revived in 1959 by Walter Leeb of St. Christopher Council 4788.
Liam Maher serves as the State Squires Chairman for Alberta-Northwest Territories. He is impressed by the quality of leadership of the Squires.
"There are some young men who are shy but nevertheless have some organizing ability. The Squires give them an opportunity to make their mark," he said.
Maher said he has always been interested in developing leadership. "Before coming to Canada I was a Boy Scouts commissioner in Dublin, Ireland."
Maher said a parish or Knights' council can sponsor a circle. This means furnishing a meeting place for the circle and providing adult supervision. "We knights act as counsellors and give them guidance whenever necessary, " he said. Each circle has four main committees — spiritual, service, circle and membership — and these function under the supervision of counsellors.
Squires undertake a variety of community projects to raise funds some of which are donated to charitable causes. Since 1975, the Squires' Crusade Against Poverty and Project Build have raised some $50,000 through various projects.
Dying for a Drink? an alcohol awareness campaign, received the distinguished service award from the National Commission Against Drunk Driving in 1987. In Alberta, Louis Riel Circle, sponsored by Council 1184, organized a garage sale in 1999 and a few months back held a Wake-A-Thon from which they raised $500. About half this amount will be donated to Youth Emergency Fund.
When asked about the future, Maher said, "We are planning to expand this program by establishing circles outside the city of Edmonton where there are large parishes like Sherwood Park."
Matthew Hreczuch, the 16-year-old chief provincial squire, is enthusiastic about the Columbian Squires. A Grade 10 student at St. Joseph's High School, he was elected to this position in 1999.
A member of Louis Riel Circle, Hreczuch says, "Our sponsors are the members of Council 1184 Knights of Columbus. With the help of counsellors like Liam Maher, Jim Secker and Brian Koziak, we have had lots of fun and accomplished some good work."
Regarding his provincial position, Hreczuch says, "I personally enjoyed my term as chief squire. I met a lot of people. I learned a lot about what the Knights of Columbus do in the community. I've had exposure to public speaking and support from my fellow squires and my counsellors. I've learned that there is nothing we can't do if we work together."
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