Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 28, 2003
Squires promotes leadership life
Designed as a K of C precursor, Squires teaches independence
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
If you are too young to join the Knights of Columbus, you can join the Columbian Squires and become a knight in training.
The Columbian Squires are a Knights-sponsored organization for boys 10 to 18 who want to follow in the footsteps of the Knights.
It's a leadership-training program for young people, a place where the young receive the skills and moral guidance they need to succeed in life, explained Liam Maher, provincial leader of the Squires for the past five years. "This is a Catholic organization that builds character and develops leadership."
There are 175 Squires in 13 circles currently throughout Alberta. The circles' structure is similar to that of the councils of the Knights of Columbus.
Described as the Knights of Columbus' official youth organization, the Squires were begun in the United States by Christian Brother Barnabas McDonald in August 1925. The program began in Alberta around the same year when the Edmonton Council 1184 started circles in Edmonton, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.
In 2001, there were 70 Squire circles across Canada with a total membership of 1,000.
The goal of the Squires circle is to train leaders. A parish or a K of C council can sponsor a circle by furnishing a meeting place for the circle or providing adult supervision. Knights of Columbus members act as counsellors in each circle and give them guidance whenever necessary.
"The Squires program is similar in organization to the Knights of Columbus in the sense that the boys run their own programs and plan their own activities," Maher said.
"Unlike at school or in clubs such as the Boy Scouts, here nobody tells them what to do. This challenges them to get themselves organized and to plan things out."
Squires have a chance to participate in many different kinds of activities, including spiritual activities, service activities, circle activities and membership activities. Service activities include annual fundraising projects for charities such as the Youth Emergency Shelter.
Probably the most important fundraising activity the Squires run is the Wake-A-Thon, where parents, friends and teachers pledge money on each hour a participant remains awake, Maher explained. Squires raise thousands of dollars through Wake-A-thons each year, most of it going to charitable causes.
Squires also do volunteer work at churches, retirement homes and schools.
Involvement in a Squires' circle ends at age 18, when members are invited to join the Knights.
"Unlike at school or in clubs such as the Boy Scouts, here nobody tells them what to do."
- Liam Maher
Nine out 10 Squires end up joining the Knights, although not all of them right away.
Timothy James Acker, the 18-year-old chief provincial squire, said being a squire is both fulfilling and gratifying. "You get a lot of personal satisfaction that you are actually making a difference and that you are helping in the community," he said.
Acker, a Grade 12 student at Archbishop O'Leary High, said the goal of the Squires is to train its members in the art and techniques of leadership. By participating in a circle, he said, young people not only learn how to run an organization, but also acquire skills in areas such as decision-making, administration, public speaking, financial management and public relations.
"They learn a whole bunch of real world life skills," he said.