Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 17, 2010
St. Albert Squires learn leadership, community service
Four-pronged program enables 'junior knights' to build strong circle
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
ST. ALBERT - A fraternal circle of young men in St. Albert is the Brother Anthony Kowalczyk Squires Circle 4759.
The youth, between the ages of 12 and 18, develop spiritual and leadership growth under the guidance of the Knights of Columbus. The Brother Anthony Squire Circle encompasses the Holy Family Parish.
Steven Boddez, 15, took over the role of chief squire in September. The Grade 9 student said the boys assist with many community activities, including helping the Kinsmen with cleanup at the annual Rainmaker Rodeo.
They won the Brother Barnabas Award last year for putting in 150 hours of labour to clean up the rodeo grounds.
For the past four years the Squires have raised money for various causes through a bike-a-thon. More than $15,000 has been raised for such causes as Kids With Cancer and the Youth Emergency Shelter Society.
"Last year we did a bike-a-thon to raise money for AIDS in Africa," said Boddez.
The boys serve as ushers at the Saturday evening Mass. They assist with the Knights' monthly pancake breakfasts. Early in the year, the Squires help out with the parish's First Communion preparation meetings.
Other volunteer activities include setting up chairs, serving coffee, selling pro-life calendars and reading the Stations of the Cross at Holy Family Parish during Lent.
Under the direction of the older counsellors and knights, Boddez has learned a great deal about organizing monthly meetings. With these new skills, he said he will consider becoming a knight when he's older.
"I get a lot of leadership stuff. I lead meetings, not ordering others around, but giving guidance," he said.
He recommends that more youth should become Squires, and he has been able to recruit a few friends.
"Squires is like Knights under 18," he said. "Basically anybody who is Catholic would get a lot out of it."
Chief Counsellor John Kirk said the Squires concentrate on four areas.
"Membership is one, of course, because you always want to grow. The second is community service, so not necessarily Church-related but it could be. The third is spiritual.
"The last is called circle, but it's basically having fun and getting some exercise. We'll go to a school gymnasium for an hour and a half, and they can play basketball, volleyball, ball hockey, whatever," said Kirk.
Their newest responsibility is leading the rosary at Ironwood Estates, an independent seniors community.
"Two or three of the boys take turns on the decades and they go right through the rosary. It's really popular, and the residents who are Catholic are there at quarter to 7 with their rosaries ready," said Kirk.
"That's a wonderful commitment that they do, and I want to do it more at different seniors lodges. But I'm being careful about not getting these kids in over their head. I don't want to lose any."
Kirk determined that the Squires were taking on too many activities, and decided to reduce their volunteer workload this year.
"We've basically had to back off on a few activities because I felt that the boys were getting burned out. We lost four or five key members last year, and one of the main reasons is they committed too much time," said Kirk.
GROUP OF 20
An activity the Squires have eliminated is helping with the Special Olympics. In the past, they assisted with the bowling program and helped with an annual floor hockey tournament.
Currently there are 20 registered Squires, about half of whom are active in the group.
The Squires have won many awards over the years, including State Circle of the Year, Corps d'Elite Awards, and the City of St. Albert's youth group of the year award.
"You grow up playing in the playground with one group of friends. You go to the hockey rink with a different group of friends. You're in phys-ed with another group of friends.
"Here you can practise your Catholic spirit with a different group of friends, ones that aren't going to ridicule you or beat you up. They all have their different strengths, and it's kind of neat to see the gifts that they bring to the circle and make it stronger," Kirk said.
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