Columbian Squires of Council 12788

The following information on the Columbian Squires is used with permission from the Michigan State Squires.  We gratfully thank them for their assistance.


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.

“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 which consists of the council’s grand knight, deputy grand knight and chaplain. In the case of an assembly, the advisory board consists of the faithful navigator, faithful captain and faithful prior.


Each circle has four elected officers and four appointed ones. 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’s the purpose of the 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!

Squires Emblem.

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,” the 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.”

Significant Achievements in Squires History


First investiture of Columbian Squires held at 43rd annual meeting of the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus in Duluth, Minnesota.


First circle instituted in Canada: Montreal Circle #3, sponsored by Council #284.


COLOMBIAN SQUIRES HERALD begins publishing as monthly newspaper; first “Best Circle” competition, international bowling tournament, and state circle convention of squires (California); crusade for increased participation in Mass and communion is initiated.


Squires membership numbers 11,000 young men in 368 circles; first circle is established in Cuba: San Christobal de la Havana Circle #312 in Havana, sponsored by Council #1390. Former Squires give their lives in World War II (Jim Gillis, Richard Dempsey, Robert Norby); Squires join Knights in $25 million war bond drive; first circle established in Mexico: Torreon Circle #408, sponsored by Council #2348.


Silver Jubilee of the Squires’ founding; first circle established in Philippines: Cebu Circle #623, sponsored by Council #3106; Boy Life Bureau becomes “Columbian Squires Department;” Board of Directors votes to affiliate Squires Department with youth department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference; 100 new circles developed in a single year; COLOMBIAN SQUIRES HERALD observes 25th publication anniversary (1955); Supreme Knight’s “Special Service Citation Award” begins (first recipients: Henry Dengel, Joseph Thomasen, Reverend Michael Keane, Eugene Schwerzler, Joseph Bivens, and Edward Ramden); Oratorical contest topic, “Should Mass be Said in English?” predates authorization by ten years; first circle instituted in Panama Canal Zone: Reverend William E. McKeon’s Circle #707, sponsored by Council #1376.


Rose,” a sterling silver rose was brought by Canadian Squires to American Squires, relayed to Mexican Squires, and delivered to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, where a special Mass was celebrated on December 12 and the rose was permanently ensconced; J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the F.B.I., addresses special commendation to the Columbian Squires; Pope John XXIII imparts special “fatherly Apostolic Benediction” in appreciation of Squires’ “spiritual bouquet;” Squires promote the cause of sainthood for Bishop Neuman; Squires make
$5000 gift to Propagation of the Faith; former Squire Terry In “Operation McDermott wins 500-meter speed skating championship at 9th Winter Olympic Games (only U.S. gold medal in 1964); Mexican Squires hold their first state circle convention; Peter Hornyak and Stephen D’Amato first recipients of Knights of Columbus Pro Deo and Pro Patria college scholarships; former Squire “Sudden” Sam McDowell, Cleveland Indians pitcher, named to American League All-Star Team; former Squire Milton Ockman, New Orleans, awarded 1st and 2nd place gold medals by Marine Corps for bravery in combat in Vietnam.
Columbian Squires throughout the Order collected $5,000 in 1964 for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. William L. Piedmont, director of the Columbian Squires program, presented the check to Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, national director or the society.


Colombian Squires Department merges with Service Department, COLUMBIAN SQUIRES HERALD becomes SQUIRES NEWSLETTER; first circle instituted in Guatemala: Hermano Pedro de Befancourt Circle #2174, sponsored by council #6017; Supreme Council initiates awards for the state deputies with highest net increase and highest percentage of net increase in circles; Golden Anniversary of Squires (1975); 50 best counselors chosen for golden anniversary celebration; Squires begin “Johnny Horizon ’76” clean-up campaign; change in Squire ceremonials authorized; “Crusade Against Poverty” raises $15,000 from individual Squires, is matched by the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus, and a check for $30,000 is presented to Pope Paul VI for the poor of the world; “Project Build” raises over $38,000 for the New Guinea trade school and youth hostel project.


First circle instituted in Guam: Monsignor Jose A. Leon Guerrero Circle #2947, sponsored by Council #5666; “Make a Friend a Squire” campaign increases membership in the Columbian Squires to over 22,000; “Dying for a Drink” alcohol awareness program is launched. Program honored with Distinguished Service Award from National Commission Against Drunk Driving in Washington, D.C.; Orderwide goal of “A Circle In Every Council” established; Board of Directors streamlines circle operations; number of active circles exceeds 1000; “Operation Uplift” raises $27,000 to help in the restoration of St. Mary’s Church, the birthplace of the Knights of Columbus (in New Haven, Connecticut). Monument to Brother Barnabas relocated from Ontario to site near his grave in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, New York.


Columbian Squires/Fourth Degree funded elevator installation completed at St. Mary’s Church; “Discover the Squires” membership campaign in recognition of Columbus Quincentennial and “Discover the Squires —Honor the Pope” membership campaign help raise Squires membership to over 26,000. Squires from circles in Kansas, Ontario, Texas, North Carolina, Colorado, British Columbia and other locations joined Pope John Paul II and 186,000 other young people in celebrating World Youth Day ’93 in Denver, Colorado. “Family, Friends & Fun” membership campaign during 1994 “International Year of the Family” helps boost Squires membership to over 30,000. Nassau Circle 4087 sponsored by Nassau Council 10,415 is first Squires circle instituted in the Bahamas. Thousands of Philippine Squires plan participation in World Youth Day ’95 in Manila with Pope John Paul II.

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