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K. of C. Squires: the name is medieval, but their goals aren't

Despite its medieval-sounding name, the Columbian Squires, an international youth group of the Knights of Columbus, was founded in Duluth, Minnesota in 1925 by Brother Barnabas McDonald, F.S.C.—a pioneer in dealing with delinquents and orphans. Considered to be a good way to build character in teenage Catholic boys, the Squires wasn’t a bad idea, given the complexities and pitfalls of every day life that teens have always seemed to experience.  


Searching for the Squires’ beginnings in the Savannah Diocese requires going back to 1927 when a Savannah circle of Columbian Squires was organized. Thirty-two boys took part in this investiture. Several months earlier, the Savannah Squires had unofficially begun under the direction of Eugene G. Butler and William J. Bergin. Cyril Max, head of Jacksonville Squires, traveled from Jacksonville, to direct the 1927 investiture.              

      
In line with the Squires’ name, the new group’s members had the opportunity to advance through levels familiar in knighthood: page, shield bearer, swordsman, lancer, and finally, level 5: squire of the body of Christ. Frequent notices of their meetings and events in the Bulletin of the Catholic Laymen’s Association gave ample proof that the Squires had hold in the diocese throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Then, as now, youth in their teens were encouraged to join the group. With their Maltese Cross emblem and the motto, “Esto Dignus” (“Be worthy”), the Squires have always sought to bring out the best in those who signed on with them.


The Columbian Squires remained pretty much the same until 1996 when the Virginia State Council of the Knights of Columbus officially endorsed a change in their membership to keep with the times. This change, formation of a girls Squires group, was predictable: Girls were admitted to it under the name of “Squire Roses.” This variation of the organization would have its own logos, slogans and ceremonies independent of the original Squires. Fittingly, a coin was created, which showed the emblem of both the Squires and the Squire Roses on either side of it with the motto, “Squires and Squire Roses, two sides of the same coin.”


 A listing of Columbian Squires in the state of Georgia reveals a number of circles in the Atlanta Archdiocese but only one in the Diocese of Savannah: Islands Circle No. 5669 of Wilmington Island, which is affiliated with Islands Council No. 10579. About 14 Squires in their mid-teens are currently members of Islands Circle No. 5669, under the direction of Robert Seginack.


At the present time, as the Knights of Columbus organization seeks to evaluate the group’s role in today’s parish activities, no new assemblies are being created, though existing Squires groups continue to be supported throughout the country and the world by the Knights of Columbus. “The Georgia State Circle,” as noted on the internet, “works closely with the Georgia State Council of the Knights of Columbus and is the official youth program of the Knights of Columbus. These Squires,” this source observes, “are active participants in their parishes, community and country. There are currently 12 circles and over 200 Squires in the state.”   


Columnist Rita H. DeLorme is a volunteer in the Diocesan Archives. She can be reached at rhdelorme@diosav.org.

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