Wautoma youth lead way
Teens in Columbian Squires work to help cancer patients and Fr. Carr's Place 2 Be
Last in a Respect Life Month series
By Polly Zimmerman
A group of concerned young men is making a difference in the western area of the Green Bay Diocese.
The St. George Circle of the Columbian Squires numbers fewer than two dozen teens, but their efforts to aid area cancer victims in the Wautoma-Redgranite-Wild Rose area has inspired both church and business communities.
Since establishment of the circle in 1997, members have raised significant amounts to support therapy for three local cancer patients and have expanded their program to include an Oshkosh facility.
They have done their fund-raising in the kitchen.
Each summer since 1998 the young men have cooked and served both Mother's Day and Father's Day breakfasts, now becoming a tradition in the communities. Aid Association for Lutherans has joined in their efforts, contributing matching funds. The recipients have been determined by need rather than church membership, an appreciated ecumenical policy.
Funds from the 2001 breakfasts have been designated for Fr. Martin Carr's Place 2 Be. The Oshkosh refuge, free clinic and retreat center is undergoing a major expansion, bringing together facilities formerly split between the city's downtown and its Koeller Street location.
Nationally, the Squires program was founded in 1925 under the sponsorship of the Knights of Columbus. A circle in Duluth, Minn., was the first in the United States.
Squires has been described as "a dynamic international leadership development program that provides fun, friendship, service opportunities and spiritual development." More than 25,000 young Catholic men, ages 12 to 18, are members in circles throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, the Philippines and Guam.
Circles must have a minimum membership of 10 for instituting or reactivating. Each circle is sponsored by a Knights of Columbus council, members of which provide an adequate staff of adult leaders (counselors) as well as meeting facilities. All counselors must be members of the Knights of Columbus.
State coordinator for the Squires is Fred Johannes of Wautoma, a former Grand Knight of Sacred Heart Council 6228 of St. Joseph Parish in Wautoma. The circle is one of three active groups in the state and the only one in the Green Bay Diocese.
Johannes said a Knights council in Altoona is organizing a circle, and interest has been shown in five additional councils, including Pulaski, Neenah and Oshkosh in this diocese.
The Squires program is self-supporting and offers a wide range of activities. Civic, cultural and spiritual programs benefit members and involve the circles in projects to benefit the poor, elderly, handicapped and disadvantaged members of the community.
In addition, there are competitions, conventions and trips to widen members' horizons. Members also are eligible to apply for college scholarships and student loans, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.