Squires grant wish at the Place 2B
Wautoma youth organization honored for building project
By Polly Zimmerman
When members of the St. George Circle of the Columbian Squires learned they were to receive a national award from their sponsoring organization -- the Knights of Columbus -- they decided to share the honor with Fr. Martin Carr.
The Wautoma area youth organization has established a tradition of Mother's Day and Father's Day breakfasts as fund-raisers to meet needs in the community. The breakfasts started in 1998 and, until summer 2001, have helped cancer victims, without regard to faith, pay for their treatment regimens.
But last summer, in response to the annual Compass Lenten Giving/Easter Joy Wish List, the Squires decided to help Fr. Carr with a building program to unify services at The Place 2B in Oshkosh. The facility at the corner of Oshkosh Avenue and Koeller Street, adjacent to Highway 41, was one of the many agencies listed last year -- and again this year -- with wishes that need meeting.
Robert Gossens, director of fraternal services for the national Knights of Columbus, announced last fall that the Wautoma youth group would be receiving a Brother Barnabas Award for their project on behalf of Father Carr's Place 2B.
The citation praised the group's "singular activity" and was one of 75 selected nationwide in recognition of the Squires' Diamond Anniversary Year.
Plaque in hand, representatives of the circle visited The Place 2B last month to present their plaque to Fr. Carr. Three young men -- Chief Squire Louis Johannes, Peter Welch, circle notary, and Ben Kirmse, bursar -- were joined by David Johannes, a former member of the Columbian Circle and now Grand Knight of the University of Wisconsin Catholic Center Knights of Columbus Council 6568.
Fred Johannes, state coordinator for the Squires program, KC State Deputy Carl Templin, Bill Cross, chief adviser to the college Knights, and Dr. Eugene Sonnleitner of the Oshkosh Council also were on hand to honor Fr. Carr and his far-reaching mission.
Construction of facilities at The Place 2B is proceeding well. Nearing completion is a refuge to be named The Bethlehem Inn. It will provide more than 80 rooms for men and a new home for the St. Francis Free Clinic. Plans have been made for a second similar building, the Holy Family Villa, to provide a separate shelter for women and children. A grotto honoring the Blessed Virgin is planned for the entry to the facilities.
Plans call for the first building to be ready for occupancy by St. Patrick's Day, Fr. Carr said. It will include a chapel and a library on each residence floor, an enlarged free health clinic -- with a separate entrance -- a new dental health clinic and a Christ-centered "800" suicide and crisis hotline. The focus on a food program and soup kitchen will continue.
Fr. Carr's ministry to youth -- retreats and counseling -- has continued to grow through the years and the reputation of the program and its priest has brought groups from inside and outside the state.
Retreats are not limited to Catholic young people but seek to reinforce the Catholic dedication to ecumenical outreach. Often the young people spend much of their time volunteering to serve the disadvantaged who depend on the facility for aid.
"Mother Teresa advocated living more simply 'so others can simply live' " Fr. Carr said. His concern is the young people who, he says, "need to understand and live out the spiritual life -- to feel the presence of God and the forgiveness with which the scriptures are so rich. We need to forgive. People are waiting to be invited back, to be welcomed home."
The members of the St. George Circle are determined to do their part.
With the assistance of the University of Wisconsin Catholic Center council of the Knights of Columbus in Madison, the Squires Circle was able to present checks totaling $1,800 to help Fr. Carr's projects.
The support of several area businesses has been invaluable to the Squires and the success of their annual projects. Copps and Pick'N'Save grocery stores, Kwik Trip and Hardees in both Oshkosh and Wautoma have contributed food and work hours to help their profits grow. Aid Association for Lutherans has matched funds for the cancer victims in past years. Certificates of recognition were presented to each of the donors.