Squires Learn To Serve Before Being Knighted
Every Tuesday evening a youth group known as the Squires, a subsidiary of the St. Pius X Knights of Columbus Council # 4541, gather to plan, delegate and think of ways to serve their community. They sit in a circle before the Chief Squire, preparing to vote on how to raise funds for their next big event.
“When children come to the meetings, they learn to be leaders, not followers,” said Chief Councilor for the Squires Joe Capo. “Our boys participate in everything from blood drives to toy drives to fundraisers, donations and dinners.”
A Catholic organization, the Squires are comprised of males ages 10 to 18. The Canarsie chapter, the Steven E. Knapp Circle, is one of hundreds across the country that conducts charitable work in their community. The circle, established in 1959, is named after its first Grand Knight. Locally, the circle works with St. Jude, Our Lady Of Miracles and Holy Family churches.
“We are always looking to recruit,” said councilor Jimmy Latham. “Since we do a lot of charity work with St. Jude, we go to the school often and introduce ourselves then invite students to come to the Knights of Columbus on Tuesday evening and see what goes on.”
The group, which meets for a half hour at 1402 East 94 Street operates like the Knights of Columbus. Members have the responsibility of keeping track of motions made, taking votes on different suggestions and managing finances for planned events. They also have an installation of officers and decide on whether a potential recruit is qualified to join the organization.
“Councilors will do the initial interviewing but the squires conduct their own interview with an applicant,” said Grand Knight Robert Pfundstein. “If they don’t think the person is joining for the right reasons, they’ll tell us.”
After being interviewed, perspective members undergo a series of degrees, or initiation processes, which are universal and known only by organization members.
Fifteen-year-old Chief Squire Oliver Jacques-Simon has been with the squires for three years and said, “I enjoy being here not just to be with my fellow brothers after school, but it helps me learn about myself and how I can help the community. My favorite event has to be during Christmas when we collect gifts to give to sick children at the hospital.”
When the location of the Knights of Columbus changed from Conklin Avenue to East 94th Street near Avenue L, the circle was dormant for a short period. They have been at the current location for three years and presently have over a dozen squires.
The Squires also congregate with other circles, recruit on a yearly basis and they attend conferences in Upstate New York.
“Right now, the brothers are getting ready to raise money for an Italian dinner, which will be held in June” said Capo. “They’re discussing how to get the funding and who they can reach out to.”
Last November, the youths raised money for Thanksgiving turkeys that were donated to the firefighters of Engine Co. 257, Ladder Co. 170.
“We just put out the idea for them to do something for Thanksgiving and the rest was entirely their responsibility,” said councilor Jimmy Latham. “They decided to give back to the guys who do so much for their community. So they came up with a plan, discussed with each other who to give a donation to and we thought that was very generous of them. Sometimes we’re really surprised by the things they come up with and the level of respect they have for their community is amazing. ”
For the most part, said Capo, councilors serve as interveners when Squires need help. “The kids pretty much run the meetings themselves,” he said.
John Ezimoha, Deputy Grand Knight, said, “Parents are very supportive because they know they’re sending their children to a safe place with good people who will give their children so many skills. They also notice they’re kids do better in school and become role models for each other.”
After turning 18, Squires can be sworn in as Knights.
“The kids see the walls with pictures of all the past Grand Knights – many who have been strong community leaders – and they want to achieve that respected title,” said Pfundstein. “What you put into the organization is what you get out of it and you can’t really explain all that goes on here. You have to be a part of it to know what we’re really about.”