The Columbian Squires began in Atlantic City in August of 1922, at the annual Knights of Columbus Supreme Council meeting. During the course of that meeting, The Most Reverend Thomas J. Walsh, the Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, challenged the Knights of Columbus to focus on the development of young men in the Catholic Church. 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.” That challenge was met by Supreme Knight, James A. Flaherty, who developed a special committee, which was led by the then Deputy Supreme Knight, Martin H. Carmody, to focus on organizing this new youth order.
While the Knights worked on setting up their committee, Brother Barnabas McDonald, FSC, a Christian Brother, was also working on a similar proposal for the Knights of Columbus, encouraging them to develop a youth organization similar to the Knights of Columbus, with the goal transforming young men into Catholic leaders within their respective communities. This proposal was brought forward to the Knight’s special committee, which recommended its application at the Board of Directors meeting in June of 1923. Its adoption was formalized at the Supreme Council meeting in Montreal in August of 1923.
On August 4, 1925, the first Columbian Squires circle – Duluth Circle 1, Duluth, Minnesota – was invested in ceremonies that were the highlight of the Knights of Columbus’ convention that year. Since that time, the Columbian Squires program has flourished, and expanded across international borders. Circles have been instituted throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippine Islands. Today, there are over 22,000 squires between the ages of 10 and 18, as well as approximately 1,000 Columbian Squires circles.