At the annual meeting of the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus held in Atlantic City in August, 1922, the Most Reverend Thomas J. Walsh, Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, made a plea to the Knights of Columbus to enter the field of boy work. 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.” The sincerity and urgency of the archbishop’s request prompted Supreme Knight James A. Flaherty to name a special committee headed by then Deputy Supreme Knight, Martin H. Carmody to study the feasibility of organizing a junior order.
At about the same time that the Knights were setting up their special committee, Brother Barnabas McDonald, FSC, a Christian Brother regarded by many to be an expert in the field of youth apostolate, was working on a proposition for the Knights of Columbus to become involved in the field of boy welfare. Brother Barnabas’ plan included the formation of an elite group of boy leaders as the junior organization of the Knights of Columbus.
His plan was brought to the attention of the Knights’ special committee, which eagerly approved the proposal and recommended its adoption at the June 1923 meeting of the Board of Directors. This recommendation was formally adopted at the Supreme Council meeting in Montreal in August 1923.
Two years later, on August 4, 1925, the first Columbian Squires circle—Duluth Circle 1, Duluth, Minnesota—was instituted in ceremonies that highlighted the Knights of Columbus’ annual convention. In the years to follow, the program experienced widespread and rapid growth. Circles were instituted throughout the United States, in Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine Islands. Today, there are over 25,000 young Catholic men between the ages of 10 and 18 holding membership in and participating in the programs of approximately 1,400 Columbian Squires circles.