National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Boys II Disciples

Former U.S. Marine Dan McGuire launched Blue Knights Boys Clubs to show boys that following Christ can be as manly and exciting as playing sports or going hunting. By Marge Fenelon.

BY MARGE FENELON

April 1-7, 2007 Issue | Posted 3/27/07 at 9:00 AM

 

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Just so, what’s good for little girls is good for little boys. That thought spurred Dan McGuire to put together the materials for Blue Knights Boys Club, a Catholic activity program for boys 6 through 12 that makes catechesis both fun and functional.

Blue Knights Boys Club is modeled after the Little Flowers Girls Club, a Catholic program for girls 5 and up that strives to bring the Catholic faith alive and inspire girls to become authentic Catholic women.

“I got the idea from watching my daughter Meg enjoy the Little Flowers,” Dan says. “I thought there should be a similar group for boys. I used the Little Flowers materials as a guide, and was working on my master’s degree in theological studies, so the theology part was pretty straightforward.”

Having the time and energy to follow through on such a project isn’t as simple as the energetic, highly motivated dad makes it sound. Dan and his wife, Kristen, have eight children, ages 2 to 16. Some have special needs. Not only was Dan working on a graduate degree at the time he wrote the Blue Knights guide, but he was also on active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps, studying Latin in preparation for his doctorate and teaching religious education at his parish.

“Dan’s very unusual,” says Kristen. “He’s very efficient with his time. He wrote the Blue Knights guide during his lunch hours.”

Kristen, also an author with her own Catholic women’s apostolate, appreciates Dan’s time-management expertise. She’s also thankful for the way they’ve learned to work together as a couple so that both can complete the work they believe God intends them to do.

Dan authored the Blue Knights program, but Kristen contributed too. Additionally, the couple travels the country for speaking engagements on topics related to homeschooling and special-needs children.

Says Kristen, “We really try to cultivate the concept of being helpmates to each other.”

Can-Do Charism

That’s evident in the way the McGuires opened their Stafford, Va., home to the first Blue Knights Boys Club members.

Jim Benisek, director of religious education for St. William of York Catholic Church in Stafford, remembers the generosity of the McGuires in getting the program off the ground.

“They have a large number of children themselves, yet they opened their house to all 20 boys and their dads,” says Benisek. Not only did they provide the leadership and hospitality, he adds, but also the preparation and groundwork for a fairly involved program.

One of the most memorable meetings Benisek observed included the “knighting” of boys who had completed the program. Dan donned a monks’ robe, drew his military sword and held a commissioning ceremony. In a solemn display, he required the boys’ obedience to the magisterium of the Church and then installed them as Blue Knights with a tap of the sword on each shoulder.

“It was an incredibly moving event,” Benisek recalls. “Blue Knights is the work of the Holy Spirit. Dan had a good idea, put his faith in God and went with the idea — and it bore fruit.”

The McGuires have since moved to Milwaukee and the Blue Knights Boys Club has mushroomed into at least 400 active groups around the United States and Canada. It’s also being used on a military base in Guam.

Dan McGuire says one of the greatest benefits of the program is the opportunity it affords him to collaborate with his sons. The goal of the Blue Knights Boys Club is to involve fathers in their sons’ religious education. McGuire hopes boys will see that following Christ can be as manly and exciting as playing sports or going hunting.

“You make time for what is important,” Dan says of his apostolate. “Most of the time when people are ‘too busy,’ it’s a matter of lifestyle choice.”

Dan, who recently completed his doctorate in theology, will start a new job in Montana this summer. Chances are a new Blue Knights chapter will soon spring up in Big Sky Country.

Gentle Strength

The McGuires’ dedication to the Church is reflected not only in the enthusiasm of their apostolate but also in the character of their family. They’re actively involved in their parish, St. Catharine of Alexandria, where the children have been involved in liturgical ministry as lectors and altar servers while also participating in plays, summer youth programs and other goings-on.

“Dan and Kristen are marvelously gifted in many ways. It shows in their children,” says Father Jack Kern, their pastor. “The McGuires have a great variety of sizes, personalities, gifts and approaches that all somehow blend and cooperate together. There’s a oneness about them that’s evident in their faith.”

Father Kern remembers attending a baseball game with Dan and the children.

“The one little girl had to use the bathroom about every third inning,” Father Kern recalls. “Dan showed amazing patience with her and took her every time. For a sportsman like Dan who didn’t want to miss the first pitch, that had to be a big sacrifice.”

Kristen points out that she and Dan are leery about sounding like they’re perfect parents of a perfect family because that’s not the case. Rather, she says, their activities and involvements stem from gratitude.

“Both of us are so grateful for what God has given us,” she says. “You see that in your life and you just have to share it. Even the dumb mistakes — we share what we’ve learned there, too.”

Marge Fenelon writes from

Cudahy, Wisconsin.