By Dan Russo
DUBUQUE — Dozens of Boy Scouts from around the archdiocese gathered for an appreciation Mass recently where they were presented with several types of religious emblems, earned after learning about and living out their faith.
The liturgy, concelebrated by Archbishop Michael Jackels and Father Dwayne Thoman, pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Dubuque, took place at St. Raphael Cathedral.
Dressed in full uniform, scouts of different ages and levels and their families processed in to begin the Jan. 24 Mass. During his homily, the archbishop emphasized that the young peoples’ spiritual journey is a lifelong process.
“If you’re learning something about Jesus to get an award today, it doesn’t stop there,” said Archbishop Jackels. “As followers of Jesus, what do we do? We imitate him. So you have to grow long hair and a beard and wear sandals, right?”
“NO!” shouted one of the youngest scouts sitting near the front, which led to a few laughs, before the archbishop continued.
“This is a way we imitate Jesus — coming to church on Sunday and participating fully,” he said. “The practice of our faith also comes in practicing our faith outside of church … What we do outside of church on Monday when we see someone in need, we respond.”
After the homily, close to 100 scouts received awards, including the Light of Christ Emblem for Cub Scouts in the first and second grades, Parvuli Dei, for scouts who have received first communion but are not yet in sixth grade, and AD Altare Dei, for scouts ages 12-17. Each emblem requires study and projects completed outside of regular scout meetings and commitments.
“It was a lot of work, but it was worth it,” said scout Cody Clemenson. “There were classes every Sunday. We went over all the sacraments.”
Clemenson is part of Troop 42 at St. Pius X Parish in Cedar Rapids. All Catholic scouting programs in the archdiocese are organized by the Catholic Committee on Scouting. The connection between faith and scouting is a strong one.
“What I like about scouting is it teaches life skills,” said Tracy Schloss, Hawkeye Area Catholic Council Committee Chair, one of three regional bodies in the archdiocese that governs Catholic scouting programs.
“I think there’s a relationship between scouting and the kind of values they try to promote and the Catholic Church,” added Craig Pilcher, who serves on the archdiocesan committee on scouting.
The appreciation Mass is celebrated every year. Afterwards, a gathering was held in the parish hall, which gave scouts a chance to come together to socialize.
“I find a lot of our young scouts, (the scout appreciation Mass) is the first time they’ve ever been to the cathedral,” said Deacon Michael Klappholz, chaplain of the Catholic scouts in the Archdiocese of Dubuque.
“It gives them the opportunity to see that the church is bigger than just their home parish,” he said.
The second annual Catholic Camporee will be at Camp Wakonda near Central City April 29-May 1 for Catholic scouts. You can come as an individual or a unit. For information contact Schloss at Tracyschloss@mchsi.com or by calling 319-551-2505.
This story is provided courtesy of The Witness, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Dubuque.