By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — More than 180 scouts and their family members participated in the inaugural Bishop’s Mass for Scouting on Feb. 28 at Sacred Heart Cathedral. A religious emblems ceremony and reception followed the Mass.
The Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting (DCCS) sponsored the Mass, which is the first diocesan-wide scouting Mass as far as people can remember. Bishop Martin Amos presided. Concelebrants were Father Rich Adam, the cathedral’s pastor, and Father Ron Hodges of the scouting committee. Denise McMonagle, DCCS chairperson, hopes this will become an annual event.
The Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting is a group of concerned lay persons and clergy who share the mission of creating viable youth ministry through scouting programs to enhance faith.
“All scouts are called to grow as individuals physically, mentally and spiritually. Our scouting programs are well designed to help with this growth and provide great opportunity to minister to youth. Yes, scouting is youth ministry,” McMonagle said. She noted that all scouts are “encouraged to pray, to serve others and to grow in faith.”
The scouts’ important but little-known religious emblem program is conducted by individual parishes with each offering a series of programs for scouts at many levels, she continued.
The religious emblems programs, through the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, provide an excellent way for Catholic Boy Scouts to grow more deeply in their faith. The National Catholic Committee for Girl Scouts and Camp Fire also provide outstanding religious emblem programs, McMonagle added.
This past year, she facilitated a group of six Boy Scouts who completed months of study to earn the Pope Pius XII religious emblem. “This is the highest award for the Catholic Boy Scout. It’s more rarely earned than the Eagle Scout award.”
These older scouts led discussions about their current and future choices regarding life states, occupations and ministries in the church. Other discussions focused on issues facing society and the church and, specifically, how personal choices might impact and be affected by these issues. “These scouts are a terrific group of young men, whom I trust will continue to grow in faith.”
Another group of at least 11 young men completed the Ad Altare Dei or “to the altar of God” religious emblem.
Also this past year, Jim Pitcher of the DCCS guided four older Girl Scouts from the diocese through their efforts to earn the Mary, the First Disciple religious emblem — another rarely achieved emblem.
Younger Girl Scouts can complete the Family of God and the I Live My Faith religious emblems. The oldest Girl Scouts are welcome to participate in the Spirit Alive religious emblem program.
Among Cub Scouts, 25 earned the Light of Christ and 17 earned the Parvuli Dei or the “Children of God” religious emblems.
“Our DCCS has a goal of helping more scouts every year to participate in these programs and to earn these important religious emblems while continuing on their faith journey.”
“We commend the Scouts, parents and facilitators who have helped to make this happen,” McMonagle said.
After Mass, Bishop Amos blessed the medals and presented the Light of Christ, Parvuli Dei, Ad Altare Dei and Pope Pius XII emblems to the Boy Scouts. All boys and girls in scouting who attended the Mass also received a patch from the bishop.
Two adults received the St. George emblem for their contributions and support of scouting within the diocese: Steve Zirtsman of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City and Father Mark Spring, parochial vicar at Holy Family Parish in Fort Madison and St. Joseph Parish in Montrose. Fr. Spring was unable to attend.
Zirtsman said he was honored to receive the award. He was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout and has been involved in scouting for about 10 years as an adult in the Iowa City area.
The West family of St. Mary Parish in Williamsburg attended the scouting Mass. Marcus, a Cub Scout Bear, received his Parvuli Dei religious emblem. Mom Julie said, “This is a great experience to be here for this ceremony and be with other scouts and the bishop.”
Alec Schauer of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport, who received the Pope Pius XII medal, said: “This Mass brings awareness to scouting.” A Life Scout, Schauer said this is one of four medals that boys can earn that relates to their faith. He encourages young scouts to earn these medals.
Recipients of Pope Pius XII scouting religious emblems
The six boys to earn the Pope Pius XII emblem in the past year are: Landry Blunk, Our Lady of the River Parish, LeClaire, Troop 24; Patrick McMonagle, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Davenport, Troop 24; Alec Schauer, St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Davenport, Troop 20; Jonathan Shaw, St. Andrew Parish, Blue Grass, Troop 26; Logan Thomsen, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Bettendorf, Troop 89; and John VanderWal, St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Davenport, Troop 20.