Catholic Scouting Blogs

The conclusion of the 2013 St George Trek.

The Saint George Trek is The National Catholic Committee on Scouting’s® high adventure Catholic leadership program for older Catholic Boy Scouts and Venture Crew members at Philmont Scout Ranch. The program brings Catholic high school youth from around the country together with selected priests, religious and seminarians for eleven days of backpacking in the context of a vocation retreat. For more information on the St. George Trek

Please continue to pray for these young men and women!

About the Author

Here is a brief history of my personal life and Scouting career to preface how I got to my viewpoints as stated previously.  I am what society considers a “cradle Catholic,” meaning that I was born and raised Catholic in my family.  I was Baptized as a newborn, I partook in First Communion and First Reconciliation in second grade, and I was Confirmed in Christ in seventh grade.  I was a part of the private, Catholic education system for fifteen years of my education, from Pre-School at Seven Holy Founders, to Kindergarten through Eighth Grade at St. Dominic Savio, to all four years at St. Louis University High School, and even to a year and a half of college at Kenrick-Glennon Theological Seminary in St. Louis.  I was an altar server from third grade (at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, before I began serving at my home parish in fifth grade) through senior year of high school and was a member of my parish choirs during that same time period.  Along with my family, I was a volunteer at St. Cronan Food Pantry for a number of years.  During my final years in grade school, I was a helper for Sunday Children’s Liturgy of the Word as well as for Preschool of Religion.  In addition, my family and I have always been extremely involved within our parish, including being current volunteers for the St. Vincent de Paul Society.  Because of my involvement with the Church and with the people in my parish, I grew closer to God and eventually starting discerning the priesthood.  I attended two Kenrick-Glennon Days camps, which are grade school discernment retreats, and I often visited the Seminary to talk with seminarians.  In high school, I attended all six of the retreats that SLUH offered, four of which were optional, and led two other retreats my senior year.  I entered Cardinal Glennon College right out of high school, where I discerned for almost a year and a half before deciding to depart the Seminary and instead pursue a business degree at Truman State University, where I am now involved with the Catholic Newman Center.  I am also a member of the Knights of Columbus, a national Catholic men’s fraternal organization committed to community service.  So, as you can see, I have been a devout Catholic my entire life, not because I have to but rather because I want to.

As you already know, I have earned all four Catholic religious awards as well as the International Awareness Emblem.  I have been a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America for almost fifteen years, since I joined Cub Scouts as a Tiger Cub.  In Cub Scouts, I advanced through all the ranks—Wolf, Bear, and Webelos—and earned my Arrow of Light award, the highest award in Cub Scouting.  From there, I crossed over to Boy Scouts and quickly ascended the seven ranks, reaching Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouting, before the conclusion of my eighth grade year.  I have always been and still am extremely involved in Scouting: I have held multiple positions at the troop and district levels; I have staffed numerous campouts and have served on Summer Camp Staff for six years; and I have earned several awards and recognitions, including Vigil Honor in the Order of the Arrow and the Venturing Leadership Award.  That being said, I have also been very involved with the Venturing program, holding crew, district, and council positions and having earned the Silver Award, the highest award in Venturing.  I was also awarded the Bronze Pelican adult religious award by the Archdiocese of St. Louis in 2014.

Reflections by Joe on Faith

What has Scouting done for my Catholic faith?

By Joe Shaver

Throughout my fifteen years in Scouting, I have earned the Light of Christ, Parvuli Dei, Ad Altare Dei, and Pope Pius XII Catholic religious awards as well as the International Catholic Awareness Emblem.  I have staffed multiple Catholic Encounter Weekend retreat camps and am a member of the local Catholic Committee on Scouting.  I am also currently a summer intern for the Office of Catholic Scouting in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.  The faith aspect of Scouting has always been of vital importance to me.  The Scout Oath and Law state that “I will do my best to do my duty to God” and that “a Scout is reverent.”  Everyone knows that your parents are your first teachers of faith.  However, once you step out into the world and into a secular organization such as Boy Scouts, you begin to form your faith on your own and from within your groups of friends, and you have more say about your faith life than you ever did before.

Belonging to a Catholic-sponsored troop, these points in the Oath and Law have always been a bit more relevant than normal.  Every year, our parish has its annual Scout Sunday service on the first Sunday in February.  And our parish community is extremely supportive of our troop all year long.  Even with the recent changes in the Boy Scout national policy regarding the allowing of homosexual youth into the Scouting program, the Catholic Church and the BSA have a great relationship just as they did beforehand.

You must also keep in mind that no one really knows how many boys ever had thoughts of sexual tendencies before this policy change.  How do you know that Scouting hasn’t helped an innumerable amount of boys with these hidden tendencies?  There is no way to know for certain.  Scouting could provide more benefits to youth than ever thought possible.  Catholic scouting groups all over the country are reiterating that all people need to be treated equally with love and respect and need to proclaim the Church’s teachings.  The National Catholic Committee on Scouting stated the following: “The Catholic Church teaches that people who experience a homosexual inclination or a same sex attraction are to be treated with respect recognizing the dignity of all persons.  The Church's teaching is clear that engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage is immoral.  Individuals who are open and avowed homosexuals promoting and engaging in homosexual conduct are not living lives consistent with Catholic teaching.”  The Boy Scouts of America also clarified their belief that “Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.”

The Archdiocese of St. Louis released a public statement that said they will continue to teach youth and have faith formation programs available to them: “As Catholics, we believe that a proper understanding of Theology of the Body, as taught by Pope John Paul II, offers truth about the beauty and sanctity of human sexuality.  We welcome opportunities to proclaim the Gospel call to conversion.  We agree with Pope Emeritus Benedict when he said, ‘Every human being is loved by God the Father.  No one need feel forgotten, for every name is written in the Lord’s loving heart.’”  As a Catholic Scout, I will continue to be as supportive of Scouting as I have always been, and everyone needs to realize that this policy change can be used as a way to greater evangelize the Gospel to the youth in our country.

Read About the Author

Get to know our new Holy Father: "El Papa" from Argentine: Pope Francis

Great story about Pope Francis-Shoe Leather Evangelization


Get to Know Our New Holy Father: Pope Francis

Posted on 2013/03/13 by Gretchen

We have a new pope! Habemus Papem!

Habemus Papam! (“We Have a Pope!”) is the announcement given in Latin by the senior Cardinal Deacon upon the election of a new pope. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, today elected Supreme Pontiff by his brother Cardinals, has taken the name Pope Francis.  It has been confirmed by a Vatican spokesman that this name is chosen for  St. Francis of Assisi (and not St. Francis Xavier, the amazing Jesuit evangelist to Asia; although Xavier also was named after Assisi).  Cardinal Bergoglio has consistently kept a strong commitment to the poor and marginalized,  forgoing the pomp and luxury associated with his office for austere living . . . just like St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Francis of Assisi was commissioned by Christ to “Repair My Church” while he was praying in front of the San Damiano Crucifix.  St. Francis (1182-1226) went on to found the Order of Friars Minor (the Franciscans), the great mendicant friars and evangelists who shunned the world for Christ and took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. It is fitting that our new Holy Father has chosen this saint for himself, considering the tough task ahead of repairing the bruised Church and leading her into the frontiers of the New Evangelization initiated by his predecessors.

A Pope of Firsts

Pope Francis is already making waves on his first day in office as a novel Holy Father. He is the:

  • First Pope of from the Americas
  • First Latin American Pope
  • First Pope from the Southern Hemisphere
  • First non-European leader in more than a millennium
  • First Jesuit Pope
  • First Pope named Francis

Quick Facts

  • He’s 76 years old & of Italian descent
  • He was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 17, 1936
  • He’s one of the five children of an Italian railway worker and his wife
  • He’s the former archbishop of Buenos Aires appointed in 1997
  • Latin America is home to nearly half of the world’s Catholics
  • He taught literature and psychology in Buenos Aires
  • He was ordained a priest on December 13, 1969, at the age of 33
  • Pope John Paul II made him a cardinal in 2001
  • He studied theology in Germany
  • He has experience at the Vatican, but is not an “insider”
  • He was the runner up in 2005 conclave, after Cardinal Ratzinger
  • He was elected Pope in the fifth round of voting at the conclave
  • He secured a two-thirds majority 24 hours after the conclave began
  • He is unwaveringly orthodox with traditional Ignatian spirituality

History & Accomplishments

  • He studied for a master’s in chemical engineering at the University of Buenos Aires, then went to seminary in Santiago, Chile.
  • He has served on the following committees: Congregation of Clergy, Congregation of Divine Worship and Sacraments, Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life, the Congregation of Societies of Apostolic Life, the Pontifical Council for the Family, and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
  • After John Paul II made Bergoglio a cardinal in 2001, he assigned him the Roman church named after the Jesuit Saint Robert Bellarmino: Doctor of the Church, top Council of Trent theologian, and Counter-Reformation scholar.
  • He served as the ordinary for Eastern Catholics in Argentina and is familiar with the mass of St. Chrysostom. Because of this his relations with Eastern Orthodox Christians is anticipated to be strong.


What We Saw Today

According to one Catholic blogger,  Cardinal Bergoglio is “known for his humility, doctrinal conservatism, defender of the Church’s moral theology, and a commitment to social justice.”  Humility was the first mark of his pontificate; after Pope Francis was led out on the balcony and presented to the world, he first led everyone in prayer for Pope Benedict XVI, then asked for their prayers while bowing to receive them (shown above). And, of course, he chose the name St. Francis, a saint so humble that he did not see himself worthy enough to be a priest; St. Francis of Assisi chose to remain a simple friar as he served the poor and preached the Gospel.  Shortly after he was elected,  Pope Francis placed a phone call to his predecessor, Benedict XVI, an act of giving honor to whom honor is due.

Read Pope Francis’ first words to the world here.

 Here’s a great post from earlier today found on The Gregorian Institute Blog. According to Dr. Edward Mulholland, the three keys to Pope Francis’ pontificate will be humility, reform and evangelization:


“Humility: You saw it. His first act as pope, before blessing his people, was to pray for his predecessor and then to bow down before his flock and ask for their prayers. Even as Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Juan Mario Bergoglio lived in a small dwelling, not a palace, cooked for himself, and often took public transportation. He is a Latin American Jesuit with a huge heart for Social Justice, and yet distanced himself early on from currents of “Liberation Theology,” which would have us practice the Gospel seen through a Marxist prism. Such a stance may have made him unpopular in his seminary days. It takes humility to buck trends and stick to the truth. It takes humility to recognize your own weakness and ask for prayers. It takes humility to live humbly as a prince of the Church

“Reform: Pope Francis has worked with the Curia, but he is an outsider, not an insider. He said the cardinals went to the “end of the earth” to find him. And he picks a name not ever used before. This marks something new. Francis of Assisi was asked by God to rebuild his Church. He at first thought it was the run-down church of San Damiano. He soon learned it was the whole Church, through a humble living of the Gospel.  Pope Francis I will be a man of reform. He has an Italian last name but a new fresh perspective. It will not be business as usual in Rome for long.

“Evangelization: For a Jesuit, the first Francis that comes to mind would not be the Poverello of Assisi, but St. Francis Xavier, one of St. Ignatius’ first “Company of Jesus,” whose native language, Spanish, Jorge Bergoglio shares. Converted as a young man in college, St. Francis Xavier went to the ends of the earth to preach the Gospel, including Japan, before dying on the island of Goa. At the upcoming World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, you will hear the new Pope tell the youth of the world that story and challenge them to be like Francis Xavier. Bet on it. This will be a pontificate that is marked by a reinvigorated New Evangelization.”

 We are very excited about our new Holy Father.  Join with us in prayer for him!

BY Emily Stimpson

Blog By Lizzie

Encounter Weekend – What It Means To ME

             As a Catholic Venturer, I have had many opportunities to be involved with the Office of Catholic Scouting and the Catholic Youth Apostolate through the Archdiocese of St. Louis. This will be my fourth year staffing the annual Catholic Encounter Weekend for Boy Scouts and Venturers, and I am excited beyond belief! The Encounter Weekend has been a building block for not only my scouting career, but also my faith life. I can vividly remember my first year as a high school youth staffer at this retreat.

As soon as I was old enough to be registered for the Venturing program, I was; I immediately started to help plan things for that year’s Encounter Weekend retreat. My dad was almost as excited as I was to get started. He, along with my brothers, had been involved with the retreat for a while, and they were glad that I could finally share this with them. I was, too! They took me to the planning meetings with them, and once I started to get the hang of being a member of the Boy Scouts of America, I started to really enjoy what I could do with it. I stopped going to the meetings because my dad and brothers were going, and started to go because I knew I had friends there and I liked being a part of the planning process of such an awesome thing.

The weekend finally came, and all of our hard work and dedication paid off. I could tell that the participants enjoyed it. I know they really did learn from it, but I believe I may have gotten more out of it than they did. It was rewarding to me to see the faith of the participants grow through the planning and teaching of myself and my fellow staffers. It was interesting to me to see the impact of the staff on each other and on the participants. It was satisfying to me to grow closer to God through my family, friends, and the youth that make up the future. Throughout the years, I continued to plan and staff the next retreat, and now I am seen as a leader and role model for the other youth staff and participants alike.

I believe that God put these people (the people who participate and/or help put together the Encounter Weekend) in my life for a reason. Through growing closer to Him, I can help others do the same. That is why I continue to come back and staff every year. I take time out of my busy schedule, overwhelmed with my senior year of high school, sports during every season of the year, more clubs than I can name, countless service and leadership activities, and many other things, to participate in something that is very important to me – scouting. Catholic scouting, that is! I hope to continue to be involved with the Office of Catholic Scouting and the Encounter Weekend for years to come. No matter how busy I am or how busy I will be, there will always be room for my faith, and staffing the Encounter Weekend is an essential part of that!


Lizzie Schneider

Senior at Hazelwood West High School

St. Ferdinand Parish

Venturing Crew 2829

Encounter Weekend Staff 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Spiritual strength part of Boy Scouts' highest rank, says Eagle Scout

Great story about spiritual strength and Boy Scouting from the Catholic News Service!

Exploring Our Faith Volume II: Mary The First Disciple Part IV

As we conclude our crash course in Mariology, I want to focus on two Marian dogmas that for some reason seem to give all Catholics trouble despite the fact that we celebrate them as Holy Days of Obligation.

The first one is the Marian dogma of the Immaculate Conception.  If you would ask 100 Catholics what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was, I would bet that 90% or higher would say that it was the moment that Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus in her womb and they would be wrong.  The Immaculate Conception states that Mary herself was conceived without original sin. 

First and foremost, let me state that Mary, was human like all of us, and was in need of redemption just like you and me.  The dogma of the Immaculate Conception in no way declares that Mary was in no need of a redeemer.  What the doctrine teaches us was that Jesus took the grace of redemption – the grace of the paschal mystery, and applied it to Mary at the moment of her conception and not at the moment of Jesus’ resurrection.  I hope this image helps.  A few years ago my brothers and sisters wanted to get my mom an oven for Christmas but we did not know how to gift wrap it.  Honestly, we wanted her to pick it out so instead we bought my mom gift cards.  My mom therefore received the gift of the oven before it was paid for.  Mary received the gift of salvation before Christ paid the price for it on the cross.  How could He do it?  He could because He is God and time has no value or constraint on Him.  We believe that Mary was kept clean of original sin so that she could be the proper home for the Lord.  This should inspire us to keep our souls clean as we receive the Lord each week in the Eucharist. 

The second teaching is that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven.  I want to make it clear that the Church does not say one way or the other as to whether this happened before or after a physical death.  One theologian said in a pod cast that the early Church referred to Mary as simply falling asleep and awakening to new life.  Since there was no sin in her, there was no separation for her from God and so she simple moved past this world into the next.  Physical proof for this early doctrine of the Church is that no one ever claimed to have a relic of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  We can’t go to Rome and see her finger; we can’t go to the holy land and see her body.  For a culture that was as excited over relics as people are over artifacts from celebrities it is amazing that if Mary had not been assumed into heaven body and soul that not one church claimed to have Mary’s body. Mary’s assumption reminds each of us that we believe in the resurrection of the body and so we have an obligation to take care of our body just as much as our soul. The Assumption also reminds us that we are all called to something higher.


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