Scouting for Catholic Youth
The Roman Catholic Church has used the Scouting program since the early
days of the Boy Scouts of America. It is one of the most extensive users of
the BSA program. There are more than 351,000 Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and
Venturers in more than 9,600 packs, troops, and crews under Catholic
auspices, and an equal number of youth members in other Scouting units.
Scouting is used in about one-third of the parishes in the United States.
The National Catholic Committee on Scouting has had the responsibility
for more than 57 years to promote and guide cooperative contacts between
the authorities of the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America in
the United States. The Scouting program is recognized as an integral part
of the total youth ministry at the diocesan level. As such, Scouting becomes
part of the parish youth ministry as units are operated by the parishes,
parent-teacher organizations, Holy Name Societies, and schools. The Knights
of Columbus and other Church-related organizations also operate units.
The national committee carries out the official Plan of Organization,
which was first approved in 1934 and was revised in 1989.
Each archdiocese and diocese has a Catholic committee on Scouting, and
more than 300 BSA local councils have their own committees.
Every two years, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting holds a
national conference for all members of the diocesan and local Catholic
committees. At this conference, new programs are introduced, planned, and
developed. Ultimate approval for the new programs comes from the vote of
the membership. Thus, ideas, comments, and experience from every part of
the country can be heard and shared.
In addition, the national committee sponsors a weeklong training course
at the Philmont Training Center each year for those diocesan personnel
entrusted with the responsibilities of operating the committee.
The National Catholic Committee on Scouting also promotes and coordinates
Scouting in the Eastern Catholic Church, creating new programs or modifying
current ones as needed.
National Membership Initiative
The National Catholic Committee on Scouting and the BSA launched a membership
initiative in April 1995. The goal of the initiative is to bring a quality Scouting
program to more Catholic youth than ever before. Emphasis is being placed on
organizing more units, holding membership roundups, ensuring quality training for
existing units, and securing more volunteer leaders. Dioceses are encouraged to
conduct a bishop's luncheon or dinner to promote Scouting. Promotional
materialsincluding a brochure that features endorsements from the Pope
and nine United States cardinalsare available to support the initiative.
Through each level of organization, subcommittees carry out the responsibilities
established in the Plan of Organization, No. 16-151. These include:
Create and promote national programs that diocesan Scouting committees can use
to further membership and the relationship between the Catholic Church and the
Provide training for laypeople of the Catholic faith, training for people who
serve as religious emblems counselors, and assistance in recruiting for parishes.
Promote the spiritual phase of Scouting, provide for a religious emblems program,
provide a board of review to examine all candidates for religious emblems, and develop
ways and means to communicate with Scouts of the Catholic faith in units of other
chartered organizations in order to help them qualify for Catholic religious emblems.
These religious emblems are:
- Light of Christ. This emblem is given to Tiger Cub and
Cub Scouts (through Wolf rank) for advancement in spiritual
growth and religious knowledge. It is the first of five religious
emblems available to Catholic youth involved with Scouting.
- Parvuli Dei. This is a Christian family emblem to recognize
Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts for advancement in religious knowledge
and spiritual formation. With the help of parents or guardians, the
boy becomes more aware of God's presence in his daily life, especially
within his home and community.
- Ad Altare Dei. The purpose of earning the Ad Altare Dei emblem
is to equip the Scout to take his place in the world as a maturing
Catholic and a maturing American. With a religious emblems counselor,
the boy meets requirements in eight steps covering the sacraments of
initiation and the sacraments of maturity.
- Light Is Life. This recognition is designed for Boy Scouts of
the Eastern-Rite Catholic Churches. The content is based on the "God
With Us" series of the Eastern Christian Formation Program to prepare
the Scout to be an active member of his faith community, as well as
his civic community. With the help of an emblems counselor, catechist,
or priest, the Scout meets requirements in five steps covering the
Holy Mysteries and Eastern Christian spirituality. The Light Is Life
respects the cultural and ritual differences among the various rites.
- Pope Pius XII. Scouts of high-school age and young men and women
who are Venturers are eligible for this award. The requirements cover
five units: We As Christians, Today's Vocation, Awareness of
Responsibility to Self and Society, CitizenshipHome and Community,
and Our Response to Faith.
- Saint George. This national recognition is presented to any adult
who is working with the Scouting program under Catholic auspices, to
Catholics in Scouting units not operated by the church, and to those
who have made a significant contribution to Scouting in the field of
Catholic relationships. It may be given to men, women, priests,
religious, and non-Catholics.
Promote regular and meaningful Catholic religious activities and programs
for youth at the unit and diocesan levels throughout the country.
Keep Scouters informed on Scouting activities, promote the program and
activities of the Catholic committee, create a better understanding of the
aims and ideals of Scouting by both clergy and laity, and make known the
many advantages of Scouting under Catholic auspices to the parish as part
of its Catholic youth program.