SALT LAKE CITY — Part of the mission of Cub Scouts, Brownies, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts is to care for others and work to make their lives easier, qualities that also reflect Catholic values. They can earn formal recognition for learning more about their faith, and on Feb. 9, the Most Rev. John C. Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City, honored Scouts who had earned religious emblems this year.
"These awards that you receive today are symbols or signs of your care for others; that you don’t put yourselves first, but that you think of others and you wish to do for them, and to help them," Bishop Wester said during the annual Religious Emblems Award Ceremony, held at the Cathedral of the Madeleine. "Our diocese and our Catholic Church honor you today for your accomplishments because they’re a symbol of your care for others.... I want to be one of the first to congratulate you and tell you that we’re very proud of you and that we pray that you continue to do well."
Among those who received awards were Girl Scout Sierra Bieling and Brownies Madison Burnham, Alexis Bean and Brook Milan Hartman from Saint John the Baptist Parish in Draper, who all received the Family of God award. The purpose of this award is for a scout to "discover the presence of God in her daily life," according to the manual for the award.
"They’re the first to pioneer this [Family of God award] with Saint John the Baptist," said Christine Burnham, whose daughter is in the Brownie troop.
For Sierra Bieling, who has been in scouting for three years, earning badges doesn’t top the list of why she continues to participate. Rather, "there are fun camps, and we help the community, and it’s really fun and you meet new friends," she said.
Scout troops are an integral part of the youth activities at many parishes, including Blessed Sacrament in Sandy. "It’s an opportunity for them to relate to kids their own age and learn how to be part of a community," said Monsignor Robert Servatius, Blessed Sacrament pastor, adding that one of his priorities is to provide opportunities for youth of all ages so they can be involved in the parish.
Parishioners respond well to the scouting programs, and "the kids seem to have a good time," Msgr. Servatius added. "A strong part of their scout experience is that they are, through whatever faith they belong to, to give some kind of service, and learn how important it is in their lives."
Leadership skills also are stressed by the organization, said Cathleen Sparrow, CEO of Girl Scouts of Utah and a Saint Thomas More parishioner. "We firmly believe that if girls have good leadership skills starting at a very early age, as they grow up and face challenges and face difficulties, they will have confidence and courage within themselves and character; they’ll make better choices, they’ll make better decisions, they’ll think things through more effectively. They’ll also learn to stand up for themselves."
At the ceremony, 26 Cub and Boy scouts from troops from Saint John the Baptist, Saint James the Just, and Saint Olaf parishes received the Parvouli Dei, Light of Christ or Ad Altare Dei awards.
Also, three adult leaders were presented with the Bronze Pelican, a diocesan recognition given to scouts who have made a significant contribution to the Church and development of Catholic youth. The three were Sean Barbera, Megg Morin and Sparrow.
Barbera "took over Troop 1966 at Blessed Sacrament two years ago and brought it back from the brink of extinction to one of the largest well organized Catholic Boy Scout troops in the GSLC (Greater Salt Lake Council)," according to the recognition. "His troop is the only one in the GSLC to offer the Ad Alteri Dei with any regularity. He truly lives the spirit of Catholic Boy Scouting and is one of those people you know you can just count on to be there when he is needed."
Morin, who is Cub Master at St. Olaf Parish in Bountiful, "brings a very spiritual presence to Cub scouting, combined with humor and the ability to make difficult tasks fun," according to the nomination. "Her own den leaders could not say enough wonderful things about her and what she has brought to the Cub pack at St. Olaf’s."
Sparrow "makes time for Catholic scouting and has been an active and avid supporter of Catholic Girl Scouting in Utah," according to the recognition. "She has been our keynote speaker at the Bishop’s Dinner on scouting and is an inspiration to all leaders in her message of building leaders in young women."