One belief of the major youth-serving agencies of the United States (Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, and American Heritage Girls) is that spiritual growth is essential to a healthy personality. Scouting programs center on the belief that youth cannot develop to their fullest potential without a spiritual element in their lives. The early founders of scouting held this belief; programs today continue to be a means through which young people can explore their faith and grow deeper in their faith traditions.
The Catholic Church recognizes that scouting programs are an ideal method of supporting and encouraging the spiritual growth of its youth as well as a way of engaging youth and young adults in the life of the Church. It is one of many ways to evangelize youth and their families. Scouting is comprehensive youth ministry: it is ministry with, to, by and for youth. In a unique way Scouting meets the three goals of youth ministry as set forth in “Renewing the Vision” by: empowering young people to live as disciples of Jesus Christ; working to draw young people to responsible participation in the life, mission, and work of the faith community; and working to foster the total personal and spiritual growth of each young person.
Scouting also encompasses all three of the critical issues of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan. Youth and young adults are attracted and engaged in the life and leadership of the church through Scouting. Scouting develops adults as leaders and prepares youth for future adult leadership positions. The Scout slogan, “Do a good turn daily,” speaks to living out Catholic Social Justice Teaching.
One particular way in which the Church strives to evangelize as well as catechize youth who are scouts, is through specific religious programs designed by the Church for use by Catholic Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and American Heritage Girls youth. These programs are designed for the advancement of youth in religious and spiritual formation by combining the dimensions of discovery, prayer and service into specific program requirements.
The Catholic committee on Scouting, under the direction of the Office of Youth and Young Adults of the Diocese, strives to promote the religious programs throughout the Diocese of San José. The following programs are available to Catholic youth registered in Girl Scouts and American Heritage Girls or can be used on a parish level: “God Is Love” for Kindergarten and first graders; “Family Of God” for second and third graders; “I Live My Faith” for youth in fourth through fifth grade; “Marian Medal” for sixth through eighth graders; “Spirit Alive” for high school young adults; and “Missio” for young adults in eleventh and twelfth grades. For more information on these programs, please contact Moira Delumpa at (408) 439-4315.
The following programs are available to registered members of the Scouts of America who are Catholic: “God Is Love” for Lion Cubs; “Light Of Christ” for Tiger Cubs and Wolf Cub Scouts; “Parvuli Dei” for Bear Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts; “Ad Altare Dei” for middle school-aged Scouts and; “Pope Pius XII” for Scouts in high school or in the Venturing program. For more information on these programs, please contact Ann Resch at (408) 227-8587.
Participants who successfully complete the Catholic religious programs are recognized annually at a diocesan prayer service and award ceremony. The next recognition ceremony will be held March 22, 2020, at 3 p.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph. All young people participating in any of the above programs and wishing to be recognized at this ceremony must complete the programs by February 1, 2020 and be in contact with Ms. Delumpa or Ms. Resch.
For information on other activities sponsored by the Catholic Committee on Scouting, please visit their webpage: www.dsj.org/evangelization/youth/catholic-scouting.