Catholic Scouting: St. Mary Pack 53 & Troop 53

“Be doers of the word and not hearers only.”

James 1:22a

While knowledge is essential to the practice of the faith, classroom knowledge is by itself insufficient to provide a wholistic training in the Faith: right action and the cultivation of virtue in response to grace are essential. To provide an opportunity to assist the children of our parish to grow in virtue, St. Mary has become the chartering organization for Cub Scout Pack 53 and Scouts BSA Troop 53. This means we can now offer Scouting, with its long record of youth character development, as a tool to help with the development of Christian virtue in our children. They will do this through learning to live by the scout oath: “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight” and Scout law: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”

Pack 53 is our Cub Scout unit, open to boys and girls ages 5-11.  The cub scout program is arranged around a series of “adventures” which each scout completes to earn a grade specific rank. These include both concrete skills as well as learning about the Scout oath and law. The meetings will be held on Wendesday evenings at 6:00pm, with other events such as campouts at various times throughout the year. A finalized schedule for the upcoming year is forthcoming.

Troop 53 is our Scouts BSA unit, open to boys and girls ages 11-18. The scouting program is a method for youth development which revolves around youth researching, planning for, and completing various requirements to earn merit badges and rank advancements. With over 130 merit badges available there is something to interest every child, and every badge is an opportunity to grow in virtue. In addition to personal advancement, outdoor experiences and community service play a central role in Scouts BSA. Troop meetings are Sundays at 4:00pm, along with a variable monthly campout and other activities throughout the year. A finalized schedule for the upcoming year is forthcoming. Please also note that while the troop does include both boys and girls, it is separated into single-sex sub units, currently one each for boys and girls.

Effective August 1, the cost for scouting will be $66 annually, with a one time new member fee of $25/child.  Prior to that date the fee is $60/year.  There are some other costs associated with Scouting such as camp fees and uniforms. All scouting expenses, including registration, can be offset by success in the fundraising activities which are a part of the program. If needed, scholarships may also be available on an individual basis: don’t let money be the reason your child doesn’t participate! Also please note that while scouting is being offered through St. Mary, it is primarily an activity aimed at cultivating natural virtue, and can never replace regular sacramental practice, prayer, and study in the home. Further, while it is being run in a Catholic context with a Catholic flavor, scouting at St. Mary remains open to members of any faith.

Scouting has registration in addition to R.E. registration.  Katherine Wisely is the Scouts officer in charge of new recruits.

What does “Catholic Scouting” mean?

“Test everything; retain what is good.  Refrain from every kind of evil.”

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

With the re-chartering of Pack 53 and Troop 53 to St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, the question may arise: “What does scouting look like in a Catholic context?” BSA clearly expects chartering organizations to use scouting as designed in the service of each chartering organization’s goals for youth.

The goal of all youth programs at St. Mary’s is to draw children into relationship with God, and to assist and inspire them to live a life of Charity, namely loving God for his own sake and loving neighbor for the sake of God. The chief ways that we accomplish this are through sacramental practice, education in faith, and training in virtue, and it is in pursuit of this last goal that Scouting fits into our program for youth.

In the Western Catholic Tradition a virtue is a habit, or well-established characteristic, of the soul, which makes good action easy.  There are seven Cardinal Virtues from which all others spring: Faith, Hope, Charity, Justice, Prudence, Fortitude, and Temperance.  The first three are the Theological virtues and only come from God. The last four are the natural virtues and are usually acquired by human effort, though God can increase them in a person if He so chooses.  As such, the chief aim of scouting at Saint Mary’s is to help all participating children to grow in virtue through the consistent practice of the Scout Law, which reads: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” (For more on Christian Virtue see

Further, in the Scout Oath a scout pledges to do his or her duty both to God and country.  In the Catholic context duty to God consists in following His commandments in both letter (see Exodus 20) and spirit (see Matthew 5), and in adhering to the precepts of the Church (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2041-2043).  While there are many traditions and devotions in Catholicism, these will only appear in our scouting program occasionally and incidentally, and primary focus will be given to the chief area of overlap between Scouting and Catholicism, namely the basic duty to God as it applies to everyday living and right action.

Consistent with Scouting’s principle of respecting the beliefs of others, we invite any person of good will, regardless of their own religious beliefs, to participate in Scouting at Saint Mary’s.  Further, consistent with Scouting’s principle of non-discrimination, we will not compromise our Catholic identity or beliefs or alter the nature and vision of the program we offer due to different beliefs which may be held by participants.  We expect all our leaders, whether Catholic or Non-Catholic, to share our vision for virtue development in youth and to respect the teachings of the Catholic Church, both in word and deed, when acting in their official capacity.  Further, we invite all participants and their families to learn more about the Catholic Faith through participation in other activities at St. Mary’s.