By Mr. Barry Ekle, Host Committee
The Archdiocese of Miami’s Catholic Committee on Scouting recently sponsored a Scouting recruitment dinner at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens. The dinner was hosted by the South Florida Council of the Boy Scouts in conjunction with the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida and Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida. Speaking at the dinner was Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, Committee Chaplain Deacon Emilio Blanco, Committee Chair AJ Naranjo, South Florida Council President Robert Morrison, Girl Scout Gold & Venturing Silver Scout Rebecca Schultz, and Eagle Scout Marcos Mirabent.
The attendees of the dinner where specifically chosen from the 25 parishes in the Archdiocese that have or are affiliated with schools and do not have any Scouting presence. The goal for the dinner was to raise awareness among these schools and parishes of the value that Scouting can provide for them and for their youth. In addition to the pastors and principals, representatives of several local Knights of Columbus Councils and Assemblies were also present at the dinner.
A group of Scouts from all 3 Scout councils opened the dinner with the presentation of the Colors, Pledge of Allegiance, Girl Scout, and Boy Scout Oaths. They concluded their opening by leading those assembled in a round of God Bless America.
His Excellency, Archbishop Wenski, spoke of his ties to South Florida. Although recently installed this past year as the Archbishop of Miami, he was born and raised in Southern Florida and had been ordained in Miami.
The Archbishop spoke about the need of providing today’s youth a safe environment where they have the opportunity to interact with their peers. As our society has become more and more technologically advanced, our youth are driven to physical isolation from others as they retreat into a world becoming more virtual by the day. By having our youth involved in the Scouting program, they are given the opportunity not to just end the physical isolation, but also to give of themselves through projects and taking on leadership roles. Once they begin giving of themselves, they in turn grow and learn how to become productive members of society. He went on to explain that by having Scouting active in their parish or school, they bring the youth closer to the Church and vice versa. He concluded by reminding all of the synergies of the values of the Church and those of Scouting.
Committee Chaplain Blanco spoke of the added value that the Catholic Committee on Scouting brings to units sponsored by Catholic organizations. Specifically, how the religious emblems programs offer Scouts the opportunity to grow in their faith through Scouting’s emphasis on meeting our Duty to God. He also addressed the tremendous opportunity that parishes and schools have by engaging in a partnership with Scouting. He has seen firsthand the fruition of the partnership by the immigrant parents of Scouts becoming members of and active in the Church as a direct result of their Scouts participation in parish sponsored Troops. He stressed the importance of not just having a Scout unit, but that the key to long term success was to be actively involved with the unit – mainly so that the Scouts do projects to benefit their sponsor, thereby getting more active.
The two young adults who spoke were shining examples of the value that Catholic Scouting adds to their Scouting experiences.
Girl Scout & Sea Scout Rebecca Schultz spoke of the leadership opportunities that Scouting provided her, and that how by doing her progressively involved service projects, she became better suited to meet life’s challenges. Adding the Catholic Scouting religious emblems to the Scouting program gave her the chance to do projects that caused her to focus her faith in a Scouting context. Eagle Scout Marcos Mirabent spoke of his Scouting experience that began as a Tiger at St. Patrick’s parish in Miami Beach, where he later served for many years as an alter server, and earning Catholic Scouting Emblems. He also had the opportunity to give back by helping the Catholic Committee staff Days of Recollection, Retreats, and Awards Masses. Marcos planned and executed his Eagle Scout service project for his school, Monsignor Edward Pace High School.
The evening was concluded by Council President Robert Morrison presenting his Excellency with an Eagle bust inscribed with the Scout Oath, followed by Committee Chairman AJ Naranjo encouraging the formation of Scouting units and to reach out to the members of the Archdiocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting for any further assistance.