Bishop celebrates Scouting Mass at cathedral

Boys in every color kerchief, girls in vests covered with badges, fathers in cargo pants and mothers in navy blue polos filled the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington at the annual Scout Mass celebrated by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde Feb. 6.

Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Trail Life members and American Heritage Girls served as readers and gift bearers. Bishop Loverde encouraged them in his homily to cultivate interior strength, create a plan for the future and listen to the advice of others. "Scouting will form you into Christian leaders," he said.

The bishop also awarded top Catholic Scouting medals. American Heritage Patriot Alexis Mancini earned the Spirit Alive emblem in part by hosting a wheelchair fashion show for women in a nursing home.

"We decorated their wheelchairs with some balloons, ribbons and flowers, and two girls announced as they came out," said Mancini. "They really enjoyed it and it was a lot of fun."

Mancini is one of around 100 American Heritage Girls at Holy Trinity Church in Gainesville who got involved with the group just as it was forming. "I enjoy being with the other girls, the activities and camping. It's faith strengthening and a good way to get good friends," she said.

The Bishop Loverde Award for volunteer service at diocesan youth events was presented to Patrick Berney, chairman of the diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting and Camp Fire. Usually the award is bestowed during the youth ministry Mass and dinner held every December, but the bishop said he didn't want to wait until then.

Seven Boy Scouts at the Mass received the St. Pius XII Award, which focuses on cultivating the Scout's relationship with God and their individual vocation. Max Gelbach, a senior at Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries, earned the Pius XII Award. He earned Eagle Scout by organizing a donation drive for a pregnancy center in Manassas.

Gelbach, who has been involved with Scouting since first grade, said, "The skills that we learn in Boy Scouts are so applicable to everyday life. This religious emblem program goes well (with Scouting) because your faith should be part of everything in your life."

Di Mauro can be reached at zdimauro@catholicherald.com or on Twitter @zoeydimauro.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016