By Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel
Special to The Texas Catholic
I like to write about good things. The Boy Scouts of America is one of the great treasures that is a part of many of our parishes in the Diocese of Dallas. This came to my mind as I reflected on the recent death of Lewis Duca, the father of Bishop Mike Duca who is Bishop of Shreveport and a priest of this diocese. Mr. Duca was “Mr. Boy Scout” of St. Thomas Aquinas and held many district and state leadership positions. He was a great proponent of Scouting ideals and helped many Scouts obtain their religious and Catholic merit badges.
Many of the parishes I have served in for the past 35 years chartered Scout Troops and I witnessed firsthand the tremendous benefits of Catholic Scouting. A parish Scout Troop is an expansion of the Youth Ministry program in our parishes. Scout Troops, with their ideals of duty to God, Country and fellow men and women, help to form the youth of our diocese to be good Catholics, future active citizens of our nation, and leaders in their communities.
Catholic Scouts are frequently called upon to be altar servers at Mass. They are reminded of the importance of personal prayer and the nourishment of their spiritual lives by frequent attendance at Mass. The pastor of a parish that charters a troop will call upon the Scouts to set up and clean up at parish functions. This gives them a sense of community and service to others. Scouts often help with traffic safety and patrol at parishes that have schools. This imbues them with a sense of responsibility.
Working with other members of the troop reminds individual Scouts that others rely upon them to carry out their assigned duties and show up on time for events. These are all invaluable life lessons and skills. Working with other Scouts from different cultures, races and even religions teaches them to get along with and accomplish tasks in a pluralistic environment. This gives them social skills they may never have learned elsewhere.
The National Council of Catholic Bishops values Catholic Scouting so much that it has established a separate Committee for Scouting as part of its structure. Scouts learn to be honest, tell the truth, respect others and live moral lives. These are all lessons straight from the Catholic Catechism.
Many have questioned whether our parishes should be associated with Scouting because of the recent ruling that allows those with a homosexual orientation to become a Boy Scout. As Catholics we believe that sexual activity is by God’s design an expression of a committed, lifelong love between husband and wife in marriage that is open to new life. As long as the current Scout guidelines forbid sexual activity at any Scouting event and pastors of parishes can approve the Scout leaders in their parishes, the Conference of Bishops will continue to support Catholic Scouting.
Next time you see a Boy Scout in uniform around your parish, give him a word of encouragement, thank him for serving at Mass and offer his troop whatever support you can give. They are a true treasure for our parishes.
The Most Rev. J. Douglas Deshotel is an auxiliary bishop, vicar general and Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Dallas.