Awards bestowed at Diocesan Scout Mass (with slideshow)

Photo Caption: Girl Scouts join in prayer at the Diocesan Scout Mass on Feb. 15.

By: By Jared Olar

The annual Diocesan Scout Mass is always a special time for the Scouts and Scout leaders who receive badges and medals, but two surprise awards made this year’s Mass even more memorable.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, and Father Stanley Deptula — who plans and oversees the Scout Mass each year — were granted the Bronze Pelican Award by the Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting, in appreciation for their steadfast support of Scouting.

The bishop and Father Deptula were among the 107 Scouts and 13 adult Scout leaders who received religious emblems, medals and badges in an award ceremony at the end of the Scout Mass, celebrated at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.

A slideshow of dozens of photos from the Mass appears above.

Bishop Jenky is “our champion, really vocal and supportive,” while Father Deptula is “as much a member of our committee as anyone else,” said Dr. Doug Loberg, chairman of the Scouting committee as he announced the awards.

A smile beaming on his face, the bishop flashed a thumbs-up as he and Father Deptula received their medals. Then he and Father Deptula turned and “high-fived” each other.

“Father Stan and I are also big enthusiasts of outdoor camping as well — as long as it’s in a Holiday Inn,” Bishop Jenky joked to the Scouts, their leaders, and families who filled the cathedral. Speaking seriously, he praised Scouting because it “does immense good for building up the church.”

“I’m not used to being surprised in the cathedral. It was a great joy,” Father Deptula told The Catholic Post. “I was a Boy Scout years ago, but never became an Eagle Scout. Now I know a little bit about what it feels like to be honored by the Boy Scouts.”

“Every year I look forward to this Mass,” Bishop Jenky said as he welcomed the Scouts and their parents and leaders to the Mass.

Acknowledging the months and even years of diligent work and study that Scouts put in to learn more about their faith, the bishop said, “Scouting is all about service, about giving all that we have for the good of our neighbors.”

The importance of service to anyone and everyone in need is underscored by the lessons of the day’s Gospel, in which Jesus miraculously healed a leper, the bishop said in his homily.

“Leprosy was scary and disgusting,” said Bishop Jenky, speaking to the young people from the foot of the sanctuary steps. The bishop described the disease that rendered those who suffered from it social outcasts.

But in the Gospel story, the bishop said, instead of keeping his distance, the leper boldly approached Jesus and professed his confidence that Jesus could heal him if he wanted to.

“That leper was filled with faith,” said Bishop Jenky. “But the New Testament scholars say that Jesus was even a little irritated, that the leper was wrong that he had even asked. ‘What do you mean, “If I want to?” Of course I want to heal you!'”

“Jesus gave every one of us an example for how to live our lives,” Bishop Jenky said, adding, “I think Scouting is filled with opportunities to say, ‘Of course I want to help you.'”

Concelebrating the Mass with the bishop were Father Glenn Harris, chaplain of the Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting; Father Dennis Spohrer, parochial vicar of Holy Cross Parish in Champaign and a member of the DCCS; and Father Tony Lee, pastor of St. Jude’s Parish, Peoria.

Father Spohrer and Father Lee later were among the adults receiving awards of recognition for their support of Scouting, Father Spohrer receiving the St. George Medal and Father Lee the Bronze Pelican.

At the commemoration of the saints during the Eucharistic Prayer, Father Spohrer invoked St. George, St. Anne and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, for whom three of the four adult Scouting honors are named.

It was the seventh straight year that the diocese has celebrated a Scout Mass at the cathedral. During the liturgy, uniformed Scouts performed the roles of altar server, lector or gift bearer. Four Scouts also presented flags in an opening ceremony as the assembly sang the National Anthem.

Boy Scout Troop 121 from St. Patrick’s Parish, Champaign, served as host council for the Scout Mass. Afterward, Troop 28 from St. Thomas Parish, Peoria Heights, hosted a reception at St. Joseph’s Parish Hall in Peoria.

The badges and medals that Bishop Jenky presented to the young people were earned by the Scouts, but the Adult Recognition awards are by nomination only.

The religious emblems and badges that the Boy and Girl Scouts earned this year are the Family of God, the I Live My Faith, the Light of Christ, the Parvuli Dei (Children of God), the Ad Altare Dei (To the Altar of God), the Pope Pius XII, and the International Awareness Award.

Not as common as the other religious medals, the International Awareness Award must be earned through more than the usual Scouting merit work. Under the direction of their leader Ed Hoekstra, three members of Venture Crew 57 from St. Luke’s Parish in Eureka, Cody Twait, Chase Schierer and Tayler McGillis, earned the award this year by increasing their knowledge of the Catholic faith as it is lived in other lands and attending Mass in different Catholic rites.

Adult awards are given in recognition of outstanding contributions to the spiritual development of Catholic youth in the Boy or Girl Scouts or other affiliated organizations.

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