Religious emblems awarded at diocesan Mass for Scouts, American Heritage Girls

Scouts and American Heritage Girls who received religious emblems and awards for their work over the last year pose with Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka and Father Glenn Harris, chaplain of Catholic Scouting in the Diocese of Peoria, after the Diocesan Scout and AHG Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria on Feb. 27. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Before distributing religious emblems earned by more than 70 Catholic Scouts or American Heritage Girls on Feb. 27, Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka called the youth and their adult leaders to an even higher goal.

Thomas Nemec salutes as the U.S. flag is presented and the “The Star-Spangled Banner” sung prior to the Diocesan Scout and American Heritage Girl Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on Feb. 27. He is a member of Troop 163 of St. Patrick Parish, Washington, and a recipient of the Pope Pius XII emblem. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

“I don’t want to diminish these awards,” Bishop Tylka said in congratulating the recipients during his homily at the annual Diocesan Scout and American Heritage Girl Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral, “but it’s not about a badge, an award, or a title. It’s about a life lived for Jesus as a disciple.”

Catholic Scouting assists in that mission, he said, by developing character and teaching lessons of faith and citizenship.

Bishop Tylka was the principal celebrant at the Sunday morning Mass, which was concelebrated by Father Glenn Harris, chaplain of Catholic Scouting in the Diocese of Peoria. Father Harris is pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Rapids City and St. Mary Parish in Hampton.

Scouts and American Heritage Girls from across the diocese served in several roles during the liturgy. Prior to the opening procession, eight youth carried flags — led by the U.S. and Vatican flags, followed by ones representing organizations and troops. Scouts throughout the cathedral then saluted as the assembly sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

About a dozen Scouts and American Heritage Girls assisted as servers.


In his homily, Bishop Tylka reflected on the day’s Mass readings through the lens of Scouting, frequently returning to the Gospel from St. Luke in which Jesus notes that trees are recognized by their fruit.

“Looking at your shirts,” he told the Scouts, “I see the many patches that show the things you’ve accomplished.” But Jesus, he added, “doesn’t look for success, he looks for fruit.

“Is your life bearing fruit,” he asked, defining fruit as influencing others toward God’s mercy and love through their compassion, kindness, and understanding. “As a disciple, has our life shown good fruit because of who we are as a child of God and a disciple of Jesus Christ?”

Showing the Marian Medals they received from Bishop Tylka at the Feb. 27 Mass are Lilly Twait and Therese Ramirez of American Heritage Girls Troop 2415, serving St. Luke in Eureka, Sacred Heart in Peoria, and St. Mary in Metamora. Lilly assisted Bishop Tylka at the diocesan Mass while Therese took part in the flag procession. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Bishop Tylka also shared a personal story regarding his experience as a Boy Scout in his youth, including regrets that he didn’t pursue an Eagle Scout project.

He was, however, awarded an Eagle Scout scarf by a Scout leader at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis last November, where Scouts had a large presence. “You’re a bishop and I think that counts,” the leader told him.

Bishop Tylka confessed that even though he didn’t feel it was deserved, he wore the scarf for a time at the conference.

“I had all kinds of Eagle Scouts coming up to me asking what my Eagle Scout project was,” he recalled. When he explained the situation, “I could see from their faces they were not happy.”

“I did not keep that scarf,” he said.


The presentation of the religious emblems (see accompanying list) took place near the end of Mass. It began with the announcement that the highest honor a diocese can present to adults for their support of the programs of the Boy Scouts of America — the St. George Emblem — was being awarded to Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC.

Bishop Tylka presents the Pope Pius XII award to Sophia Showalter, a member of Troop 2206 of St. Patrick Parish in Washington. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Bishop Jenky, who has guided the diocese for two decades, was to turn 75 during the week and his retirement was anticipated. He could not be present for the Mass.

“Bishop Jenky saw many years ago that youth and families in modern times are under attack,” said Dr. Linda Atherton, who chairs the Diocese of Peoria’s Catholic Committee on Scouting and American Heritage Girls.

“He often spoke of the battle for the souls of young men and saw in Boy Scouting an effective means to instill timeless values,” continued Atherton, a pediatrician from Champaign. “Many people share that vision. Even if we never cooked s’mores together over a roaring campfire, we found in Bishop Jenky a kindred spirit, a staunch supporter on the trail.”

The religious emblem recipients were called forward by Dr. Larry Atherton, the former Scoutmaster of Troop 121 in Champaign and a committee member of the Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting. He explained that emblems distributed at the Feb. 27 Mass were for 2022 recipients. Because of the pandemic, 2021 recipients received emblems at their parishes a year ago. The names of recipients from both years were printed in the Mass program and in the list accompanying this story.

Last year’s recipients were invited forward to receive a blessed St. Jude coin from Bishop Tylka.

“Keep on Scouting and keep on growing in your faith,” said Bishop Tylka at the conclusion of the awards presentation.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from the Mass have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook. Below are the list of awards presented.


 St. George Emblem — Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC

Pope Paul VI National Catholic Unit Excellence Award — Pack 3955 of Corpus Christi, Bloomington (Gold Level); Troop 109 of Christ the King and Sacred Heart, Moline (Gold Level)

Religious emblem recipients

God is Love — (2021) Cora Trombley (AHG 2112, Epiphany, Normal)

Tenderheart Emblem – (2021) Katelyn Hendrickson, Evelyn Miller, Eloise Anderson, Kiara Foster, Mya Head (AHG 2112, Epiphany, Normal) Abby Blasek (AHG 1737, St. Vincent de Paul, Peoria)

Marian Medal – (2021) Lilly Twait, Therese Ramirez, Jillian Bober, Rachel Fisher, Rebekah Fisher (AHG 2415, St. Luke, Eureka and Sacred Heart, Peoria and St. Mary, Metamora)

Light of Christ — Gabriel Smith, Noah Straub, Henry Bailey, Timothy Olsen, Edward Shimon (Pack 156, St. Vincent de Paul, Peoria), Jacob Joschko (Pack 18, St. Philomena, Peoria), Connor Emmons, Matthew Stanko, Benjamin D’Mello, Luke Matthew (Pack 3955, Corpus Christi / St. Patrick of Merna, Bloomington)

(2021) Wyatt Secrease, Ruth McIlvain, Nathan Mokos, Nathaniel Batsie, Maria Lugardo, Matthew McIlvain, Jake Blatzer, Matthew Woodward, Paulo Cervantes, Braden Isaac, Leonardo Curreli (Pack 121, St. Matthew, Champaign), Anthony Head, Isaac Henehan (Pack 3925, Epiphany, Normal)

Parvuli Dei — Theo Shimon (Pack 156, St. Vincent De Paul, Peoria), Jackson Taylor, Samuel Winschel (Pack 18, St. Philomena, Peoria), Mark Stanko (Pack 3955, St. Patrick of Merna, Bloomington)

(2021) Manuel Graf, Blake Mandle (Pack 109, Sacred Heart, Rock Island), Noah Cyphers (Pack 55, St. Patrick, Merna), Samuel Hannel (Pack 3925, Epiphany, Normal)

Ad Altare Dei — Joshua Stedwill, Augustus Isada, Thomas Steed (Troop 156, St. Jude and St. Vincent de Paul, Peoria), Wil Karduck, Henry Karduck, John Haggin, Kaleb Ritter (Troop 9, Holy Cross, Champaign)

(2021) Sophia Showalter, Hogan Johnnsen, Rebecca Hatton, David Stevenart, Patrick Hatton, Aidan Arrick (Troops 206, 2206, 165, St. Patrick, Washington)

Pope Pius XII — Garrett Castens, Jacob Peterson, Christian Lilius, Zachary Houtekier, Nicholas Forgie (Troop 109, Sacred Heart, Moline), Kenneth Ohr (Troop 109, Christ the King, Moline), Blake Burhoe, Brock Burhoe, Thomas Nemec (Troop 163, St. Patrick, Washington), Patrick Hatton,

Hogan Johnnsen (Troop 206, St. Patrick, Washington), Logan Fricke, Ryan Bender, Connor Messmer (Troop 28, St. Thomas, Peoria), Sophia Showalter (Troop 2206, St. Patrick, Washington)




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