Please allow Parishes to continue to Charter Boy Scout Units

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August 2017

Dear Friend of the Winona Catholic Community and Troop 13/Pack 13 of St. Mary’s Parish, Winona, MN:

Earlier this summer, Boy Scout leadership from our parish received notification from Bishop John Quinn, via his legal representative, that a decision has been made to prohibit Catholic parishes in the Diocese of Winona from Chartering/Sponsoring Boy Scout units as of December 31, 2017. In addition, Boy Scout units will no longer be able to meet on parish grounds after December 31, 2018. A firm or clear rationale for this decision has not been communicated to us. What has been communicated is the diocese’s concern about eliminating “potential litigation issues” and/or concern about the Boy Scouts’ lack of adherence to church teaching.

As involved Winona Catholic parishioners and enthusiastic leaders within the Boy Scout programs at our parish, we request that the Bishop reconsider his decision.We provide the following rationale for our request:

1) The Scouting program is based on the following ideals which are in direct alignment with the Church’s teachings on the inherent dignity of each human person.

        *The mission of the Boy Scouts of America: To prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
        *The Scout Oath: On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.
       *The Scout Law: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.  

2) The National Catholic Committee on Scouting has provided assurance that religious partners (ie. sponsoring Catholic parishes) will continue to have the right to make decisions (ie. membership decisions) for their units based on their religious beliefs. 

3) Scouting is a vibrant and strong youth ministry vehicle in our parish. We believe the loss of partnership between the Catholic parish and the Boy Scouts will result in missed opportunities for Catholic/Christian evangelization of our youth. Note this anecdote from one of our present leaders:

             “Our cub scout den meets about three times each month, at St. Mary’s, for about nine months per year. This means that our boys are in the parish, around Fr. Jim and other Catholic/Christians, for about 27 hours/year. How many young members of our parish attend mass more than 27 Sundays each year? The exposure our scouts have to the Catholic Christian community is significant . . . Every missionary understands that the first stage in evangelization is coming to know, understand and join the culture you are trying to reach . . . Through scouting at our parish, young boys are becoming familiar with the parish and seeds for the future are being planted.”

4) Scouting provides a structured vehicle for youth and adults to work together and develop leadership skills that are then returned to the Parish/School/Community through service. Our scouts have served our local Catholic community in numerous ways over the years: many Eagle projects at our parishes and schools, participation in parish festivals, fish fries, pancake breakfasts, parish-facility clean-up days, liturgical ministries within our communal worship gatherings, service projects within the broader Winona community.

If you feel as we do, that our parish not only benefits from but is called to provide youth ministry witness and mentorship of boys participating in the Boy Scout program, we encourage you to sign this petition asking Bishop Quinn to reconsider his decision.  Please pray for our youth and our parish family.



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