Record number of Scouts recognized as Pillars of Faith

COLUMBIA—A host of hardworking Scouts reaped their rewards at the Catholic Scout Convocation held Feb. 4 at St. Joseph Church.

The annual event honors youth who earned religious emblems dur­ing the previous year. Bishop Rob­ert E. Guglielmone led the service, which drew more than 200 Scouts, parents and troop leaders. He pre­sented emblems and congratulated everyone for their work and commit­ment.

Scouts must complete specific tasks and projects to earn the religious emblems, which focus on different aspects of the faith.

Twenty Boy Scouts received the Ad Altare Dei emblem, and 17 received the Pope Pius XII award.

The Pillars of Faith award, which is bestowed upon those who earn all four religious emblems, was pre­sented to eight youth: Joshua Bar­row, Matthew Loewer, and Michael McLeer of Greenville; Christopher Charlton and Cooper McBurney of Columbia; Noah Theobald of Aiken; and Nathan Tirpak and Christian Zimmerman of Mount Pleasant.

“That is the most we’ve ever had to earn Pillars of Faith,” said Jim Weiskircher, chairman of the Dio­cese of Charleston’s Catholic Com­mittee on Scouting. “It really shows a lot of dedication. For a Scout to earn all four of the religious awards is a big accomplishment.”

One difference this year was that no young women who had earned awards were in attendance. Weiskircher said he hopes that will change next year. Some religious awards were given to younger girls involved in Scouting at the annual Catholic Camporee held in the fall.

Awards also went to adults who have been outstanding volunteers in Scouting. Chris Loewer of Troop 521 in Greenville, and John Tirpak of Troop 59 in Mount Pleasant, received the St. George Emblem. The Bronze Pelican award went to Joe Deskevich and Mike Collins of Troop 115 in Aik­en, and John Young of Troop 518 in Mount Pleasant.

The day was special for Chris Loewer and his son Matthew because they were able to officially celebrate their family’s commitment to Scouting.

“It felt great to know I’ve completed all four of the awards,” said Matthew, 15. “I really felt like I was growing in my faith while completing all of them.”

Mr. Loewer has volunteered with Scouting for nine years, serving as a Scoutmaster and a leader at the Camporee, plus supervising his troop’s religious emblem program.

“To get recognized like this is a humbling experience,” he said. “We do this work for the young people.”

Top photo: Alex Kirol (left) of Troop 277 at St. Anne Church in Rock Hill and Matthew Hitchcock (right) of Troop 287 at St. John Neumann Church in Columbia process into St. Joseph Church before the annual Catholic Scout Convocation on Feb. 4.