a project of the
Introducing a better way to communicate
Hi folks.  It has been too long a time in coming, but our e-news letter has arrived.  Although we will be working to improve it, we hope you like the results so far.  See the top two sidebar articles at right for an explanation of the name "CatholicTrail Wayfarer".  

Please help us get word to those Catholic troops whose contact information we may not have already.  Encourage your contacts with other Catholic Troops to request, either by contacting Trail Life USA headquarters or by contacting the Catholic Committee directly, that they start receiving  The CatholicTrail Wayfarer.  

Catholic Clergy supporting 
the Catholic Committee
in its work with Trail Life
With joy and gratitude we are hapy to announce that the Most Reverend James D. Conley, Bishop of Lincoln (Nebraska); the Most Reverend David Kagan, Bishop of Bismarck (North Dakota); and the Most Reverend Michael J. Sheridan, Bishop of Colorado Springs (Colorado), have agreed to join our new Episcopal Advisory Board and to offer their counsel to the Committee.  We are very excited to have these successors to the Apostles guiding us and enthusiastically supporting the work of forming young Catholic men in their faith.

In addition, the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) now lists the National Catholic Committtee for Trail Life USA as a "Catholic scouting" option on its web site.

We are also thrilled to have as our very own chaplain, Father Shenan Boquet, president of Human Life International, as well as our vice-chaplain, Father Ed Horkan, pastor of Our Lady of the Valley parish in Luray, Virginia.  Father Boquet addressed the most recent Trail Life USA national convention in Nashville.  Father Horkan has served on the Arlington Diocese Catholic Committee for Scouting.  Father Horkan's writing in support of alternative youth adventuring options for Catholics has appeared on the Committee's website.  We thank Father Boquet and Father Horkan for their constant support of Catholic participation in Trail Life USA.     

Catholic Committee enters into a formal Ministry Alliance with Trail Life USA
Did you know that, reflecting the mutual desires of Trail Life and of Catholic clergy, the National Catholic Committee for Trail Life USA has been established as an independent nonprofit corporation?  In fact, our official name is "Faithful Troops of the Immaculata", with "National Catholic Committee for Trail Life USA" as a name under which we operate.  

Mindful of the ineffective efforts of in-house volunteer organizations to prevent a compromising of mission in legacy adventuring organizations, the National Catholic Committee established its autonomy to ensure that our mission integrity is never compromised.  The independence of the National Catholic Committee helps it to encourage the  responsiveness of Trail Life USA to the ongoing concerns of Catholics -- a goal to which Trail Life USA aspires so much that the headquarters staff encouraged the Catholic Committee in this approach.

Of course, the National Catholic Committee's relationship with Trail Life USA is an extremely close and positive collaboration, as is reflected in this Memorandum of Ministry Alliance.      

Catholic Committee awaiting canonical approval and authority to release a
Catholic religious emblems program

The Catholic Committee is eager to release a Catholic emblems program but does not yet have permission to call any educational program that we release "Catholic".   We are working with the Diocese of Arlington, where the Committee is headquartered, as Canon Law requires in order to obtain this permission.  We are seeking formal  recognition as a lay association of the faithful.
The Diocese is also reviewing our proposed Bylaws that provide for establishing local and regional Catholic Committees at the Diocesan and Provincial levels, as well as recognition of existing Committees on which a local Ordinary may wish to continue to rely.  These Bylaws also establish procedures for elections to the National Catholic Committee.  

We understand these steps are long overdue, and we will be seeking feedback on the emblems program in particular once we have permission to do so.   In the meantime, please see the article below for our first "Suggestion Box" feature, addressing one possible approach from among the many that can be used right now in order to satisfy religious advancement requirements.


An existing option for satisfying the Religious Advancement requirements and for fostering a robust culture of fraternal support in the faith among Adventurers in your troop
One approach that has proved effective for Adventurers is to add a "Band of Brothers" meeting of at leat an hour in duration at the end of every regular Troop meeting.  Always begin and end with prayer, and if at all possible have your troop chaplain, preferably a priest, involved throughout this element of your program. 

Start these meetings with a snack and refreshment opportunity for the Trailmen, and hold a parrallel activity for the Navigators so that the troop meetings do not seem longer for some than for others.  Never make the Band of Brothers session feel "too" separate and distinct from regular troop meetings.  You do not want to suggest that the Band of Brothers component is less important than any other element of your program, but rather emphasize that it is essential to why the troop exists.  

Remind your Trailmen that nearly anyone can get his dad to bring him and his buddies camping a few times every year.  This troop is about integrating the faith and adventuring in a way that always reinforces the manliness of virtuous conduct.   You cannot take any one element of the program lightly without doing harm to the overall goal of fostering adventure, character, and leadership.

In addition, each Adventurers patrol should elect one Trailman as the "Band of Brothers Mentor" to lead his patrol in this session.  If your troop has enough boys to form multiple patrols, there should be multiple Band of Brothers mentors -- one leading a discussion in each patrol.  This also reinforces patrol identity. 

Now, relying on distinctly Catholic program materials available at, such as "Y Disciple" or "Lectio", show a short video and distribute the questions designed to promote discussion afterward.  (If your parish or troop does not have access to, see the sidebar article for alternatives.)  Sometimes the program materials may include "icebreakers" and other content that will not be necessary for boys who already camp together regularly, and these will only slow down and potentially trivialize the Band of Brothers program in the eyes of the Trailmen.  Feel free to cut out those "extra" elements and focus entirely on the video and the discussion elements.  

Neither Troopmaster nor Chaplain -- nor any regiostered adult -- should be perceived as leading this session beyond providing the curriculum materials to the patrols.  Instead, ensure that the Trailmen perceive this as a fundamentally boy-led period.  A registered adult leader should monitor, but not lead, the discussions within each patrol.  

We hope this idea is helpful for your Catholic Troop.  The idea, of course, is to build among your Adventurers a true Band of Brothers who fraternally support each other as they strive to live their faith.

Some additional resources are provided in the sidebar article, at right, entitled "Alternatives in Excellent Catholic Content".

Keep raising the standard, and Walk Worthy! 

What is a Wayfarer?
A Wayfarer is a person who travels by foot.  In a well-known traditional hymn, the "wayfaring stranger" is a pilgrim who stands apart as he moves through this world in hopeful anticipation of the Kingdom of God.  Inasmuch as Trailmen have accepted the Biblical challenge to "Walk Worthy", we have adopted this name for a newsletter that encourages robust Catholic participation in Trail Life USA.  

What is the "CatholicTrail"?
The website of the National Catholic Committee for Trail Life USA is found at the CatholicTrail website. Please check the site regularly and submit reports and pictures of your troop activities so that all Catholics participating in Trail Life can share ideas and resources as to the best ways to conduct a rigorous adventuring program within a robust  Catholic culture of fraternal support in the faith.     


Many thanks to Joe Gillespie, with Troop FL-0118 in Tallahassee, chartered by Good Shepherd Catholic Church, for putting together the Catholic Troop App.  If you have not yet visited the site and registered for access to this tool, please take a look.

What is the Suggestion Box Feature?
Until the Catholic Committe can release an emblems program, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with the many possible curricula available to troops who are operating a Band of Brothers or Worthy Life program in order to:

  • build fraternity in the faith,
  • maintain a robust Catholic culture within the troop,
  • assist parents in the faith formation of their sons, and
  • better teach Trailmen about authentic manhood.

One such option for Adventurers is discussed in our "Suggestion Box Feature" article below.  

Please share your experiences and ideas with us so we can pass them along to other Catholic Troops and make this "Suggestion Box Feature" a valuable tool in every edition of  The CatholicTrail Wayfarer.  

We will attempt to provide additional suggestions in this regard in future editions of The CatholicTrail Wayfarer.  

The lessons you have already learned can assist others confronting similar challenges.

Alternatives in Excellent Catholic Content
At left, we discuss one possible approach for your troop.  It may or may not prove a good fit.  

To craft similar programs aimed at your Woodlands Trail unit or your Navigators, or to create a program aimed at satisfying the Worthy Life requirements specifically (rather than Band of Brothers), or simply to seek an alternative to the materials offered at, you might also consider these excellent resources:
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