At Holy Cross Church’s 10 o’clock Mass on April 23, three Boy Scouts from parish-sponsored Troop 9 were awarded the Ad Altare Dei medal.
As the Scouts heard in their first class, the words ad altare Dei mean “to the altar of God.” That comes from Psalm 43, which priest and altar boy used to pray together as the old Mass started with the so-called “prayers at the foot of the altar.” The priest began, Introibo ad altare Dei; and the server responded, Ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam: “I will go in to the altar of God. To God who gives joy to my youth.”
According to the Catholic Committee on Scouting, “The purpose of the Ad Altare Dei program is to help Catholic Scouts develop a fully Christian way of life in the faith community. The program is organized in chapters based on the seven Sacraments. The seven Sacraments are a primary means toward spiritual growth. This was the very first religious emblem program of any faith officially recognized by the Boy Scouts of America.”
To earn the AAD award, Anthony Frasca Jr., Kaleb Leininger, and Jack Williamson worked from September until March, meeting almost every Monday nite for classwork, in-depth discussions, and enactments about the seven sacraments. They learned to practice a lot of patience with each other (and of course with their instructors). They had homework every week. They had to do service projects. They had to interview people, including (worst of all!) their parents. It’s a very challenging program, and Anthony, Kaleb, and Jack worked really hard to complete it. Their parents were very supportive and encouraging, for which the Scouts and their emblem counselors are grateful.
Those emblem counselors were your humble blogger, who doubles as Troop 9’s chaplain, and Linda Atherton, chairman of the Catholic Committee on Scouting for the Peoria Diocese. Mrs. Atherton presented the medals to the Scouts, and Anthony Frasca Sr., Assistant Scoutmaster, gave them their AAD cards.
By a happy coincidence, the awards were given on April 23, St. George’s Day. It was the first available Sunday after the Scouts passed their boards of review on April 1 and the necessary paperwork was completed (because April 9 was Palm Sunday and April 16 was Easter).