By Tim Lilley
The Message editor
Scouts and scout leaders gathered March 4 at Evansville’s Good Shepherd Parish for the annual retreat sponsored by the Diocesan Committee on Catholic Scouting. Father Garrett Braun, a former scout, celebrated the opening Mass for the retreat. DCCS Chaplain Deacon Tony Schapker of St. John the Baptist Parish in Newburgh, assisted. Scout Joshua Baehl of Troop 393 at St. Wendel Parish in St. Wendel served the Mass.
The retreat’s theme was based on John 6:48, “I am the Bread of Life.” The DCCS picked the theme as part of the Eucharistic Renewal in the Diocese of Evansville. Scouts who attended are members of troops sponsored by St. Benedict Cathedral Parish in Evansville, Holy Family Parish in Jasper, St. John the Baptist Parish in Newburgh and St. Wendel Parish in St. Wendel.
The Gospel of the day was Matthew 5:43-48, in which Jesus encourages his disciples to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them. During his homily, Father Garrett told the scouts that there may be times in their lives when, because of anger or other reasons, they may consider someone an enemy; but he encouraged them to contemplate whether that person is truly an enemy.
He recounted a story from WWI about troops from both sides, engaged in brutal trench warfare, who called local truces in December 1914 to meet in “No Man’s Land” – the space between the two sides’ trenches – to celebrate Christmas together.
He said, “The fighting was brutal; neither side could advance because of the nature of the fighting. They declared truces across numerous places to share Christmas together. This is a witness of sworn enemies united in faith. So I ask again – do we really have enemies?”
Father Garrett suggested that the Christmas celebrations made the devil – the evil one who truly is our sworn enemy – angry because of the Christian unity marked by the truces and gatherings. He told the scouts that, during Lent, we arm ourselves with true weapons against our one true enemy. He called the Eucharist “our true and greatest weapon.”
Folllwing Mass, the scouts and scout leaders gathered for a group photo with Father Garrett, a son of St. John the Baptist Parish in Newburgh. Following the photo, Father Garrett shared his vocation story with them.
Diocese of Evansville Seminarians Nathan Folz, Aaron Herrenbruck and Deacon Stephen McGinnis made presentations related to the retreat theme. Nathan spoke on the nature of bread as physical and, in the case of the Eucharist, spiritual food. Deacon Stephen spoke on Jesus as the bread of Life. Aaron discussed how we can receive the bread of life and how that affects our lives.
Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction with Deacon Tony was part of the afternoon session, and Father Bernie Etienne of Holy Rosary Parish in Evansville offered Reconciliation. There were also several other activities reflecting the theme. The Eucharistic Miracle Exhibit that is touring the diocese was available for viewing, and the scouts viewed a short video on the Eucharistic Miracle at Bolsena.
The DCCS recognized Deacon Charlie Koressel of St. Philip Parish in Posey County, who recently completed 18 years of service as DCCS Chaplain. The committee also presented adult leader Rodney Baehl of St. Wendel Parish the Bronze Pelican Emblem for his service in fostering scouting as youth ministry.
DCCS member Joseph Dickinson contributed to this story.