By Bonny Van 

The Catholic Commentator 

With a color guard proving a dramatic entrance at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Baton Rouge, hundreds of scouts and scout leaders made their way down the aisle to the front pews on Sunday, Aug. 25, for the Catholic Committee on Scouting (CCOS) Religious Award Ceremony. The event began with the procession of the color guard, Knights of Columbus and Bishop Michael G. Duca, who was accompanied by Father Matthew Graham, pastor of St. Jules Church in Belle Rose and St. Elizabeth in Paincourtville, and Father Chris Decker, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Maringouin, St. Francis Xavier Cabrini Church in Livonia and St. Joseph Church in Grosse Tete.  


Photos by Bonny Van | The Catholic Commentator


Following the Pledge of Allegiance and the entrance hymn of “America the Beautiful,” Bishop Duca blessed the medals that would be distributed to 115 scouts.  

“Heavenly Father, we ask you to bless these medals before us,” the bishop said. “They represent hard work of these young men and women who recognize your presence in their scouting experience. To be a good a citizen is also to be a good man or woman of faith. We ask you to bless these medals as a sign of their hard work. We ask that you continue to bless them in their success. May they see these medals not only as a sign of their accomplishment but as a sign of their faith in you, our Lord Jesus Christ, and in their church.”  

Religious awards were given to both leaders and youth in 10 categories. Bronze Pelican Award recipients were Gina Wilson and Elizabeth Matherne. St. George Emblem recipients were Deacon Richard Grant and Ron Usie. Father Graham is the new chaplain of the CCOS, taking over duties from former scout chaplain Deacon Grant.  



“I am excited to be once again part of the Catholic Committee on Scouting for the Diocese as I was the chairman in 2009 when I discerned to enter the seminary and study for the priesthood” said Father Graham. “So it has been exactly 10 years since I left and I’m happy to return. My time in the Boy Scouts as a youth and a leader helped me to discern my vocation. My duties are to be a spiritual guide for the committee, answer questions that come up in regards to the Church teaching, and to help coordinate with the diocese on some of our functions such as the religious emblems ceremony and a yearly Mass and luncheon with the bishop.”  

Other religious awards distributed included God is Love; Family of God; Our Lady’s Award; I Live My Faith; Mary, the First Disciple; Light of Christ; Parvuli Dei; and, Ad Altare Dei. After medals were awarded, the bishop spoke about the importance of having future leaders who are strong in their faith.  

“More and more today, we need leaders in the future who are going to be young men and women who can be leaders where their faith shows through their actions, their moral conduct, their strength of character and this is one step in the development of those goals in life,” said Bishop Duca.  

The closing hymn for the ceremony was “God Bless America.”  

Accompanied by the Knights of Columbus , the scouts and their families processed across the road to Mercy’s Parish Activity Center for a reception and photos with the bishop.  

Members of the Knights of Columbus who attended the event were Don Ducote, Jim LaBauve, Vernon Ducote, Barry Miles, Van Keller, Herb Holkamp, David Caruso and Randy Millet. 


Four receive Catholic Adult Awards 

There were four recipients of the Catholic Adult Awards, two for the Bronze Pelican and two for the St. George medals.  

The Bronze Pelican is awarded to individuals in recognition of their efforts to contribute to the spiritual nourishment of Catholic boys and girls in scouting.  

The two Bronze Pelican Award winners were Elizabeth Matherne and Gina Arrigo Wilson.  

Matherne, from Girl Scout Troop 1437 from Immaculate Conception Church in Denham Springs, has been instrumental in encouraging 17 scouts to earn their religious emblems and has also planned additional religious events centering on the Blessed Mother.  


Wilson has worn many hats at St. George Church, including den leader for Cub Scout Pack 136, leader to Girl Scout Troop 10591 and religious emblem counselor. She has been instrumental in encouraging 22 Scouts to earn their religious emblems.  

The St. George medal is presented to individuals who have made significant and outstanding contributions to the spiritual development of Catholic youth through scouting.  

The recipients of the St. George Award were Deacon Richard Grant and Ron Usie.  

Deacon Grant has served more than 10 years as the Catholic Scout chaplain. He has been a strong advocate for Catholic scouting and the American Heritage Girls not only in his home parish of Our Lady of Mercy Church in Baton Rouge but the entire diocese.  

He has helped host award ceremonies, trainings, rosary and saints programs and has been a strong leader to the Catholic Committee on Scouting for Baton Rouge.  

Usie has served as scoutmaster to Troop 472 at St. John the Baptist Church in Zachary. He served for many years on the Catholic Committee on Scouting and worked diligently as the webmaster to keep us all informed.  

He also served as Religious Emblem counselor for his troop. He wears many hats in his home parish including RCIA instructor, eucharistic minister and lector.  

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