SCRANTON – Since becoming involved in scouting four years ago, Thomas Cain of Jermyn has made many new friends and gained more self-confidence.

“As a boy scout, I try to advance by myself and not with other people. I try to do it on my own,” the sixth grader said.

Brendan Kane, left, from Saint Maria Goretti Parish, Laflin, and Robert Franckiewicz from Saint Nicholas-Saint Mary Parish, Wilkes-Barre, show off the Pope Pius XII medals they each received at the Diocesan Scouts Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton on April 20, 2024. (Photo/Mike Melisky)

On April 20, 2024, Cain was one of ten young people who received awards as part of the Diocese of Scranton’s annual Scout Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Peter.

Cain, who is a parishioner of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish, was one of seven students to receive the Ad Altare Dei award, which centers on the Sacraments and equips a scout to take their place as a maturing Catholic.

The three other scouts received the Pope Pius XII emblem, which reflects the ideal of the youth’s growing awareness of the Word of God as well as their place in the world.

Ethan Stangline of Pleasant Mount, who is a parishioner of Saint Katherine Drexel Parish, also received the Ad Altare Dei award.

“Ad Altare Dei meant a lot of hard work and long determination. We had to answer questions based off how scouting relates to Baptism and the Sacraments and how it affects our daily lives,” the seventh grader explained.

Award recipient Ryan Fagan of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Throop said earning his Ad Altare Dei award was an important milestone.

“I think it means a lot because I learned a lot more than I knew before – mostly about marriage and baptism. The other Sacraments I knew somewhat about, even though Confirmation I didn’t know much about though,” Fagan said.

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant and homilist for the Scout Mass.

After handing each scout his award, he congratulated them on their accomplishments.

“We are extremely proud of you. You are a wonderful sign to all of us – of the young Church of this Diocese – and of a future that is bright and hope-filled because of you,” Bishop Bambera said. “We are richly blessed by all of you.”

In the days following the Mass, the Boy Scouts of America announced a change in name – becoming “Scouting America” in Feb. 2025 – but it will not affect affiliated Catholic scout troops, the executive director of the Catholic Church’s official committee overseeing Scouting programs in the U.S. told OSV News.

“It doesn’t really impact us at all,” said John Anthony, who heads up the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, which sponsors Catholic Scouting.