A project of the National Catholic Committee for Trail Life USA


The Catholic Trail

CATHOLICS IN TRAIL LIFE

Sadly, the Church has been divided for centuries, but God did not divide us. He wants us to ask for His grace to heal the divisions and restore all His sheep to full communion. Trail Life USA includes many like-minded Christian faith communities who remain divided in important questions regarding theology and authority, but -- Thanks be to God -- this does not prevent us from working together on the vast areas in which we agree.

Many Catholics rightly approach with caution an effort that is infused with the energy and passion of our Christian brethren in the evangelical protestant traditions, but which does not necessarily include dogmatic formation and an emphasis on the sacraments. Yet, nothing in the Trail Life Statement of Faith and Values is inconsistent with Church Teaching. Rather, it is a minimalist statement expressing that with which Catholics and their evangelical protestant brethren agree. Significantly, the language adopted by Trail Life USA is identical to the language adopted by the American Heritage Girls, and Catholic participation in AHG is the single largest source of growth in AHG in recent years.

A Robust Catholic Culture

Some folks prefer to work exclusively with other Catholics in forming an alternative adventuring program for boys. Rest assured, if we had any doubts as to the ability of a troop to build an authentic Catholic culture that permeates its Trail Life program, we would likewise seek a separate path. However, faced with no obstacles to robust Catholic participation in Trail Life, and recalling our mandate to be goo stewards with our resources, we have chosen to encourage strong Catholic participation in Trail Life, working alongside our like-minded Christian brethren in other Trail Life units to build a truly attractive alternative to what the BSA is now offering. To learn more about the National Catholic Committee of Trail Life USA, visit us here.

Keep in mind that nothing in the Statement of Faith and Values is inconsistent with Church Teaching. Rather, it is a minimalist statement expressing that with which Catholics and their evangelical protestant brethren agree. Significantly, the language adopted by Trail Life USA is identical to the language adopted by the American Heritage Girls, and Catholic participation in AHG is the single largest source of growth in AHG in recent years.

Moreover, if the Statement can be described as a "floor", there is no "ceiling" within Trail Life on how robust the Catholic faith may be lived. Indeed, the entire reason for the National Catholic Committee for Trail Life is to encourage the growth of strong Catholic identity troops within Trail Life USA, where the faith can be practiced to the fullest in troops that embrace the Catholic faith and wish to develop a robust Catholic culture.

The New Evangelism and Unity Within the Church

Our prayer is that our involvement in a Christian program that preserves the best of the movement initiated by Robert Baden Powell might promote evangelization and greater unity in the Church while instilling the character, leadership, and love for adventure that we impart to our young boys striving to become good Catholic men.

While we cannot pretend there is unity where it does not yet exist, the National Catholic Committee views Trail Life as a fertile soil from which great healing and discovery may -- by the grace of God -- occur among lapsed Catholics and devout evangelical protestants. After all, what sort of Catholics would we be if we were not confident that the evidence supports our "case" for the notion that the Catholic Church has, pursuant to Christ's promise never to abandon her, best preserved the faith in its fullness?

As we work together with those who are not yet in full communion with the Church, but whose hearts and minds are so open to Christ, the Holy Spirit undoubtedly will work to lead all Christians home.

The Catholic Trail

National Catholic Committee
of Trail Life USA
c/o WitnessWorks Foundation
for a Culture of Life

4 Family Life Lane
Front Royal, Virginia 22630
Tel 540.622.8070
Fax 540.622.2247