by Susan Fotovich McCabe
Special to The Leaven
OVERLAND PARK — Prayer is the first step to a lasting relationship with Jesus.
That’s the message Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann delivered during Benediction with 60 young girls participating in a guided children’s eucharistic adoration as part of the American Heritage Girls (AHG) Scouting program.
The girls represented troops from the Church of the Ascension, Overland Park; Holy Trinity, Lenexa; St. Michael the Archangel, Leawood; and Curé of Ars, Leawood. During Benediction, many of the girls earned their Eucharistic Adoration badge from the National Catholic Committee for Scouting (NCCS).
The girls gathered as an opportunity to pray in solidarity with other AHG troops and with the support of Archbishop Naumann.
At Benediction, which was held at Ascension, Archbishop Naumann’s homily to the girls and their families emphasized the importance of being “persistent in our prayers to the Father.” He shared inspiration from Pope Emeritus Benedict, who told Catholics that learning to pray will help you follow God’s will, wherever it leads.
“Have you ever nagged your parents for something you want?” Archbishop Naumann asked the girls. “Jesus teaches us that it’s OK to ask him for the things you want and need.
“Ultimately, we have to put it in Jesus’ hands, just as you do with your parents. He knows what you need.”
Founded in 1995 in Cincinnati, AHG is a faith-based, character development program for girls 5 to 18 years of age. The organization is dedicated to the mission of building women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country.
AHG girls across the nation and the globe participate in badge programs, service projects, leadership opportunities and outdoor experiences — all with an emphasis on Christian values and family involvement.
According to AHG Ascension troop shepherd Kaylene Brown, the girls had to complete a number of requirements to earn the NCCS Eucharistic Adoration badge, including reading and discussing John 6:48-52, praying the rosary, singing the traditional adoration song “Come Adore” and participating in a guided adoration for children.
The troops also participated in a lesson taught by Father Michael Guastello, associate pastor of Ascension, where they studied the reading and viewed the empty monstrance up close, as well as the veil worn during Benediction. The group has worked to achieve other faith-based badges, including the American Saints and Rosary badges.
“As our troop’s shepherd, I am responsible for praying for and with the troop,” Brown said. “Our focus is always rooted in Christ, and spirituality isn’t lost among the fun. I want to encourage the girls to see spirituality as fun and beautiful.”
As a young girl, Kristi Slay, a member of Prince of Peace Parish in Olathe, participated in Girl Scouts. Today, her daughter Sydney, age 7, participates in AHG. Kristi is an AHG Ascension troop assistant leader, and says it’s important for her daughter to participate in the Scouting program.
“I wanted my daughter to learn more about the Catholic faith. As I learned more about American Heritage Girls and its emphasis on faith, I thought it was worth pursuing,” Slay said.
Similarly, Kimberly Dold wanted her daughter, 6-year-old Kate, to participate in a Scouting organization that embraces Catholic values. Kimberly participated in Girl Scouts as a young girl.
“American Heritage Girls is a very well-rounded program that develops women of character,” Dold said. “Working toward our Adoration badge really taught our girls that Jesus is there for everybody.”