Where is there a boy, or for the matter of that a grown-up man, even in these materialistic times to whom the call of the wild and the open road does not appeal? — Lord Baden-Powell, Aids to Scoutmastership

Pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Rita  

But in their eyes, I saw that flame of the old Faith which once was the soul of Europe and the light of the world. You can’t imagine the thrill of seeing it once again…even if only in the eyes of little children.
–Michael Matt in an article about Catholic Explorers in France

With two Sisters of Immaculata University

On a beautiful, sunny and warm Saturday afternoon, a group of FNE Explorers from the 1rst North Star group set out on a mini pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Rita in Philadelphia, PA. Accompanied by a few of their leaders, the timber wolves assisted at mass and then were treated to a tour of the shrine by our wonderful tour guide Ms. Madeline. The timber wolves all showed their deep interest and knowledge of their faith and took in the sights. Pictured above are some of the timber wolves with two nuns we met at the shrine who were kind enough to spend some time speaking with the children and have their picture taken with them.

There was one word that people kept saying in reference to the timber wolves that were there that day. Hope. We heard them talking at a distance, they came and told us. But the kids brought them hope. On this sunny summer Saturday, when they could be doing anything else, but chose to visit the shrine of a saint. That they wore their uniforms so proudly, and prayed with such fervor. They inspired the other pilgrims on this day.

We were blessed to have one benefactor, who was so touched by the children that she made a donation so the children could all receive a vial of Holy Oil from the shrine. Grace flowed in both directions and we could see that though Christendom may have no boundaries on a map, it exists.

Thank you and prayers for our benefactor!

The boys and girls were able to leave their prayer intentions at the shrine, and at then end, gave the first timber wolf howl in the city of Philadelphia! It was a mighty howl right in front of the shrine. The faith and example of children can be a mighty thing in itself, and there were a few people that spoke to us, that asked about us, and who just noticed the kids and were touched by their humble and innocent faith.

Among the statues and art at the shrine, and all the history the kids were able to learn about, they were also able to offer their prayer intentions in front of some relics of St. Rita, which included a first class relic in a reliquary, as well as a pillow donated by her shrine in Cascia on which she rested her hands in repose. We are truly blessed to have a shrine to this wonderful saint so close by.

After sharing this day of prayer and pilgrimage, all met up at Akela and Raksha’s home for a BBQ to celebrate our time together as we prepare for camp in July with our brothers in Canada, and to begin anew with new otters, timber wolves and explorers in September for our second year of faith and adventure!

The Church at the Shrine of St. Rita

Saint of the Month, St. Norbert  

Saint Norbert was born in Xanten on the left bank of the Rhine, near Wesel, in the Electorate of Cologne. He grew up there and was also educated there. His father, Heribert, Count of Gennep, was related to the imperial house of Germany and the House of Lorraine. Ordained as a subdeacon, Norbert was appointed to a canonry at Xanten where he lived a life of pleasure. Soon after, he was summoned to the court of Frederick of Cologne and later to that of Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, where he became the emperor’s almoner (a church officer in charge of distributing charity). He avoided ordination to the priesthood and even declined an appointment as bishop of Cambrai in 1113. Norbert allowed himself to be so carried away by pleasure that nothing short of a miracle of grace could make him lead the life of an earnest cleric. Following a near-fatal horse-riding accident, his faith deepened and he renounced his appointment at Court. He returned to Xanten to lead a life of penance, placing himself under the direction of Cono, Abbot of St Sigeberg, near Cologne. In 1115, Norbert founded the Abbey of Fürstenberg.

In 1119 the bishop of Laon requested Norbert to found a religious order in the Diocese of Laon, so that his work might be perpetuated after his death. The young community at first lived in huts of wood and clay, arranged like a camp around the chapel of St. John the Baptist, but they soon built a larger church and a monastery for the religious who joined them in increasing numbers. Going to Cologne to obtain relics for their church, Norbert discovered through a vision, the spot where those of St. Ursula and her companions, of St. Gereon, and of other martyrs lay hidden. Before long bishops were asking Norbert to open new houses all over France and Germany. Many noble men and women joined his order. Once, Norbert was met by Theobald, Count of Champagne, who wished to become a member of the order; but Norbert insisted that God wished Theobald to marry and do good in the world. Theobald agreed to this, but begged Norbert to prescribe a rule of life. Norbert prescribed a few rules and invested Theobald with the white scapular of the order, and thus, in 1122, the Third Order of St. Norbert was instituted.

St. Norbert preached against, and overcame the Sacramentarian heresy, which denied the real presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  Some who fell prey to his heresy stole consecrated hosts to desecrate them, but Norbert convinced many of them to return sacred hosts.

When two rival popes were elected after the death of Honorius II, Norbert helped try to heal the Church by getting his admirer the emperor to support the first elected, Innocent II. At the end of his life he was made an archbishop but he died soon after on June 6, 1134 at the age of 53.

Catholic Encyclopedia.

Catholic Online.

Historic Meeting at Camp Turner  

This past weekend we had our fist joint camp with our Canadian brothers and sisters at Camp Turner in New York’s Allegany State Park (south of Buffalo). The Timberwolves from both dens had a blast, not daunted in the least by uncooperative weather. It was a historic meeting and huge success. The wolves from both countries met and got along great, often working together in mixed sixes and playing during free time. For us leaders it was great to see these kids who had never met before, running around like old friends. Many of the girls plan to write letters to each other! It was also a pleasure to meet and learn from the Canadian leaders.

Friday started out a bit rough as the North Star group arrived during a soaking rain. The leaders were a bit concerned about the weather, but of course the wolves barely took notice of it. Happy to be out of their vans, they unloaded their gear and ran around the camp ground, set amidst the mountains of Allegany State Park with wisps of misty clouds rolling along the tree tops.

As the arrival time for the 1rst Four Arrows group came and went, we finally got the bad news that they were stuck at customs. It became clear that they would not arrive until well after Midnight, so we had to get our wolves to bed and delay our first meeting until the morning.

Opening Ceremonies
In the morning the rain continued as we met in the camp hall. Akela Paul gave a brief history of our movement in North America and emphasized the importance of the first meeting between US and Canadian groups. The leaders from both groups introduced themselves and Akela Chris gave words of welcome and thanks to our Canadian brothers and explained the symbolism behind our North Star name. Then we broke for Holy Mass at nearby Our Lady of Peace. The pastor, Fr. Melfi went out of his way to say Mass for us and held Eucharistic Adoration despite having many other obligations that day.

We returned to camp for breakfast and our formal opening ceremonies. The Timberwolves from both countries gathered together in the circle and all sang the National Anthems of both Countries, followed by the Hail Holy Queen. All the leaders were proud of how well the wolves sang each other’s Anthems. All together the wolves did a great howl and a exciting day of activities, games, and crafts were underway.

The day culminated with our camp fire (held indoors and without the fire thanks to evening showers) featuring songs, stories, and skits. A hearty thanks to Kaa from the Four Arrows group for showing us new guys how its done! We heard a jungle book story from Akela Paul and then prayed the rosary all together before bed time.

Sunday started with Holy Mass of course, and after another excellent meal from the camp staff we cleanup our camp site and cabins like Timberwolves should. Wolves and leaders alike were sad that the weekend had to end, but had our best circle yet then said our good byes. Thus ended a tremendously successful camp, not letting any adversities stand in our way, in true FNE style!

A sepcial thanks to all the camp staff who were so helpful and prepared such excellent meals (including making our hamburger buns from scratch!). And also a special thanks to Fr. Melfi and all of Our Lady of Peace parish for being so generous and welcoming!

Many more pictures at our facebook site, and on picasa.



Meeting Summary for May 24th  

We had another great session of wildreness training graciously offered by our wilderness guid Ryan. After the opening circle Ryan started off by showing the boys how to make a solar still with a cup and a piece of plastic sheeting. MacGyver would have been proud! As the boys and girls worked at digging their holes, Ryan explained the importance of staying hydrated, especially when camping and hiking.  He also explained other sources of water to look for, including the most basic one, bringing your own.  Semper Parati!

Next we got some basic first aid training to treat common injuries like cuts, broken arms, and burn wounds. The wolves practiced on eachother, then our otters went out into the woods and each pretened to have a different injury. The Timberwolves divided into groups and each group hussled out to the aid of a fallen otter. The otters were taken to our makesift hospital where Ryan examined our wolves’ handiwork and gave them some more pointers.

Wilderness training took up the whole meeting so we wrapped up with our closing prayers and circle. Thanks again to Ryan for providing a great experience for the wolves, and a great end to our regular meetings for the year.