Local Catholic girls’ troop earns Pro-Life patch

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By Christine M. Williams, Anchor Correspondent

ATTLEBORO, Mass. — “Life is awesome and precious,” said 10-year-old Caitlin Brawley of Rehoboth. That concept became a reality when her American Heritage Girls troop earned the Respect Life Patch by serving at the Abundant Hope Pregnancy Resource Center in Attleboro.

On April 22, six of the troop’s nine members spent time sorting baby clothes and touring the center. The troop, chartered by Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Seekonk, was founded just over a year ago. A second troop, located in Worcester, was also founded last year. Currently, they are the only troops in the Commonwealth.

American Heritage Girls, an international faith-based scouting organization, added the Respect Life Patch last month. AHG, founded in Ohio in 1995, currently has more than 30,000 scouts in 48 states.

According to a press release, the new patch “reinforces the organization’s commitment to honoring life from conception to natural death.” The group incorporated the patch after a Michigan troop designed and earned a Pro-Life patch for participating in events like the 40 Days for Life campaign.

Caitlin said she enjoyed folding “a lot of cute baby clothes” while earning her Respect Life Patch. When asked if she would like to return to serve there in the future, she immediately gave an emphatic “yes.”

“Life is a gift, and too many people are forgetting that,” she added.

Fellow scout Emily Day, eight, of Rehoboth, said she too had fun organizing the baby clothes, particularly the clothing donated by a family with twin girls — there were two of each of the cute outfits.

She also looks forward to returning, saying, “I really like to sort things. I don’t know why.”

The troop has previously participated in Pro-Life service. Last month, they made Easter crosses and presented them to people in a nursing home.

Scouts, including Emily and Caitlin are Catholic, and since the troop is chartered by a Catholic parish, they often serve at their church. The girls sold roses at Massachusetts Citizens for Life’s annual rose drive in May last year. They also handed out and collected baby bottles filled with change that benefitted Abundant Hope. 

Many of the girls have supported the Pro-Life cause with their families as well.

Emily said she and her family regularly pray the Rosary for life. They have also prayed outside the Four Women Health Center in Attleboro, the only abortion clinic in the Diocese of Fall River, during the 40 Days for Life campaigns. The last time they participated, a man driving away from the clinic rolled down his window and told the vigilers that he and the woman with him decided not to abort their child.

“God makes life, and we shouldn’t have the right to take it away,” Emily said.

The national administration of AHG supports that sentiment.

The largest scouting group for girls in the nation, Girl Scouts of the USA, takes “no position” on abortion. This year, some Pro-Life groups boycotted Girl Scout cookies, citing the organization’s support of Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in the country. Girl Scouts of the USA claims “no official relationship” with Planned Parenthood. Individual troops are allowed to partner with the abortion giant.

On April 2, a committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a resource guide on Girl Scouts for Catholic parishes. The Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth did not support or oppose parishes’ involvement with the Scouting group. The committee recommended clear communication at the local level, adding that some dioceses give individual troops a document with expectations to ensure that “every Catholic troop is free from any programming or activities contrary to the Church’s teaching.”

Of the three million Girl Scouts nationwide, an estimated 400,000 are Catholic.

Some Catholic parents say they are more comfortable with their daughters participating in AHG since the organization is Pro-Life in word and deed. Last January, AHG assisted the Diocese of Arlington, Va. as the largest sponsor of its national prayer gathering and youth rally in Washington, D.C. prior to the March for Life.

Parents of local scouts say that these types of activities are what inspired them to start an AHG troop in Seekonk.

“As a Christian, [the Pro-Life cause] is something close to my heart,” said Elizabeth Day, Emily’s mother. Day co-founded the troop with Maureen Brawley, mother of Caitlin.

“The reason Maureen and I started this was because it was faith-based and had Christ at the center, and it was filled with Scripture and morals and values that are in line with our faith,” said Day.

Brawley said she is “thrilled” that AHG offers the Respect Life Patch.

“It’s such a great witness for these young girls,” she said, adding that she and her husband wanted Caitlin “to be involved in things that reinforced our values.”

“It keeps that moral compass where we want it as parents,” she said. 

© 2017 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing  †  Fall River, Massachusetts