Taunton parishioners assist Scout with Eagle project, 
help make parish history come alive


By Dave Jolivet
JolivetDB@comcast.net

TAUNTON, Mass. — When the majestic eagle takes flight, it soars so high above the terrain, it can see for miles and miles. Yet no matter how lofty or far it flies it always finds its way back home.

For one Boy Scout in Troop 22, near the end of a 10-year journey to becoming a distinguished Eagle Scout, he took flight on a project that would engage his fellow parishioners at Annunciation of the Lord Parish in Taunton, and together they found their way back home — its historical home, thanks to a well-planned and executed parish timeline endeavor.

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Alexander Barbour, currently finishing his sophomore year at Coyle and Cassidy High School in Taunton, had completed six of the seven stages needed to become an Eagle Scout, including earning 21 Merit Badges. The last on his list was a service project to benefit an organization other than the Boy Scouts.

Since Barbour was a life-long member of Annunciation of the Lord Parish and was active as an altar server, it was a natural fit that he prepare a project to benefit one of the places he loves most — his parish and its members.

It was decided that Barbour would create a parish timeline. “At first it was going to be relatively small in the church hall, but there were so many people who had pictures and stories to share about the parish’s long history that it grew to become four four-foot-by-six-foot shadow boxes,” he said. 

Located in Taunton’s Weir Village, Annunciation of the Lord Parish formed in 2000 after the former Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Lourdes churches merged, thereby adding to and continuing the lengthy histories of both parishes.

“He loves his parish and is a faithful kid,” said pastor Father Thomas Costa. “He took on a huge task with faith, prayer and love. Family is a part of parish life and families wanted to share what they had. It’s important to remember our history.”

One of those who became active in the Scout’s project was the parish “historian” Phil Cronan, who has been there for more than 70 years. “I go back a long time here,” Cronan told The Anchor. “My grandads were married here, and through the years I’ve talked with many priests about the rich history here. I was ecstatic that Alex chose this as a project.

“He came to me for some assistance and I told him, ‘You’ve come to the right person.’ The project was originally slated to be smaller in nature, but the more Alex got into it, the larger it became. He became instilled with a great interest once the project started to take legs.”

Not only did Cronan supply many of the photos, but more importantly, he explained what they were in the context of the parish history. It would have been one thing to have montages of photos of the Annunciation of the Lord history, but it comes to life when those photos tell not only the story in the picture, but the stories behind the pictures.

And the more Barbour worked on the project, the more help he got from the parish community, receiving photographs from Father Costa, Our Lady of Lourdes School, Cronan, and parish families who were proud to share their piece of the history of the parish.

When he began more than six months ago, Barbour didn’t envision the finished project quite the way it ended up. What began as a small, but exciting road to the rank of Eagle Scout, ended up as a very impressive and informative entire wall in the church hall.

After months of collecting photos, interviewing people, building the shadow boxes and arranging the chronological timeline, the final step towards Barbour’s quest for the rank of Eagle Scout culminated with a reveal of “The History of the Parish,” at a New England Ham and Bean Buffet in the church hall, that also doubled as a surprise birthday party for its resident historian, Cronan.

“Alex wanted to make the project so people could see it,” added Father Costa. “Everybody has loved it and was impressed by the work he put into this. It came out really well, and it is so encouraging that it was a collaborative effort from many parishioners. It helped to bring people together.”

The timeline won’t remain etched in stone though. Plans are to rotate different photos in the shadow boxes to enhance the historical aspect and keep it fresh and relative to more parishioners. Also the parish is looking forward to a significant anniversary, and the timeline is just the catalyst to propel the momentum. “God-willing, we will be celebrating our 150th anniversary,” Father Costa said. 

“I couldn’t be more proud of my son,” said Barbour’s dad, Pierre Barbour, who became a Scout Master when Alex joined a decade ago. “Scouting helps young people by setting good examples and and also having his mom, Brenda, and me behind him. When he first started Scouting he was a shy little kid. Scouting helps bring kids out of that shyness by providing a comfortable environment where they are encouraged and taught how to do things right and treat people right.”

The young Barbour told The Anchor that it was his mom who encouraged him to give Scouting a look. “When I was at Our Lady of Lourdes School my mom said I should try it,” he said.

“I knew Scouting instills good values and that was important to Pierre and me as parents,” Brenda told The Anchor. “Good values are taught at home but Scouting reenforces them. Once he started he truly enjoyed it.”

Barbour attained the rank of Eagle Scout on April 23.

Looking back at his labor of love, Barbour told The Anchor, “It’s a great accomplishment for me to have come this far. This was a project with a great time requirement. I feel a lot of pressure is now taken off.”

But with 10 years of Scouting on his resume, Barbour isn’t one who will just sit back and relax now. He aspires to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and hopes to become a mechanical engineer for the U.S. Marine Corps.

The way Alex Barbour has taken flight time and time again during his 10 years of Scouting, he has gained an eagle’s eye perspective of hard work, determination, and respect, so it should come as no surprise if he achieves the latest goals he has set for himself.


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