The Ad Altare Dei program is the first religious emblem available for a Boy Scout. The program is divided into sections generally related to the seven sacraments and the relationship of everyday life and scouting to the sacraments.
The program is a discussion based program and the emblem can only be earned after attending a number of discussion sessions conducted by the counselor usually meeting weekly or bi-weekly over a period of six to nine months. The program has as its objective to deepen the youth's faith life. Depending on the individual circumstances, these objectives may be completed over a period of six to nine months to several years.
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston sponsors a Catholic Scout Retreat on the first weekend of October at Camp Strake near Conroe. In order to complete the work on the Ad Altare Dei Program, a scout must attend this specific retreat. No other retreat may be substituted, in that attendance at the Catholic Scout Retreat is a precise requirement. Every effort should be made to avoid conflicting schedules relating to retreat attendance because the mandatory nature of this requirement.
At the conclusion of the work as specified in the Ad Altare Dei book and discussions, the Catholic Scout desiring to receive the Ad Altare Religious emblem must attend a Board of Review sponsored by the Archdiocese. The Board of Review is customarily held at St. Mary's Seminary on Memorial Drive near Chimney Rock and concludes after noon on Saturday. Each scout should as an individual, patrol or troop bring appropriate adult leadership. BSA requirements must be observed, two-deep leadership is required. Scouts will be expected to bring or arrange for necessary leadership. Neither the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, the ACCS, nor the Boy Scouts of America can assume responsibility for individual youth, and unsupervised youth will not be permitted to attend. In addition, scouts must bring the current parental consent to treat, and medical forms to the Board of Review. These forms are required at all Boy Scout activites, and are usually maintained by an adult leader of the Scout's troop.
The Board of Review will usually begin with a brief talk setting the theme for the event, and then a mass and/or presentation will be held in the seminary chapel.
Afterwards, the Boards of Review will begin. Scouts will be directed to several qualified counselors who will conduct the board. There are no tests or necessity to remember any data or biblical passages. The key element that the adult examiners on the board of review will be examining is whether the youth has experienced a deepening faith life and a better knowledge of Our Lord Jesus Christ as a result of working on the program. After participating in the board of review, the scout will be directed to meet with the ACCS chaplain (or other designated individual) who will review the scouts written work, note book, or exhibits if any. A determination as to whether the scout has met the requirements for the Ad Altare Dei religious emblem will ultimately rest with the chaplain of the ACCS.
Who can work for this emblem: The following criteria must be met before work is started:
The interested Scout...
- Is a currently registered Boy Scout.
- Has completed sixth grade of school before beginning the program.
- Is an active practicing Catholic having received the sacraments which are appropriate for his age.
- Has obtained the necessary consents from the parents/guardians, pastor, and unit leader.
Here are the specific steps to begin work on the Ad Altare Dei Program.
- Purchase an Ad Altare Dei study book from the council Scout Shop.
- The location of the nearest scout shop or scout service center is available in the phone book. Look under Boy Scouts of America.
- Be sure you purchase the latest edition and do not attempt to use books from friends or fellow scouts. Each book is a workbook and should kept and preserved by each scout for reference for years to come
- Locate a trained religious emblems counselor.
- A ACCS officer may direct you to a qualified counselor with an active group.
- Many Troops have qualified counselors.
- Pastors often have the names of qualified counselors. It is important however, to note that a boy may not work on this program with a scout leader, parent or clergyman but only with a trained Catholic Scouting religious emblems counselor. In addition, the program is discussion related and must be conducted in a group environment. The size of a group is usually never fewer than three boy scouts or can be as many as eight.
- Obtain the proper approval from parish pastor, scout leader, and parents/guardians by completing the forms in the book where appropriate.
- After a counselor has been located contact the counselor to determine the ground rules for the program.
- Most counselors have at least one preliminary meeting with the interested boy scouts and parents or guardians before starting the program. At these meetings be prepared to ask any questions and most importantly understand the commitments as may be explained to you.
- The program will start seven to nine months before the date of anticipated completion in December and will be completed before the Lock-In/Board of Review in January. Certain Circumstances relating to specific scouts may require a longer time to complete the program.
The following Steps are a Summary to the entire AAD program from beginning to end:
- Purchase the Ad Altare Dei book and read over the introduction and some of the questions and seriously ask yourself whether you are ready for the program and can actively participate in the program as a part of your overall schedule and commitments.
- Locate a trained Catholic religious emblem counselor and meet with the counselor and with your parents or guardians to understand the ground rules and to see if the program is for you.
- Begin working on the program. Do not miss any discussion sessions. Each session is like a piece of a larger puzzle. Missing a session will make the entire process harder and may cause unnecessary confusion.
- Complete all required written exercises and materials, and participate in group activites. The group element is vital in AAD.
- Attend the Catholic Scout Retreat, the first weekend in October, your emblems counselor should have the details and registration information. Scouts should wear Class A uniforms and should bring Class B uniforms for activities and events.
- When the program has been completed or at such time as directed by your religious emblem counselor, review your AAD book make sure it is totally complete. Books must be neat and answers must be thoughtful expressions. One or two word answers are never appropriate unless the question specifically calls for such an answer. Great care in completing the book in a careful manner will avoid needless embarrassment or disappointment.
- Attend the Lock-In/Board of Review at the seminary. Customarily it begins the second Friday of January. Scouts should refer to the description of the event as set out above and should wear full class A uniforms and bring a class B uniform for activities such as basketball.
- If the Lock-In/Board of Review is successfully completed, then attend the Diocesan Scout Sunday celebration at a church and time to be announced. The principal celebrant will be a Bishop of the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese, who will personally award the emblems. Pictures of scouts and families are made and presented to each scout, so each scout should wear class A uniforms and all parents and guardians should attend in appropriate attire.
For Additional information on this emblem and other religious emblems, please read the ACCS Galveston-Houston Religious Emblems Guidelines and also the Q & A section of this web site.