Brooklyn Teen From St. Athanasius Credits Scouting For His Baptism As a Catholic

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A Brooklyn Boy Scout has earned his merit badge in faith.

Jake Harmon, 16, said the scouts have not only taught him how to tie ropes and build a fire, they’ve helped him learn about the Catholic faith.

It’s the reason he is now a baptized Catholic today.

The young teen grew up in a mixed-faith household. His parents let him decide what religion he wanted to pursue.

After finishing the Catholic award, Harmon decided to pursue the faith.

The young teen took religious education courses at his home parish of St. Athanasius in Bensonhurst.

“At the end of it I realized I wanted to be Catholic for the rest of my life,” said Harmon.

Currents News Katie Vasquez caught up with Harmon in Narrowsburg, up in the Catskill Mountains, where the new Catholic was attending the yearly pilgrimage to Ten Mile River Scout Camp.

Up in the Catskill Mountains, three hours from Brooklyn, a group of Boy Scouts celebrated their faith.

Every year, they make the trek up to Ten Mile River scout camp, connecting with nature and God as Bishop Robert Brennan celebrated a special mass.

But this year for scout, Jake Harmon, the mass felt different. He was baptized during the Easter vigil last April.

“My mom is Catholic and my dad is Jewish,” said Harmon, “they didn’t want to push religion on us because they wanted us to choose because they both had different opinions.”

The 16-year-old said scouting helped him first learn about Catholicism.

“The big part about scouting and the sash I wear is giving back not only  to the camps and the community and that kind of reflects a lot with the catholic faith and helping everyone around you,” said Harmon.

But the big pull to decide his beliefs came after he asked his Troop 99 leader, Brian Long, about a special award for the Catholic faith.

“He asked me if he could take the Catholic religion award, I told him yea. But he says I’m half Jewish, half Catholic. I says well you can go for the Catholic award and the

Jewish award then you can make the decision on which faith you want,” said Long.

After finishing the Catholic award, Jake decided to pursue the faith. He took religious education courses at his home parish of St. Athanasius in Bensonhurst.

“At the end of it I realized I wanted to be catholic for the rest of my life,” said Harmon.

His interest in Catholicism even spread to his family, first reaching his brother, who is also a scout.

Then they convinced their sister.
“We came to her and said we want to do this, is this something you want to do? she saw that we found ourselves in it and that she wanted to join us,” said Harmon.

Bishop Brennan said stories like Jake’s highlight all the good scouting can do.

“It shows you some of the contributions that this experience of scouting can do, because one of the things that happens here is that a young person discovers more about themselves and who they are and faith life being part of that and he really discovered his catholic faith being here,” said Brennan.

Now Jake is wearing his faith like a badge of honor. He is currently pursuing the second part of the Catholic religion award which involves reflecting on this time, from baptism to his new life as a Catholic.