A Story of Catholic Guiding


Baden Powell Belgian Girl Guides in 1920, with Father Melchior and the dean of Namur.

Catholics and their clergy have been interested in guiding from the very beginning

The English cardinal Francis Bourne is particularly interested in scouting and guiding as a framework in which youths of all religions and confessions mix together. Baden-Powell has consulted this since the release of the redaction Scouting for boys. He was a religious Catholic advisor in the Boy Scout Advisory Council from April 1910. He came into contact with guiding and for the first time blessed the flag of Catholic guides in 1918. « I have always granted a lot of importance to the fact that Catholics take part in all the Empire’s movements without putting their Catholic principals in danger”, he said on that occasion. He prefaced the first manual of English Catholic guiding in 1921.

After England, Catholic guiding appeared in other parts of the British Empire, such as in India (before 1914), Canada (1910), Ireland (1911) and Malta (1918). In the US, Juliette Low the founder of Girl Scouts in 1912, took over Baden-Powell’s consultation policy of the Catholic clergy which related to the guide movement. From 1914, some troops from Girl Scouts became established within the Baltimore archdiocese, six years later the American Catholic hierarchy as a whole supported guiding.

Prior to 1920, Catholic girls joined the guide movement, mainly in multidenominational associations (sometimes braving the banning by the local clergy), but more rarely in groups or strictly Catholic associations.  They were found in Switzerland,  Poland, the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Czech Slovakia, Brazil, Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium, etc.
In 1919, the guiding headquarters of which Lady Baden Powell was the president, adopted the initiative of asking the Catholic Women’s League to sign up as an association related to the guide movement in order to make guiding more widely popular among Catholics. The association allowed Catholics involved to meet up and prepare themselves on a national and international scale. In 1924, she also organised the first chieftain Catholic conference in England and also attended the first international guide conferences of 1920 and 1926.

To be followed by : « Catholic guiding issues from 1925-1940 »

To find out more, read the book which will come out in June 2015 to mark the occasion of 50 years of ICCG. 

Order your book HERE!