Troop 33 honors 11 Eagle Scouts

An Eagle Court of Honor celebrated the accomplishments of 11 young men recently at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church, in Land O’ Lakes.

Each of these members of Troop 33 received the rank of Eagle Scout: Evan Hernandez, Gabriel Vega, Michael Thibeau, Miguel Mockabee, Phillip Morrical, Spencer Huffman, John A. Turbessi, Cesar Arthur Castillo, Ethan Fuhrmeister, Louis Mooney Jr. and Matthew Gansemer.

The rank of Eagle Scout is the highest that a Scout can achieve in Boy Scouts of America.

These 11 Eagle Scouts were honored at the Eagle Scout Court of Honor, presented by Troop 33, at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Land O’ Lakes. On left, front to back: Louis Mooney Jr., Ethan Fuhrmeister, John A. Turbessi, Cesar Arthur Castillo, Phillip Morrical and Matthew Gansemer. On right, front to back: Michael Thibeau, Evan Hernandez, Miguel Mockabee, Spencer Huffman and Gabriel Vega. (Courtesy of Samantha Petzold/Boy Scout Troop 33)

A video message from Frank Tsuru, chairman of the National Eagle Scout Association, put their accomplishment into perspective: “Rare is there a time when 11 young men are awarded the Eagle award at one time, from a single troop,” Tsuru said.

Still, that accomplishment is just the beginning of what being an Eagle Scout means, Tsuru continued.

He said they will be tested in life.

“As a businessman, it’s easy to be swayed to cut corners, hide some things, or not be fully transparent, in order to get ahead in business. By maintaining the Scout Oath and the Scout Law as your guiding principles, you will maintain honor, truthfulness, and give all of the glory to God for your successes.

“At the end of the day, principle-centered businesses see more successes than business that does not embrace these core principles.

“I want to remind you that your job has just begun.”

Plus, Tsuru added: “I’m asking you to give back and make an impact on a younger scout.”

Families and friends gathered to mark the occasion, at a ceremony that was planned and conducted by Scouts in Troop 33.

It was a dignified event, which began with performances by Roses in the Sawgrass, a choral group that served as a prelude to the program.

Scout John Turbessi, who was among those receiving the rank of Eagle Scout, provided a trumpet call, and members of the Troop 33 Color Guard presented the colors.

There were numerous speakers, including the Hon. Judge Ralph C. Stoddard, who was there to represent Chief Judge Ron Ficarrotta of the 13th Judicial Court.

Judge Stoddard told the audience, “No one understands perhaps better than we do, the consequences of failed parenting, or the benefits of good parenting.

“Here, today, we’re here to celebrate you because of the wonderful things that you have done for these young men and for our community.”

He also read a letter sent by the chief judge: “In achieving the Eagle Scout status, you’ve demonstrated that you are worthy of honor, which we know that you share with your family and troop today.

“Because we understand that this was an arduous task and most worthy of celebration, we join you in commemoration of this achievement.”

Chris McBride, director of youth ministry at Our Lady of the Rosary, was the keynote speaker.

He reminded the Scouts being honored: “You’re not self-made guys. None of us are, here. Be sure to be grateful and to give back.

“Always check in with yourself and say, ‘How am I living? How is my life making a difference for others?’” he said.

Monsignor Ron Aubin, pastor of the church, said “Congratulations to all of our Eagle Scouts. You make Our Lady of the Rosary parish very proud this afternoon. I know your parents are proud. Your Scout leaders are proud. And, I am very particularly proud of each and every one of you.

“You have achieved a significant goal,” the pastor said.

He also told the audience about a book he read many years ago that helped him to realize that the happiest people are those who set goals.

“People without goals become listless. They experience discontent, maybe even depression. It is people who are setting reasonable goals and working toward those goals that find authentic joy in life,” the pastor said.

“I want to encourage you to set reasonable goals on a regular basis. Multiple goals. Goals that you might achieve in the next few months. Goals that might be in the next few years. And maybe even goals that are long-term.

“It’s with moving toward these goals, and striving toward them, that we grow,” he said.

The pastor also thanked the Scouts, noting several of their projects have enhanced the church grounds.

Bob Hall, Scoutmaster of Troop 33, thanked the 19 assistant scoutmasters, the parents and others for their support.

“I don’t want people to think of us as an Eagle factory. Our troop is not about producing Eagles. What we’re about is producing leaders, and putting good leaders into the community,” Hall said.

The Scoutmaster also reminded the young men being honored: “Even though we help you along the way, this is something that you did. Not something that we did for you.”

“The accomplishment is only reached by about 4% that try for Eagle.

“I’m proud of you guys. I’m proud of what you stand for,” Hall said.

He told the audience that the Scouts being honored have different ambitions, ranging from becoming professors, to pursuing environmental science, to becoming lawyers, scientists, computer hackers, a politician and even a sports car designer.

And, three of the Scouts are going to be assistant scoutmasters, Hall added.

“Getting Eagle, it’s in your heart. It’s not the badge that I put on your chest. It’s not the scarf that you’re going to be wearing around your neck. It’s not the certificate that’s signed by somebody famous. Eagle is something that you’re going to carry for the rest of your life.

“And, how you carry that torch is up to you,” Hall said.

In addition to the presentation of the Eagle awards, certificates also were presented from Judge Stoddard and Ben Strakos, of the Knights of Columbus.

Each of the new Eagle Scouts also offered a few comments. Some were funny, and some were touching — but all of them offered a sense of appreciation for the help they received along the way.

Afterwards, there was a reception for the Scouts and guests, followed by a special Mass.

Published December 11, 2019

Eagle Scout stats
Total merit badges: 290
Project hours (personal): 752
Project hours (total): 3,095
Donations (total) $47,519.9

Making a difference
Eagle Scout projects completed by members of Troop 33:

  • Ethan Fuhrmeister restored plantings and benches at the 9/11 Memorial Garden at Freedom High School. He was helped by community members, teachers, sports teams and sports clubs. He comes from a family in which his father, four cousins, two uncles and two great uncles are Eagle Scouts.
  • Evan Hernandez built a Butterfly Garden and Finch Aviary at the Florida Exotic Bird Sanctuary in Hudson. He is grateful to Patricia Norton for the opportunity to beautify the entrance of the sanctuary and provide a habitat for the 30 finches and attract local butterflies.
  • Phillip Morrical focused on creating multiple habitats and nesting boxes for the Florida scrub jay. He built six nesting boxes at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church, in Land O’ Lakes. He also provided education to the local community about the plight of the bird and sold nesting boxes to local residents who wanted to help save it.
  • John A. Turbessi, a first generation Venezuelan-American, designed his service project to help Venezuelan families in light of the ongoing humanitarian crisis there. He organized a food and supply drive, and with the help of the Our Lady of the Rosary parish community and others, he was able to send  boxes containing more than 1,500 pounds of food, first aid and personal supplies — helping 20 families and 89 people in the process.
  • Gabriel N. Vega enlisted the aid of others to help him construct a Rosary Garden at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church, and to purchase a large Virgin Mary statue centerpiece.
  • Spencer Huffman did a project that linked into Gabriel Vega’s Rosary Garden. The two scouts divided a major request by a parishioner, that included a wish list of a 200-foot pathway for the 14 Stations of the Cross in “The Way of the Cross Garden.” The two projects were combined to produce an area of worship.
  • Michael Thibeau responded to Monsignor Ron Aubin’s vision for the landscaping surrounding the church’s newly constructed youth center. The scout took the pastor’s vision and combined it with his father’s landscaping expertise to create a representation of the Garden of Gethsemane at the Mount of Olives.
  • Miguel Mockabee created additional space for the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Pasco at Our Lady of the Rosary church that had been needing space for dignity and privacy of its clients.
  • Louis Mooney Jr. created a GaGa Pit at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church to promote more outdoor recreation for children of the parish and its youth ministry.
  • Cesar A Castillo did a GaGa Pit project at an elementary school in Tampa.
  • Matthew Gansemer helped to refurbish the food pantry for St. Vincent de Paul.

Published December 18, 2019

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