THE RECENT elevation of 29 men to...


THE RECENT elevation of 29 men to the rank of cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church brought the expected comments from groups and individuals eager to tell about their previous associations with the new princes of the church.

For example, the Rev. Robert Leavitt, president-rector of St. Mary's Seminary and University, while in Rome for the ceremonies, noted that two of the new cardinals are alumni of the Roland Park seminary -- Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago and Cardinal Adam Maida of Detroit.

Now comes this news from the Baltimore Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America: Baltimore's Cardinal William H. Keeler is an Eagle Scout. According to this month's issue of the Area Scouter, the group's monthly publication, Cardinal Keeler became an Eagle Scout -- the highest rank available to Boy Scouts -- as a youth in Lebanon, Pa. He was a member of Troop 11 there.

Cardinal Keeler has a long-time involvement with scouting. While serving as bishop of the Harrisburg diocese, he served on that city's Boy Scout Council.

In March 1990, the Boy Scouts of America in its national meeting here presented Archbishop Keeler with the Distinguished Eagle

Award, a public service award.

To become an Eagle Scout these days a boy has to earn 21 merit badges and perform a service project. The service project, a relatively new requirement, probably wasn't required of the young William Keeler back in the 1940s, said Dick Behrens, director of development and communications for the Baltimore council.

Mr. Behrens, also editor of the Area Scouter, says it's always a front page story for his publication when a local Eagle Scout does well. "Only about 1 percent of the youths who are scouts" ever achieve the prestigious title of Eagle Scout, he noted. "That alone makes it a major achievement. Once an Eagle Scout, always an Eagle Scout . . . . We don't have former Eagle Scouts."

Might there be others in the College of Cardinals who've earned the 21 merit badges? Mr. Behrens says it's highly unlikely. "I would bet he [Cardinal Keeler] would be the only one," because so few boys ever obtain the rank, he said.

The October issue of the Area Scouter featured another local

Eagle Scout -- astronaut Tom Jones from Essex.

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