Girl Scout Troop 810, from left to right, front row: Megan Madalinski, Sarina Obeid, Angie Gutierrez, Mariana Gutierrez; middle row: Nina Eng, Elizabeth Surovic, Megan Obeid, Anna Wiessing; back row: Mary Ellen Madalinski and Tina Gutierrez.

Print this story

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter


[+] Enlarge Image

Troop 810 works on their Divine Mercy project last summer.

[+] Enlarge Image

Troop 810 holds a regional Divine Mercy workshop in October that draws more than 30 scouts who all earned the Divine Mercy Award.

From its very beginnings nearly 100 years ago, the motivating force in Girl Scouting has been a spiritual one. Girl Scouts promise to serve God and country and "to help people at all times."

With that in mind, it was probably only a matter of time before Girl Scouts discovered the message of Divine Mercy as revealed to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska in the 1930s, a call for spiritual renewal through trust in God and love of neighbor.

This autumn, a Girl Scout troop in Texas pinned and sewed the portraiture of Jesus, The Divine Mercy, on their sashes and vests, earning scouting's first-ever Divine Mercy Award. Alongside other awards, which give recognition for proficiency in such areas as health, sports, technology, and the environment, the Divine Mercy Award distinguishes Troop 810 in San Antonio as young women who vow to continue St. Faustina's mission of spreading Divine Mercy.

"Learning about St. Faustina has inspired me to now pray the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy each night and pray for the whole world's sins rather than just my own or my immediate family's," says Nina Eng, a ninth grader. "It has helped me become more thoughtful for the world."

They Wrote the Book on It
Members of Troop 810 not only completed the requirements for the award, they also wrote the book on it — literally. Through the Archdiocese of San Antonio and with assistance from many others and after four months of serious dedication and personal and spiritual growth, Troop 810 has put together a 44-page Divine Mercy Award book. The book serves as both a workbook for scouts seeking to earn the award and a primer for the Divine Mercy message and devotion. It includes requirements for the award; suggestions for living the message of Divine Mercy; instructions for praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy; art projects; and many other interesting topics pertaining to The Divine Mercy.

"We hope we can reach so many more Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and inspire them to give greater glory of God and help St. Faustina spread the message and devotion of The Divine Mercy," says Troop 810 Leader Mary Ellen Madalinski.

How did this award come about? Last spring, Troop 810 began brainstorming for a project to earn the Silver Award, the highest award earned by Girl Scouts in the 11- to 14-year-old level. The Silver Award represents a girl's commitment to herself and her community and focuses on leadership, career exploration, personal challenges, and completing a project that will benefit her community.

The girls of Troop 810 were soon approached by Laura Surovic, chairman of the Catholic Committee on Girl Scouting of the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Laura asked if the troop would be interested in putting together a new Catholic religious recognition award.

"San Antonio is a city deeply rooted in the Catholic faith and our Catholic leaders are very supportive of our Girl Scout programs," said Mary Ellen. "Through the years, even when I was a Girl Scout, we had a number of archdiocesan awards for Girl Scouts. For instance, we had the St. Agnes Award and the Salve Regina Award, but it had been many years since we had had a new one."

Trusting, in a Tough Moment
For Mary Ellen, Divine Mercy seemed a perfect fit. She says it was the message of Divine Mercy that helped her through the most trying experiences of her life. It was 14 years ago. Her daughter Megan was two-and-a half months old and had to undergo open-heart surgery. Without the surgery Megan was not expected to live.

"Two days before the surgery, we prepared to have her baptized in the hospital, and so I had to leave the hospital and shop for a baptismal gown," says Mary Ellen. "Coming back from the store, my car broke down. I had to call my cousin to come and pick me up. She took me to her house for a little bit, and that's where she started to talk to me about the Divine Mercy devotion.

"She gave me my first prayercard with the Image of The Divine Mercy on it," says Mary Ellen. "Just seeing the words 'Jesus, I trust in You' really helped me get through the next several days. It was all very, very emotional and stressful. My husband, Walter, and I had three little boys to take care of and then Megan, who was very sick. There was a lot going on in a short period of time. But just having that prayercard — not knowing how to pray the chaplet or anything — just looking at that image, gave me peace knowing that God was going to help me through this."

And He did get her through it. The surgery was a success.

'With Me for Life'
Megan, one of eight members of Troop 810, says she, like the other troop members, have been moved by her mother's story and moved to be more like St. Faustina — to be more loving not just to Jesus "but also to family and friends and those in need." The troop now prays the Chaplet together.

"Girl Scouts help people, just like St. Faustina helped people," says Megan. "I will take the Divine Mercy message with me for life."

"Saint Faustina has inspired all of us," says Angie Gutierrez, another troop member.

"This project inspired me," says troop member Mariana Guiterrez. "It helped me come closer to God. The other thing is that St. Faustina came from such a poor family and she became successful in her life, inspiring so many people around the world."

"What moved me most," says Elizabeth Surovic, another troop member, "was how St. Faustina was able to write so much in her Diary and how faithful she was to Jesus."

The many requirements for the Divine Mercy Award include writing about the history of the Divine Mercy message and devotion and St. Faustina; handing out Divine Mercy prayercards to people undergoing difficult times; completing a Divine Mercy crossword puzzle and other games; and praying the Novena to The Divine Mercy.

The booklet, which is published by the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas and the Archdiocese of San Antonio, includes a page written by St. Faustina's religious order, the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. In a special message to the scouts, the sisters offer 10 suggestions for living the message of mercy. One suggestion is, "Perform a kind deed toward somebody you dislike and have difficulty with."

Addressing the scouts, the sisters wrote, "The love of Jesus for you is so great and absolutely faithful. May Jesus' love fill your heart so that all that you are and do and say may shine beautifully with the very radiance of Jesus' mercy. We embrace you in our prayers."

Divine Inspiration?
Mary Ellen says the project seemed inspired by Divine Providence. How else to explain the many people who helped it come to fruition?

She contacted the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, official promoters of the Divine Mercy message and devotion since 1941. The first person Mary Ellen spoke with was Mimi Romaniak, who works at the Marian Helpers Center in Stockbridge, Mass. Mimi arranged to have copies of the book, Divine Mercy Message and Devotion (Marian Press), donated to the scouts to use as a study guide for the project. Mimi was so excited about what Troop 810 was doing, she told Mary Flannery, a graphic designer for the Marians, who enthusiastically volunteered her services to help design the Divine Mercy medal and patch that the scouts receive upon completion of the award requirements. Mary also helped format the booklet. Moreover, her father, a cartoonist, donated illustrations of St. Faustina for the booklet.

Joan Maroney, of Mother of Mercy Messengers (MOMM), an apostolate of the Marians, also brought encouragement to the project. "She was very motivating and gave us a real sense of purpose from the very start," says Mary Ellen.

The Girl Scout Council paid for all the paper and ink to print the booklet. Anonymous donors paid for the initial order of The Divine Mercy patches and medals. Many others along the way also helped, including Claire Jordan Mohan, author of the book Young Life of St. Maria Faustina.

Following Troop 810's completion of the award requirements, their Girl Scout Council requested that Troop 810 host a Divine Mercy workshop for other Girl Scouts in the council. More than 30 girls, from grades kindergarten through eight, and their mothers attended a four-hour workshop, which was held in October.

40 Girls and Growing?
Including Troop 810, more than 40 girls have now earned the Divine Mercy Award.

"Hopefully," says Mary Ellen, "this award is something that, through the years, more and more scouts will embrace so that more and more people will be able to learn more about St. Faustina and the revelations she received from Jesus."

Founded in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low, Girl Scouts' membership has grown to 3.7 million members. Mary Ellen points out that the Girl Scout Promise includes the words "On my honor I will serve God and my country."

"God comes first," says Mary Ellen.

How fitting it is then that Girl Scouts embrace Divine Mercy, a message that helps us put God first in our lives.

The Archdiocese of San Antonio and the Marians of the Immaculate Conception are making this book available for free to Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts around the world. We invite you to download the booklet.

Print this story

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter


Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

Disband the Girl Scouts - Apr 25, 2016

Sue Vermeulen - Sep 5, 2011

So glad to read about your award. I am planning a Day of Recollection for our Buffalo Diocean Catholic Committee on Scouting in Feb 2012 and would like to introduce this award to our BS and GS attending. This is exactley what we need for our youth and adults to think of others more and more every day. Looking for more information or any suggestions please

Editor - May 26, 2011

Congratulations on keeping this wonderful ministry alive.

Marilyn- Bay Village, Ohio - May 22, 2011

Just wanted to follow up that 7 scouts from troop #898 earned their Divine Mercy Award on January 39, 2011. Our Pastor presented the award at a Mass right after the homily and the girls' parents and the rest of the congregation gave them great support. It was a truly blessed morning.

Girl Scout Troop 810 - Oct 17, 2010

We want to thank all of you who have been so supportive of our Divine Mercy Award project!!! God has blessed us with many, many scouts earning our award. So far over 280 scouts have completed the requirements from all over the United States! Keep up the good work and learn all you can about St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy. We are living in very trying times. Your love of God and your desire to learn more about His mercy is so very pleasing to Him. Remember, Jesus wants you to share what you have learned about His love and mercy. You have taken the first step. God bless you all!!

Marilyn from Bay - Oct 16, 2010

I started teaching the Divine Mercy Award to my daughter's troop #898 last Tuesday. The 8 year old girls loved it and all moms signed on their support. God bless you, troop #810 and pray for our Girl Scouts in Northeast Ohio! Jesus, I trust in you!

RoodAwakening - Aug 20, 2010

Can this award be earned by participants of other youth/scouting organizations, like Franciscan Youth, American Heritage Girls, etc.? Thanks!

Charles - Sep 6, 2009

This is a magnificent work, and you Scouts and Scout leaders should be commended. You certainly have been blessed. Please consider inserting details as to the requirements for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Ventureres and Explorers. If I were to work on this award with both Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, what would the requirements be?

Loyal Servant T.O.C. - Jun 12, 2009

God bless you all for your great work! Starting at such a young age I can only imagine what wonderful work you will do as you mature in your faith. I am going to use your booklet with my religious ed classes and thank you for making it available.
God bless you

Barb Hyla - May 11, 2009

We are from Lancaster,NY. I've dedicated 2009 to learing more about the Divine Mercy and reading St. Faustina's Diary. A few months ago, I received a magazine from the Marion Helpers pertaining to this award. My daughter and her friend were very interested in working on this award. They have finished the Divine Mercy Award requirements. We are hopefuly going to have our Pastor present the Award pins and patches to the girls in the very near future. Thank you Troop 810 for creating this wonderful Award.

Vicki - Feb 18, 2009

This is a great opportunity. My hat goes off the Cadette Troop that created this. As a uint manager for Girl Scouts am going to share thier story with the 500 scouts and leaders I manage in PA. They are a true inspiration to all girls - catholic or not. Yours in Girl Scouting

Colleen Hamilton-Baltimore, Maryland - Feb 17, 2009

Congratulations girls and Thank You!!!
I was thrilled to read about your discovery of the Divine Mercy in the Spring issue of the Marian Helper. I plan on forwarding the information to our G.S.Council, our Pastor and the Archdiocese of Baltimore. I am hoping to introduce this into our Community as soon as possible. Thank you again for your hard work and dedication to the Divine Mercy and to Girl Scouting. I am proud of you. God Bless you.

Aunt Stacy Jo - Nov 24, 2008

I am so proud of you! Troop 810 what an accomplishment. As a former 16 yr Girl Scout I praise you on your committment to earn your Silver Award and what an inspiring one you have earned. You didn't just earn it - but you also shared your experience which makes it even more special. Congrats again!

Kassey - Nov 16, 2008

Congratulations Troop 810! What an inspiration!

Sue - Nov 12, 2008

God Bless Troop 1810! As a former Girl Scout Leader, your story was truly an inspiration to read. I may just have to become active !!!

Carrie - Nov 12, 2008

Call it divine providence! I just signed up to be assistant leader for my daughter's Daisy troop. In fact I filled out the form today! I am a HUGE advocate of Divine Mercy. Where can I get more information on this badge?

Mary Flannery - Nov 12, 2008

If anyone would like information for another Girl Scout or Boy Scout troop who want to help spread devotion to The Divine Mercy, and have their own Divine Mercy Award, contact me at the Marian Helpers Center at

Maria Garcia - Nov 11, 2008

Congratulations, Troop 810 and Mary Ellen. GOD Bless you always!

Margie Willingham - Nov 10, 2008

Congratulations Mary Ellen and troop 810 on your project! The work you started here will no doubt be used by many other troops and have a positive impact on the girls' lives. Thank you.



Brenda - Nov 9, 2008

What a wonderful inspiration you all are to others, as a fellow Girl Scout of 30 years oand Lay coordinator of Girl Scouts in my Archdiocese I congratulate you.

Steph - Nov 9, 2008

May St. Faustina conitue to pray and intercede for these young ladies. It is a very beutiful thing you are doing. God Bless

Heather - Nov 8, 2008

This is so GREAT!!!!!

Joan Maroney - MOMM - Nov 7, 2008

We are delighted that this project has become a reality. Great job Troop 810 and all the supporters. MOMM looks forward to sharing the opportunity for earning the award with young people all across the country! We look forward to getting together with the girls when we make it back home. God bless you all.