Scouts and Leaders from Unit 305 in Kearny participated in the first Pastoral Visit by Joseph William Cardinal Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark, to the Church of St. Stephen on September 7, 2017. Cardinal Tobin celebrated Mass along with the Very Reverend Joseph Mancini, K.C.H.S., V.F., Pastor, Fr. Jason J. Makarow, Parochial Vicar, and other priests and deacons representing all parishes of West Hudson Deanery 14.
Boy Scouts distributed programs for the Mass and directed attendees afterwards to Hedges Hall for refreshments and an address by Cardinal Tobin. Parishioners and visitors in the West Hudson Deanery were encouraged to pose questions to His Eminence as part of an on-going dialogue throughout all twenty-six deaneries within the Archdiocese of Newark.
Anthony Hayes, Senior Patrol Leader for Unit 305, thanked Cardinal Tobin for attending and for acknowledging the Boy Scouts in his remarks. Mr. Hayes then presented Cardinal Tobin with a patch representing Unit 305 and a purple neckerchief embroidered with the Four Chaplains as a symbol of the courage, heroism, and sacrifice exemplified by Fr. Washington, Rabbi Goode, Rev. Poling, and Rev. Fox when they removed their own life jackets and gave them to soldiers on the sinking U.S.A.T. Dorchester on February 3, 1943. Mr. Hayes further referenced the statue dedicated to the Four Chaplains on the lawn of St. Stephen's Church inside of which is the Archdiocesan Sanctuary of the Four Chaplains.
On June 22, 2017, twenty-seven members of the inaugural class of the Father John P. Washington Society were inducted by the Very Reverend Joseph Mancini, K.C.H.S., V.F., Pastor of St. Stephen's Church and sponsor of Scouts – Unit 305. The Society was organized by Fr. Joe following the designation of the Church of Saint Stephen as the Archdiocesan Sanctuary of the Four Chaplains. This society will serve not only the parish but also the entire community and beyond. Its simple yet meaningful goal is to preserve the memory of the Four Chaplains of the U.S.A.T. Dorchester and to honor their sacrifice, bravery, and unconditional love for God and their fellow human beings.
The induction ceremony began at the foot of the altar in St. Stephen's Church where the members were reminded of the need for sacrifice. Following a solemn procession to the 9/11 cross, Fr. Joe reminded the members of the need for bravery as was best demonstrated by the heroes of 9/11. After the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, the group moved ceremonially to the Father Washington monument for reflection and for a rededication to unconditional love for fellow human beings. The symbolic journey concluded at the Sanctuary of the Four Chaplains where after affirming to live lives of sacrifice, bravery, and unconditional love, each was presented with the symbol of the Society – the gold "challenge coin".
Membership in the Father John P. Washington Society is open to any person who wishes to dedicate themselves to the ideals of the Society by completing an application and passing on the story of the Four Chaplains to another.