Boy Scouts honor Bishop Weitzel with Distinguished Citizen Award
Last Friday night was a double celebration for Vaopunimatagi John Quinn Weitzel, Bishop of the Diocese of Samoa Pago Pago, who received the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award on his 85th birthday. The ceremony took place at the Tradewinds Hotel poolside.
Prior to announcing the award, the Boy Scouts played a video of the life of Bishop Weitzel, along with messages from his sisters off island, which surprised the Bishop.
“The life of the honoree provides a model for our youth and serves to inspire the acceptance of responsibility, instilling leadership, and foster care for values and principals emphasized in the scouting program,” was the essence of the keynote address delivered by House Representative Larry Sanitoa, an official with the Boy Scouts.
Among the guests who attended were the Catholic family of priests, Lt. Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga and his wife, Pohakalani Mauga, First Lady Cynthia Moliga and old Boy Scouts members.
Explaining why the Boy Scouts are involved with a citizenship award Rep. Sanitoa said, “The Boy Scouts has provided citizenship training for over a century – and Scouting has, through all these years, provided our young people with character development programs, which exist to develop ethical behavior, self-reliance, and concern and care for others.”
This is the second Distinguished Citizen Award presented by the Boy Scouts since its establishment in American Samoa in 1938. The award recognizes noteworthy and exceptional leadership of citizens in communities throughout the United States of America.
In his keynote speech, Rep. Sanitoa gave a synopsis of Bishop Weitzel’s noteworthy achievements, including his work with the Boy Scouts of American Samoa.
Sanitoa noted that His Excellency is the first bishop-elect for the Samoa-Pago Pago Diocese, “after the Diocese was constituted by the Apostolic See on September 10th 1982 as Suffragan of the Metropolitan See of Samoa – Apia and Tokelau.”
“He is of the Maryknoll Society of Foreign Missions; at the time before his appointment, he was the Parish Priest of Falealupo and Vicar in the island of Savai’i and he was recognized for his good qualities and talents, consciousness of the care and the untiring zeal displayed in the apostolate, an example of which he gave in administering his Parish of Falealupo,” Sanitoa noted.
Bishop Weitzel, was born in River Forest, Illinois on May 10, 1928, he’s one of four children born to Carl & Patricia Quinn Weitzel – 3 boys and a girl and he was ordained Priest on June 11, 1955, at the age of 27, for the then 44-year old Catholic Foreign Mission Society in America, popularly known as the Maryknoll Missionaries.
He holds a Masters Degree in Religious Education and a Degree in Business Administration from Harvard University.
“His motto in everything he does is to – ‘Do everything with Love’, or as he always states it in Samoan ‘Faia mea Uma I le Alofa’.”
According to the Boy Scouts official and House rep:
Since Bishop Weitzel’s consecration in 1986, the Catholic population has grown from 8,000 to 16,000 members as of 2010 and that is about 21% of the total population in the territory — with 21 ordained priests and 31 deacons serving 18 catholic parishes in the territory.
He’s the President of the Board of Consulters for the Diocesan Pastoral Council; the Development Council, Board of Trustees for the Corporation; Catholic Education Board; Hope House Board; Diocesan Finance Board; the Land Board; and the Catholic Social Services Board.
He is also the Spiritual Chaplain for the Hope House, Montessori School and the Eucharistic League and presiding Judge of the Matrimonial Court for the Diocese of Samoa - Pago Pago.
In addition, he is a member of the Conference of CEPAC Bishops, and has received outstanding achievements and was recognized in the 2010 Edition of Who's Who in America.
In helping develop the youth of the Diocese of Samoa Pago Pago, Bishop Weitzel was instrumental in establishing and continues to be a strong supporter of the Fatuoaiga Youth Band – whom he believes and always claims to be the Number One Band in the Territory.
“The Pope John Paul Youth Center in Malaeloa was established as a fulfillment of one of his many dreams to have a place for the youth for sports and various activities. The center was built after the Tsunami in 2009 and has since become the new grounds for St. Theresa Elementary School when the school’s original facility was damaged by the Tsunami.”
Sanitoa said, “These are just some of the major projects that he personally sought financial assistance to make a reality. Significantly, and attributed to his love for the young people of the Diocese, he is a very proud advocate and supporter of the many young boys and girls who are today in the Boy and Girl Scouts of the Diocese of Samoa Pago Pago.”
In presenting the award Sanitoa quoted the New Testament – First Epistle of St. Peter, Chapter 4, verse 10:
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.
“Tonight (Friday), we salute a true pillar of strength in the Diocese of Samoa Pago Pago — our good steward and honoree for his distinguished and honorable career as a public servant and church leader,” concluded Sanitoa.
The Bishop thanked the Boy Scouts for the award and noted that he too was a Boy Scout and they held meetings in a basement of a Church.
“I can’t thank you enough for all the Scouts have done and continue to do,” he said. The Bishop also urged girls to join the Girl Scouts noting these scouting programs are good and educational for boys and girls.