Girl Scout Leaders Travel to Rome for Audience with Pope Francis, Attend the International Catholic Conference on Guiding World Council

Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Anna Maria Chávez and National President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan Reaffirm Organization's Commitment to Faith Development for All Girls

June 25, 2015

Girl Scouts of the USA Press Room
(212) 852-8525

New York, N.Y. — Girl Scout leaders Anna Maria Chávez and Kathy Hopinkah Hannan arrived today into Rome for an audience with Pope Francis and to attend the International Catholic Conference on Guiding (ICCG) World Council, reaffirming and strengthening the organization's 100-year-old relationship with the Catholic Church. Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) and the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM) are two of the U.S. organizations attending the World Council alongside representatives from organizations from 42 countries.

Girl Scouts' presence at the benchmark ICCG World Council reflects its renewed commitment to faith development for all girls, and is a testament to the faith component fundamental to Girl Scouting (known internationally as Girl Guiding). Faith has been a core value of Girl Scouts since its inception 103 years ago, and GSUSA continues to raise awareness of the value of faith for every girl and family.

The ICCG is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the city of its founding, Rome, June 25–29, with a gathering of over 200 representatives of Member Organizations from around the world that have a focus on Catholic Girl Scouting. There they will discuss current issues, review Catholic Girl Scouting history, take a look ahead, and host celebrations of faith with special guests and performances.

Pope Francis will speak at the event to encourage and recognize the leaders from around the world who are dedicated to helping girls explore their faith through Girl Scouting. Currently there are 2.8 million Girl Scouts who are volunteering to help better their communities through projects and activities related to environmental stewardship, healthy living, and advocacy—all values expressed in the Girl Scout Promise and Law and thoughtfully aligned with the tenets of the Catholic faith.

"Faith is at the heart of Girl Scouts, and is woven into everything the organization does to inspire girls to take action to make the world a better place," says Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of GSUSA. "To have the opportunity to make this journey to the center of Catholicism and have an audience with Pope Francis is an honor I share with my colleagues across the Girl Scout movement. We are delighted to be able to work with such wonderful organizations in the U.S. as the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry to help girls across the country explore and deepen their faith."

"At Girl Scouts, faith unifies us and inspires us to take care of each other and the world around us," says GSUSA National President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan. "Our visit to Rome to engage with ICCG and Pope Francis exemplifies Girl Scouts' inclusive culture that embraces all faiths and cultures, and reflects our commitment to encouraging girls to enter their own faith journey to find inspiration and meaning."

"Working together with Girl Scouts is a wonderful way to open the door to girls across the country and invite them to enter their own faith journey," says Kathy Carver, associate director at NFCYM. "We want all Girl Scouts to know that there is a place for them to be a Catholic Girl Scout, and a warm, supportive network to help them more fully engage with their faith and earn religious recognitions. We invite Catholic girls and women to take action through community engagement and volunteerism. We always receive more bountiful blessings when we give to others."

Girl Scouts has had a long relationship with the Catholic Church. In 2014, Girl Scouts of the USA and the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry commemorated the 100th anniversary of the relationship at a Mass held at the Cathedral of the Madeline in Salt Lake City, Utah, during Girl Scouts' National Council Session/53rd Convention. In the U.S. today, GSUSA and NFCYM work collaboratively to engage and guide girls on their journey into the Catholic faith.

Other notable dates in the history of Girl Scouts and faith include:

1912 – Girl Scout membership is open to girls of all faiths.
1924 – Catholic girls from Girl Scouts of Greater New York Council send the Pope a spiritual bouquet and ten thousand lire.
1926 – Pope Pious XI gives the Catholic girls in the Girl Scouts of Greater New York Council an apostolic blessing.
1935 – Report of Girl Scouting in the Archdiocese of New York indicates rapidly growing interest in the Girl Scout program on the part of Catholics.
1956 – The first known interfaith services are held for Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish Girl Scouts.
1960 – Girl Scout representatives have an audience with Pope John XXIII.
1960–2015: GSUSA grows relationships with many faith organizations and today nearly 30 faiths have Girl Scout troops and a faith recognitions program.
1964 - Pope Paul VI sends Girl Scouts and their leaders an apostolic blessing.

Since 1912, Girl Scouts has partnered with faith organizations to take action and address issues of concern in their communities. Many girls implement their Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award projects in partnership with their local churches, parishes, temples, mosques, and other places of worship.

The Girl Scouts' mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. We deliver on this mission through the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, which, with its "Discover. Connect. Take Action." framework, provides a way for girls to take leadership roles in transforming their actions into outcomes. And at the heart of Girl Scouting is the Girl Scout Promise and Law, which includes an oath and promise to serve God.

Girl Scouts are invited to participate in the social media dialogue surrounding the visit using the @AnnaMariaChavez and @GirlScouts handles.

We're Girl Scouts of the USA
We're 2.8 million strong—2 million girls and 800,000 adults who believe girls can change the world. It began over 100 years ago with one woman, Girl Scouts' founder Juliette Gordon "Daisy" Low, who believed in the power of every girl. She organized the first Girl Scout troop on March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Georgia, and every year since, we've made her vision a reality, helping girls discover their strengths, passions, and talents. Today we continue the Girl Scout mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. We're the preeminent leadership development organization for girls. And with programs for girls from coast to coast and across the globe, Girl Scouts offers every girl a chance to do something amazing. To volunteer, reconnect, donate, or join, visit

About the International Catholic Conference on Guiding
The ICCG ( was established by 20 organizations belonging to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. ICCG brings together the national Catholic guides associations, national inter-denominational guiding organizations with a Catholic majority, and national groups of Catholic guides. Its purpose is to help the member organizations to transform guiding into a real instrument for education in the faith, and to publicize its educational value, activities, and experience with interdenominational/interfaith cooperation.

About the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, Inc.
The National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, Inc. ( is a broad internationally recognized leadership alliance for Catholic youth ministry. Its mission is "To serve those who serve the young Catholic Church." With the national office located in Washington D.C., the NFCYM 's membership is comprised of one hundred and seventy-nine Catholic dioceses in the U.S. including U.S. military bases throughout Europe, the National Catholic Committee on Girl Scouts and Camp Fire, and seventy-three youth-serving organizations known as Collaborating Members.