Service of military family members, priests and popes shape new priest
Jun 15, 2015
The importance of living a life of faith, and of service to others, has always been part of the fabric of Deacon Alec Scott’s life. Those values, he said, were exemplified by his father and five siblings and their service in the military, by his mother’s steadfast faith, and by his parish priests. Growing up in a military family, he lived overseas and in several states, but he considers Washington home, and on June 20, he will be one of nine men ordained as new priests of the Archdiocese of Washington by Cardinal Wuerl.
Deacon Scott said his father, retired Major General Bruce Scott, served in the Army for 31 years and at home and at work demonstrated “the principles of the military… a lot of strong ideas like selfless service, honesty, loyalty and integrity… He showed them to us and expected us to live by (those values).” Deacon Scott said he and his siblings were inspired by their father’s “example and the way he lived, the way he exemplified this life of service and care.”
Alexander Bruce Scott was born in Frankfurt, Germany, but as a boy moved back to the United States with his family, as their father was stationed in Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, and then back to Virginia, where they were part of the Fort Belvoir Catholic Community for many years. The future priest said his mother, Mary Scott, was on the “front lines” of home life and active in their parish. “She impressed on us how important the faith was,” he said.
At the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, Alec Scott majored in history and philosophy and was in the Army ROTC, and he hopes to fulfill his military commitment sometime in the future as a chaplain.
Four of his siblings continue to serve in the military. His oldest sister, Major Kate Scott Gowel, is a West Point graduate and a JAG lawyer for the Army, as is his oldest brother, Major Andy Scott. His sister, Army Captain Kerney Scott Perlik, is a professor at West Point. His younger brother, First Lieutenant Adam Scott, serves as a helicopter pilot for the Army. Another sister, Karoline Newell, served in the Air Force for four years.
Deacon Scott said the example of his parents and siblings will shape his priesthood.
“I’m tremendously grateful to build on the legacy of my parents and my siblings,” he said. “They showed me a life of service. They showed me a life of care. They showed me the importance of giving your life for a higher purpose.”
Growing up on the Army base at Fort Belvoir, Alec Scott was also inspired by the example of two priests from the Archdiocese of Washington who were serving the Catholic community there. Father John Mudd, he said, “is just an absolutely kind man, so caring, so dedicated to serving everyone… He was always there for us.”
Father Gary Studniewski, a Washington priest serving as a military chaplain at Fort Belvoir, impressed Scott during his high school years. “He had a really strong and clear zeal for the faith and the Gospel,” he said. “… It impressed on me the need for the priesthood, the beauty of the vocation, the amazing task (that) the priesthood is.”
Deacon Scott’s decision to enter the seminary “grew out of admiration for them and what they did,” he said.
Since 2011, Deacon Scott has been studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where he has been inspired by another kind of service, witnessing the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI and then of Pope Francis. Pope Benedict, he said, “is a tremendous man of faith. He’s an incredible theologian… His writing is so clear and so beautiful.”
In 2013, he joined other seminarians gathered in the crowd at St. Peter’s Square, when Pope Francis was elected. “I was there when they announced his name, and he stepped out on the balcony,” he said. “It was an amazing, amazing experience.”
Pope Francis’s style has captured the world’s attention, but Deacon Scott said he has been especially inspired by the substance of what the new pope is saying, which he said is exemplified in the pontiff’s apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel.”
“That’s sort of the game plan for his papacy. We need to be showing the world… the joy of Christ and show them how transformative the presence of Christ is in our lives,” Deacon Scott said, noting how the work of the two most recent popes flows together. Pope Benedict, he said, “opened the Gospel for us in his prayerful insights. Pope Francis shows us it’s equally important, that lived experience of the Gospel.”
Pope Francis, he added, “gives the model” for priests to proclaim and live the truths of the faith, by sharing the joy of the Gospel and Christ’s love with their people.
“We have to be willing to reach out to people and meet them with a loving, pastoral heart, whatever situation they’re in. I’m tremendously humbled to be able to step into this role,” Deacon Scott said.
And as he begins his priesthood, Deacon Scott said he will continue to be inspired by the example of his parents, siblings, parish priests, and the popes whose lives of service he has witnessed. “It starts with being willing to serve and to care, and to be kind with everyone I meet,” he said.
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