Pair honored for work with Scouts Awards surprise Jack Farren, Johnny Nassour

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 12, 2011

Two Vicksburg men with a combined 95 years with the Boy Scouts of America have received awards for their “significant and outstanding contributions to the spiritual development of Catholic youths through scouting.”

“They were both speechless,” said the Rev. P.J. Curley, pastor of St. Michael Catholic Church, where Johnny Nassour and Jack Farren were surprised with their awards after a Mass on Sunday. “‘Johnny Mo’ and Jack have been involved in all other areas of Catholic faith, they are both very faith-filled guys.”

The St. George Awards they received were given through the National Catholic Committee on Scouting and represent the highest award that a Roman Catholic diocese can award a Scout.

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“I knew Jack was getting it and he knew I was getting it, but we didn’t know we were each going to get it,” Nassour said.

“I was absolutely blown away,” Farren said.

Nassour is a Vicksburg native who has been a member of Vicksburg’s Troop 7 since 1955, serving as a junior assistant Scout master, assistant Scout master and Scout master. He currently is the institutional representative between the Scouts and the Knights of Columbus Council 898, the Vicksburg chapter of the Catholic men’s group.

Farren, who has lived in Vicksburg for about 15 years, has been with the Scouts since 1972 and previously served in Philadelphia, Omaha, Neb., New Orleans and Alameda, Calif.

“The success of this program is due to the men and women who eat, sleep and breathe scouting,” said Kathie Curtis, the director of youth ministry for the Diocese of Jackson, who presented the awards. “If you don’t have strong leadership, you are going to be stagnant.”

Recipients of the award are nominated by people within the local Boy Scout community. The names are then submitted to the local Catholic Committee on Scouting and on to the bishop of Diocese of Jackson, who passes it on to the NCCS for final approval.

“There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that these men were due to get the award,” said Ben Piazza of Jackson, a member of the state’s CCS. “They are both very active in the training of Scouts and Scout leaders.”

The awards are believed to be the first in Vicksburg in 40 years, Nassour said.

Troop 7 was chartered in 1934 with 10 members, making it the oldest continuously chartered troop in Vicksburg. In 77 years, it has had 98 Eagle Scouts, 47 assistant Scout masters and three Scout masters.