3 brothers attain Eagle Scout
By Jim Gauger
Special to The CS&T
Eagle Scout is the highest rank a young man can attain in the Boy Scouts of America. The requirements are many and challenging.
When three members of one family reach that goal, it is a remarkable achievement.
Michael Farias, 26, and brothers Stephen, 22, and Andrew, 19, will receive their badges on Saturday, Nov. 28, in the parish hall of St. Anastasia Church in Newtown Square, Delaware County.
Michael, Stephen and Andrew are the sons of Chris and Maria Farias of Broomall. Chris is the founder and owner of Eastern Business Software, and Maria is a pediatrician at Crozier-Chester Medical Center in Chester.
The Farias are a Catholic immigrant family from India, where only about 2 percent (25 million) of the population is Christian. Chris and Maria married in 1982 and moved into St. Anastasia Parish in 1986.
Chris was a member of a boy scout troop in Bombay [now Mumbai] in the sixth or seventh grade. Chris and Maria’s families in India were both academically oriented.
“My wife’s father was a professor of microbiology and a research scientist at Bombay University,” Chris said. “My parents didn’t go to college but they insisted we all work hard. There was a strong academic push from both sides of the family. I come from a family of eight, and my wife from a family of six, and all are college graduates.”
Besides the academic background, there was another set of principles that the Farias’ carried to this country.
As Chris explained, “I was very firm that the boys learn Catholic ideals and values. They played a strong role in my parents’ lives. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
Accomplishment has accompanied Michael, Stephen and Andrew from the days when they were Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts and members of Larchmont Boy Scout Troop 315.
Maria described their achievements.
“As an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, Michael served as a leader of Penn Habitat for Humanity and a peer adviser to incoming freshman,” she said. “As a graduate student at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Business School (HBS), Michael has volunteered with Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, taught with Junior Achievement, served on the philanthropy board of the HBS Healthcare Club, mentored children with behavioral problems and was elected as the Leadership and Values Chair of his MBA section.”
When Stephen was “an undergraduate at Princeton University, he was active in many student organizations including Outdoor Action, Princeton Pro-Life, the Anscombe Society and the Aquinas Catholic Community,” she said. “(He) is currently pursuing his doctoral degree in Material Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, where he serves as a representative in the graduate student government and as a member of the university’s graduate travel grants committee.”
Andrew is currently “a sophomore in the honors program at Boston College, majoring in biochemistry. He continues to volunteer his time to tutor students in the Boston area,” his mother said.
To become an Eagle Scout, a candidate must fulfill six requirements, with an emphasis on the service project. The final hurdle is appearing before an Eagle Scout Board of review.
“It’s a pretty challenging process, the timelines they have to meet,” Chris said. “They have to complete all the requirements before their 18th birthday. If they are one badge short, tough luck. Then the board has to review the project, and they can reject it.”
The boys’ service projects all involved the city of Chester.
“Chester has a unique set of issues, social and economic. For me, it was fascinating how they proceeded with the projects,” Chris said.
For Michael’s Eagle Scout Service project, he “planned and organized a computer training program for students at the William Penn Elementary School. He created a curriculum to teach basic computer and Internet skills to first and second graders there, and also trained the teachers on how to use this curriculum.”
“Stephen organized a book drive at his school,” Chris said. “He took these books to a church in Chester that ran a dinner program for local children. Stephen got a group of his high school students to join him in reading to the little children and helping them with their homework on a weekly basis.”
Andrew’s service project, his father said, involved planning and organizing “an SAT tutoring program for students from Chester High. He created a curriculum and spent many Saturday afternoons tutoring his students in math and reading. Andrew received the Spirit of Philadelphia Award for his service to the community.”
Usually, there is only a short period between the time a scout reaches the Eagle Scout goal and the awards ceremony. But not so for one of the brothers. “Michael completed his requirements for Eagle Scout and 10 days later he was off to college,” Chris said.
The awards night is scheduled for the Thanksgiving weekend so that friends home for the holiday can attend.
“There is a lot of tradition in the awards ceremony,” Chris said. “They outline the scout’s journey through scouting. It’s rare to have three scouts from the same family and it’s unusual to have them all receive the award on the same day.”
There are five obligations of an Eagle Scout: honor, loyalty, courage, cheerfulness and service. Michael, Stephen and Andrew will be recognized for their ever-expanding service to their ever-expanding communities.
Jim Gauger is a freelance writer and a member of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish, Glenside