Tag Archives: Masculine

Behind the scenes of Crux and Joust by Father Hasser

I interviewed Father Hasser about some of the questions I had about the behind-the-scenes of Crux and Joust.

EL: Can you compare/contrast Crux and Joust for those of us who don’t know the difference?

FH: Crux & JOUST are really two different retreats that use a lot of the same foundations. CRUX is open to any middle school boy, but JOUST is specifically for the high school young men in the Knights of the Holy Temple. CRUX is about awakening in the middle school boys an awareness of God and their relationship with Him, with themselves, with others and with all of the created world given to us by God. JOUST is the premier annual competition between the various parish chapters of the Knights, set on the cornerstone of their relationship with God and celebrated in daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and confession. Both events take the young men outdoors into the summer sun, the cool water of the Wildcat Creek, the dark clear cool summer night sky full of stars, the ball fields for dodgeball, basketball and football, space for archery, ultimate frisbee, tug-of-war and a large demanding obstacle course for the high school men.1002137_560267040703050_513913287_n

EL: How did these retreats come about? How have they evolved over the years? How do you foresee/hope these go in the future?

FH: Both were started under Fr. Brian Doerr’s direction during his time as the Director for Vocations. JOUST developed as an event to bring all of the Knights chapters together for fraternal bonding through good-natured competition. CRUX developed as an opportunity for seminarians to reach out and serve the middle school young men as they prepare and transition into adolescent experience of their relationship with Christ. In the future I hope to see both of them continue to grow…this year we saw a very significant growth in participation at CRUX, and we are making plans to continue allowing even more growth in the coming years.

EL: What is the connection with Camp Wojtyla?

FH: Camp Wojtyla is a youth camp for both young men and young women in Colorado that I discovered almost two years ago at NCYC. I really liked what I saw in their literature, and I have asked a few of our seminarians to participate in their summer camp as staff counselors. This gives them an intensive opportunity to learn a lot of skills that they can then implement back here at home in their work with our youth. It is still early, but the skills that they are bringing back is helping us to build even strong models for both CRUX and JOUST.969165_560236437372777_688252962_n

EL: What do you hope are the biggest “takeaways” for the boys? For the seminarians?

FH: For the boys…I hope they take away a greater experiential awareness of God and His Church through their experiences. I hope they take away a better sense of our faith as it can and needs to be lived out in daily activities. I hope they take away a better ability to look for and find God in the tangible world that God has surrounded them with in comparison to the increasingly virtual world that they swim in every day in our culture.
For the seminarians…I hope they take away the same things as the boys but on an even deeper level. I hope they also take away experience with the administrative responsibilities and minutia that are involved in priestly ministry. Both of these events are primarily planned and directed by the seminarians. This gives them the opportunity to stretch and exercise their administrative muscles, sometimes learning which muscles need to be used more or with greater precision. This is ultimately practice for their future ministry as pastors of parishes and schools where the activities and goals are even more serious and take even more effort.988614_559735127422908_174775775_n

EL: Have the boys/seminarians taught you anything during the retreats?

FH: Most of what I learn from the young men and seminarians during these retreats are by observation. They have reminded me of their goodness and faithfulness, their desire to know the LORD and to live by His path. On a lighter note, they have also reminded me that they are still learning and aren’t perfect! Staying up and praying the rosary to get the middle school boys to stay quiet and go to sleep at night reminds me of what parents experience all the time! As the seminarians plan for the retreats and bring those plans to reality, I am reminded of their passion for the Gospel and for serving the young men who attend.

EL: The Catholic Moment article talked about the emphasis on masculinity. Why is this so important?

FH: Masculinity is an important element in both retreats because elements in our culture systematically dismantle and eliminate masculinity from our daily life. Young men (and many adult men, too) don’t know what it means that God made them male. A parallel reality is that young men (and many adult men, too) don’t know what it means that God made girls female. There is a dangerous foundational ignorance about who we are and why God made us as such. These retreats are not meant to be a comprehensive course on masculinity; rather, they simply fill in some of the void that is left by the culture. It is important for their relationship with God, with themselves and others and with the created world. We are not gods, and we are not identical to each other as male and female. We are unique and beautiful, but the world tells us that we are all beige, or worse, blank slates that can become whatever we want to be. Our retreats don’t address all of this directly, but rather they shine lights on various sides of reality which have been hidden in the shadows of darkness.

EL: Any stand out moments this summer? Or any summer? Best memory–both fun and/or spiritually profound?

FH: Haha, yes, one moment definitely stole the show and stands out above the rest. During CRUX one of the middle school boys took the risk of standing up at campfire one night and singing a hilarious song. It changed history. He instantly became a rock star. The campfire that evening was losing steam and the boys as a whole were losing interest. Many of us adults wondered what was going to happen if something didn’t change. It was soon going to be the shortest campfire celebration in the history of summer camps. But them during a quiet moment this particular young man got up and walked to the front of the crowd with his head held high and his confidence probably dangerously overflowing. He gave a little disclaimer about his voice not being in the best condition, and then he began to sing a camp song that not one of us had ever heard before. It was hilariously engaging, and at the end of each verse you could feel the crowd hoping it was over but at the same time secretly looking forward to another verse. And verse came after verse…again…and again….and again…and everyone was rolling laughing. At the final ending, this young man finished strong and proud, and the crowd whooped and cheered and whistled with delight as he took a delighted bow and went back to his seat with a skip in his step. He was now a rock star and it was a grand evolution of a young man. I’m sure it is an experience that he will remember for his whole life.


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July 31, 2013 · 8:16 PM

Crux and Joust retreats

August 4, 2013

Focus on faith, fellowship at two retreats for young men

By Caroline B. Mooney (The Catholic Moment)

RUSSIAVILLE — Back-to-back retreats held at a 60-acre camp offered young men a chance for spiritual growth and fraternal bonding with each other, seminarians, priests and deacons of the diocese.

“I thought it was fun being out here in nature — God’s creation,” said Gabe Klinker, 12, of the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Lafayette.

“I really wanted to come renew my relationship with Christ. It was cool to have Mass in the amphitheater and when we processed with the monstrance outside in nature, it was very peaceful and calm. It was still so I could just focus on God with no distractions.”


Oakbrook Valley Camp in rural Kokomo was home to 80 sixth- through eighth-grade boys from 18 parishes for the fourth annual CRUX retreat July 16-18, and 45 high school-age JOUST retreatants from July 19-21. The young men slept under a tent, went canoeing, hiking, learned archery and played football, ultimate Frisbee and dodge ball. They spent time in prayer and attended Mass and reconciliation.

CRUX (Latin for cross), was open to all young men, while the JOUST retreat was open to members of the Knights of the Holy Temple, which has chapters at eight parishes. The Knights, which began in the diocese in 1999, serve Mass and work in their parishes and communities.

Father David Hasser, diocesan director of vocations, said the retreats give the vocations office a way to establish contact and a real presence with young men.

“This is a great way to plant seeds,” he said. “The retreats are not all about vocations to the priesthood – it’s about young men becoming who they were created to be. We talk about the heroes God calls them to be and help them reach for God’s grace through sacraments and prayer.

“JOUST is the premier event for the Knights of the Holy Temple, allowing members to meet young men from other chapters,” Father Hasser said. “Although the chapters are autonomous, they are all following the same path. Their fraternal bonding is fruitful, especially as they graduate high school. Often they end up together at college and have their spiritual and human support amidst the challenges of college life.”

He said the retreats offer a good pastoral experience for seminarians as they work with youth in a spiritual and human way.retreats02-large

“We are trying to instill in these young men an opportunity to encounter Christ in a real way,” said seminarian Derek Aaron, retreat coordinator. “The main goal was to have them seek to be good, holy Catholic gentleman by being immersed in God’s creation and the sacraments.”

At CRUX, boys were randomly placed in groups in order to meet other boys and to encounter and have a God experience on their own. Each group wrote full value contracts after discussing what they could strive for and how they could better themselves.

Each CRUX group was named for a different male saint. Members learned about their patron and then made a flag, which was carried at all times as a standard to show pride in their Christian identity.

CRUX and JOUST offered Eucharistic adoration and Eucharistic processions. Young men prayed the Stations of the Cross in the woods, picking out logs to carry on their shoulders to bear the wood of the cross.

“They don’t pick little twigs – they pick hefty logs,” Aaron said. “These boys want to become men, and by becoming men they strive for greatness. When they strive for greatness in activities, we want to parallel how we can strive for greatness in a relationship with our Lord.

“Each activity was a chance to grow spiritually,” he said. “For instance, in archery, we tried to instill good form, how to aim for and focus on a target. Afterward, we would reflect on the activity, relating it to our spiritual life. With archery, we related a bull’s eye to keeping your eye on Christ. If your aim is off, it is like not paying attention to your actions and that can lead to sin.”

“The boys at CRUX can find their Christian identity and know that God loves them and will be always there when you need help,” said Miles Newkirk, a seminarian leader from St. Maria Goretti, Westfield.

“The point of the retreat is to help them grow in relationship with Christ,” said seminarian Jimmy O’Connor, from St. Joan of Arc, Kokomo. “I really hope we connected with the boys and made that happen. We also want them to have a good time and meet some new people. Ultimately, though, we want to show them the next step.”

“Everyone is so nice, and you can go further in your faith here,” said Drew Fitzgerald, 12, of St. Patrick Parish, Kokomo. “I came here and instantly loved it. And last year, no one could hit me in dodge ball.”

Jonah Lyons, 13, of St. Maria Goretti Parish, Westfield, said he enjoyed “meeting new people who share your faith, and it’s fun to hang out with the seminarians.”

Conner Knipp, 12, from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, Carmel, enjoyed hiking, being outdoors and looked forward to canoeing. “It’s a very faith-filled atmosphere with Mass every night and our group prayers every day,” he said.

At the JOUST retreat, Aaron said, “We ask God to guide the young men to what he wants for them, not what they want for themselves. They adhere to an honor code that states they are always conscience of who they are as Catholic gentlemen and of the example they set for others. We must never underestimate the power we have as witnesses to Jesus Christ.”

Each JOUST chapter has male parishioners who serve as chaperones or “confreres”, and mentor the young men.

Tom Lingafelter is a confrere at St. Alphonsus, Zionsville.

“These young men are the best,” he said. “They are what you want your next generation to be. To watch the kids work together spiritually is wonderful.”

“These kids are so much more spiritual than I was than I was at their age — all I thought about was cars and girls,” said Jim Spitznogle, a confrere from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. “It’s great to see how faithful the young men are. One group was playing ultimate Frisbee and they stopped for a spontaneous rosary – all their own idea. This is a great group of guys and has been a lot of fun.”

Ian Finley, 17, a high school junior from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Carmel, said he really enjoyed meeting guys from other Knights chapters and hanging out together.

“One of the best parts was a game of ultimate Frisbee that lasted until 11:30 p.m.,” he said. “Afterward, praying the rosary together was powerful.”

“This is a family that we can’t get anywhere else,” said Chris Ellington, 16, a junior from St. Maria Goretti. “We all become actual brothers , non-blood, but still brothers in the connection we can get. We have a lot of time where we’re allowed to be ourselves, and I don’t get that time anywhere else. This retreat has helped me in every aspect of my life, including my faith life.”

“The best thing about being a Knight is serving Mass, seeing and understanding what is going on during Mass,” said Mitch Witt, 15, a sophomore from St. Mary Cathedral, Lafayette. “At JOUST, we have great male bonding and pure fun. It’s been a great experience.”

“I think it’s fun seeing all the buys from other chapters here,” said Jacob Fox, 15, a high school freshman from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Carmel. “It’s cool to be around guys who share the same faith and meet a lot of seminarians.”

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July 31, 2013 · 6:31 PM

Camp Wojtyla, Colorado


This summer Derek Aaron, a seminarian for our diocese from St. Joan of Arc Parish in Kokomo, is spending two months nestled in the mountains near Jamestown, Colorado.  He is working at a Catholic summer camp named Camp Wojtyla.  This trailblazing Catholic camp was launched in 2006 by FOCUS Continue reading

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March 28, 2013 · 2:50 PM

Speaker: Mr. Grant Freeman

Freeman_profile_2KEVIN CULLEN

Every boy needs a battle to fight, an adventure to live and a beauty to rescue. That exciting trinity is part of his DNA. It’s up to parents to guide their sons toward noble battles, wholesome adventures and beauties worthy of the name. Continue reading

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January 15, 2013 · 1:19 PM

Knights of the Holy Temple

rsz_1rsz_knights_shieldCOLE DAILY

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). The Psalmist understands that there is something special about brotherhood, something mystical. But what is it? Continue reading

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January 15, 2013 · 1:02 PM

March for Life 2012 with Knights of the Holy Temple



Late Friday night January 20 through early Tuesday morning January 24, 30 young men joined me on a pilgrimage to Maryland where we participated in the annual March Continue reading

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January 15, 2013 · 12:00 PM

Wilderness Outreach 2012 Expedition

WO_2012_3Recently ten seminarians and Father David Hasser participated in an expedition to the Domeland Wilderness in the southernmost area of the Sequoia National Forest in California. Continue reading

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January 15, 2013 · 11:45 AM