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Elder is ‘boosting’ faith with fathers and sons

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Dec. 8, 2010
By Paul McKibben
ST. LAWRENCE DEANERY — A group at Elder High School in Cincinnati is helping to develop young men spiritually while also aiding the community. 
Elder’s Spiritual Boosters began for freshmen in 2004, “formed to teach the boys about male spirituality. We figured out the best way to do this was through the dads,” said Roger Auer, the school’s campus minister. “The dad will be there during the critical life experiences his son will encounter. This is when the Paschal mystery can be experienced firsthand.
“We believe the transformation from a boy to a man is able to take place with the guidance provided by the dad,” he added. “Life events involving loss, failure, disgrace and humiliation do not have to have negative consequences. Resurrection involves becoming something new not simply making it through.” 

elder spiritual boosters

The Boosters are comprised of about 20 members. Most, but not all, are Elder alum, and some have sons who attend the school, said Doug Jaeger, a member of the Boosters. 
Jaeger said he felt the call to join after he heard a brief talk by Tom Aug, the originator of the group, after the 2006 freshmen orientation Mass when his oldest son began his first year at Elder. Aug is also an Elder alumnus. 
“Knowing that men are often uncomfortable with such ‘touchy-feely’ things as religion and spirituality, it was decided to start out small by initially targeting the freshmen and their fathers,” Jaeger said. 
A recent service project by the Boosters was a turkey fry held the day before Thanksgiving to help needy families in the area. Jaeger said this year’s participants included members of the Spiritual Boosters, one member’s adult son, approximately nine father-freshman son pairs, a half-dozen Elder seniors, and a smattering of other students and faculty. Thirty meals for 29 families 
 were distributed.
The turkey fry was truly a community effort. Pumpkin pies and 12-pound turkeys were prepared the day of the event. Bridgetown Finer Meats donated the turkeys. Booster Roger Glandorf gave pie shells and pie ingredients. JTM Food Group donated 500 breadsticks. Wardway Fuels donated the propane for the fryers. Elder parents Joe Meyer donated two infrared fryers, and Paul Weil gave the oil for the fryers. Other fryers were loaned for the event. were made. (One extended family received two meals.)
Jaeger said the group has sponsored other father-son events in addition to the turkey fry. Those include a cleanup along Warsaw Avenue with Cincinnati Police District 3 officers and other groups, and cleanups at Rapid Run Park and the Western Wildlife Corridor.
The group also conducted a food drive to help stock the food pantry at Holy Family Church in Price Hill. They visit nursing homes, did a cleanup at Pregnancy Center West, and along with faculty and adult volunteers helped facilitate the freshman retreat at Elder held the day before Holy Thursday each year. 
“Obviously the church’s social justice teachings are a part of the various projects which we undertake,” Jaeger said. “But our goal is to help spark a deeper interest in our rich Catholic faith by the students and their fathers.” 
Jaeger said feedback to the group’s efforts has been positive. He said since they started doing the hands-on projects, it is seeing increased participation in the events and positive feedback from the fathers, sons and Booster members. 
“Last year when my youngest son signed up for the nursing home visits in addition to the turkey fry, I must confess I was a bit hesitant,” he said. 
“However, after visiting with residents that night with my son, I think it’s safe to say that we were all thankful for the opportunity to have participated and to have, in a small way, been Christ to some of our lonely senior citizens.” 
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