February 10, 2022 // FEATURE

St. Joseph’s Club bolsters faith in young men 

Every Wednesday morning at 7:20, a group of high school boys gathers in the pastoral ministry wing of Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne. Several dozen young men sit down on the couches and chairs that line the room and engage in quiet conversation about topics ranging from schoolwork to sporting events. Once the room is filled, a prayer is said and the conversation is no longer about the latest NFL news or the schedule for that school day. Rather, they begin talking about their faith lives and how they have tried to say rosaries, increase their amount of time in prayer and go to confession.

This is the newly created St. Joseph’s Club at Bishop Dwenger High School, a Catholic young men’s group aimed at helping high schoolers embrace their faith and live a life centered on God. Meeting every Wednesday before school, members share the successes and failures they have had with their faith life in the past week, while other members provide support and accountability.

Brendan Nix
Presidents of St. Joseph’s Club Cole Carey and Will Gray sit in their customary spots during weekly meetings next to the statue of St. Michael the Archangel in the pastoral ministry wing of Bishop Dwenger High School.

This is the inaugural year of St. Joseph’s club at Bishop Dwenger, and the club is led by seniors Will Gray and Cole Carey. The idea for the club sprouted when they attended Catholic Youth events over the summer. 

“I went to Damascus this summer and there I felt a calling that the youth, especially the men, need some sort of group,” Gray said. “I didn’t know what that was going to be or look like, but I just felt that calling.”

Carey agreed and cited the Armor of God retreat he attended as a major inspiration for starting the program. “I think it really sparked when we went on the Armor of God retreat. We came in and it was really good, and it was a lot about accountability. We really enjoyed that, and we thought we needed to bring that to high school students.”

Jason Garrett, head of pastoral ministry and moderator of St. Joseph’s Club, said that the club was founded by students, and he finds that to be one of the most admirable aspects of it, along with the formation that comes from the club. “I think first and foremost the fact that it was initiated through students says an awful lot, and I think in terms of the faith what comes to mind is this quest of personal formation,” Garrett said.

Personal formation is one of the key aspects that the club seeks to instill in the young men. By providing a group where these young men can talk about their faith, St. Joseph’s Club allows for high school students to draw inspiration from others and hold each other accountable.

“I think for me it was just the importance of community because I know that I’ve been on plenty of retreats before, and it’s so easy to fall back into normal habits. Having that community makes it so much easier to grow in your faith and in your relationship with God when you know others are doing it with you,” Gray said.

The biggest way in which the club holds members accountable in their faith lives is through weekly challenges. Issued at the end of every meeting, these challenges range from spiritual, like praying a decade of the rosary in your car on the way to school, to physical, like making your bed every morning. Gray said that these aim to improve the spiritual and physical lives of all who are involved. 

“Each week after we give our statement of how we’ve been doing in our prayer lives, we offer a challenge, which is kind of a little spiritual exercise that we do for the week, whether it’s something like spending time in prayer or praying a certain prayer like the rosary or also doing a physical challenge like fasting. One of our challenges was just making our bed every morning and just doing that to help us to discipline ourselves in growing in that relationship with God and detaching ourselves from the worldly things.”

Although only in its first year, St. Joseph’s Club already has nearly 35 members, with that number sometimes reaching into the 40s depending on the day. One of the key aspects of the club is for the members to evangelize within the school, as both Gray and Carey see a need for faithful reinvigoration amongst many of the student body at Bishop Dwenger.

Most importantly, St. Joseph’s Club is providing a spark for many people within the school. With new or different members attending the meetings each week, there is a sense of optimism that the goal of the club is being accomplished. Garrett attests to that feeling, saying, “I always envision the Lord looking down on the earth, if you will, and wondering where all His friends are, and obviously needing friends, and in particular, young men that are friends, not perfect but striving. It’s inspiring to me watching young guys take on these challenges. It’s inspiring and I see a great deal of hope through the St. Joseph Club.”

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