Father Hasser called it a “highly valuable, intensive formation opportunity.”
Funding was provided by an anonymous donor.
Seminarians Will Summerlin, Matthew Andrzejewski, Sam Schneider and Matthew Spencer begin the first cut to clear a large tree from the trail. (Photo provided)
As the seminarians labored using two-man crosscut saws, axes and shears, they got to know one another amid the beauty of the rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains. Mass was celebrated daily and the men prayed the Liturgy of the Hours – prayers said daily by Roman Catholic priests.
“The experience of hiking this deep into the remote wilderness was similar to the detachment of leaving everything behind when going on a spiritual retreat,” Father Hasser said. “It was great not because it was easy, but because it tested us and pushed us to our limits both physically and mentally.”
They worked in the Domeland Wilderness Area, which is in the southernmost section of the national forest. The men slept in tents and hauled all their gear to their base camp on their backs. They filtered all their drinking water – at least one gallon per person per day.
The men hiked nearly five miles to and from their work sites. That, and the labor, left them sunburned and exhausted, but the U.S. Forest Service presented each man a certificate of appreciation for a job well done.
Among the team members was William “Will” Summerlin, 19, a seminarian at St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. He attends St. Maria Goretti Church, Westfield.
“I’ve always loved spending time outdoors and doing manual work,” he said. “I knew that the fraternity of all the seminarians would really grow.”
A large rock and a fallen tree served as makeshift altars for Mass.
“Praying outside is very peaceful,” Summerlin said. “You can hear the sounds of nature … we’d have 30 minutes of silent prayer every day. Each of us would go to a spot and sit in the silence. That was my favorite -- you can hear God.”
The men “learned how to push through and persevere,” he said. “We all kind of learned that when you keep persevering, you can accomplish more than you thought you could. Prayer throughout the day rejuvenated us.”
Team member Steve Duquaine, 26, is a third-year theology student at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Maryland. He’s from St. Ambrose Parish, Anderson.
“It was a great opportunity for silence, to experience the beauty of nature with my brother seminarians, and to work in an environment that was very foreign,” he said. “We had to rely on each other. It was a great opportunity for me to get to know some of the younger guys I hadn’t really talked to a lot.”
The sense of brotherhood, he said, “will be present, hopefully, when we are priests.”
He enjoyed using traditional, manual logging tools.
“We talked about how pleasant the sound was as we smoothly sawed through the wood with the two-man saw,” he said. “There was a rhythm; there was almost a meditative aspect to the work.”
The expedition was led by John Bradford, director of Wilderness Outreach, a Catholic lay organization that challenges priests, seminarians and laymen to embrace and develop their God-given manhood.
Father Hasser, Bradford, Summerlin and Duquaine were joined by diocesan seminarians Pete Logsdon, Matthew Spencer, Derek Aaron, Alex McGauley, Coady Owens, Matthew Andrzejewski and Christian DeCarlo, plus a seminarian for a Wisconsin diocese.
Since 2008, Bradford has led three expeditions with vocations directors and seminarians from the Lafayette diocese.
“These men have consistently set the bar for their dedication to the five pillars of Wilderness Outreach: worship, work, asceticism, leadership and brotherhood,” he said.
FRANCESVILLE - The 45th annual commencement exercises at West Central High School will be at 2 p.m., Sunday (May 26), in the school gymnasium. The program will begin with a baccalaureate service with the address given by Don Nedza, followed by the graduation program.
Forty-nine seniors will receive diplomas. Commencement addresses will be given by valedictorian David Putt and salutatorian Evan Kaeb.
WINAMAC - Commencement exercises at Winamac Community High School will be at 7 p.m., Friday (May 31), in the school gymnasium. The program will include the tradition of awarding several community scholarships.
The Class of 2013 numbers 87 seniors, and will be led down the aisle by valedictorian Kathleen Budd and salutatorian Andrew Brandon.
LOGANSPORT - Civic Players of Logansport will present "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," directed by David Quigney, on two weekends in June.
The five performances are at 7:30 p.m., Friday, June 14; and at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 15. The show will also be staged on the following weekend at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday (June 21-22).
Pulaski County's unemployment rate fell to 6.1. percent in April, down from 7.7 percent (revised) in March, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development reported Friday (May 17). The rate was 6.4 percent a year ago.
The state's April rate dipped to 8.5 percent (seasonally adjusted), from 8.7 percent in March. The April 2012 rate was 8.3 percent. The U.S. rate improved to 7.5 percent (seasonally adjusted), down from March's 7.6 revised rate. A year ago, the national rate was 8.1 percent.
WINAMAC - Winamac Community High School will hold its Senior Awards Night at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 28, in the socialtorium. The public is welcome to attend.
Seniors will receive special recognition in the form of academic competition awards, honor roll, scholarship awards and special academic and athletic awards. Representatives from various colleges, local organizations and the school will present these awards.
INDIANAPOLIS -Private landowners looking to improve wildlife habitat on their property may qualify for financial assistance through the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife, particularly if they want to benefit bobwhite quail and ring-neck pheasants.
Bobwhite quail and ring-neck pheasant are prized game birds. However, populations of both have suffered from permanent habitat loss or lack of maintenance on existing habitat.
INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law Thursday (May 9) that will expand the state’s school voucher program in front of 150 students, including some who already are benefiting from the program.
Students from seven different private vouchers schools met at the Calvary Christian School auditorium with signs that said, “I yearn to learn” and “school choice now.”
INDIANAPOLIS – The organization that regulates high school sports will decide next week whether to let some homeschooled students participate in high school athletics.
The move by the Indiana High School Athletic Association comes two years after the issue bubbled up at the Indiana General Assembly, where lawmakers considered but never passed a bill to mandate the change.
INDIANAPOLIS - Each year, the Indiana Department of Education recognizes schools that perform in the upper 25th percentile of schools in performance on ISTEP+ and ECA state exams, as well their rating determined by the national No Child Left Behind statute's Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
Among the schools designated for this honor as Four Star Schools for 2011-12 were Eastern Pualski Elementary School and West Central High School in Pulaski County.
WEST LAFAYETTE - Warm, sunny days during the week ending Ma;y 20 allowed farmers to make good progress planting both corn and soybeans, according to the Indiana Field Office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Once again, the most acreage was planted across northern and some central counties. Soils remained too wet across the southern districts to allow much progress to be made.
WINAMAC - Eastern Pulaski Community School Board president Mike Tetzloff outlined the search timeline to hire a new school superintendent at the board's monthly meeting Monday (May 13).
Applications for the position will be accepted until May 28. Interviews will be completed by June 29, and the new superintendent will be named in early July; however, he/she will not be officially placed until the end of July after a public meeting.
INDIANAPOLIS - Gov. Mike Pence Thursday vetoed House Enrolled Act 1546, concerning unauthorized collection of local option income tax in Jackson and Pulaski counties after legal authority for those tax collections had expired.
The Pulaski County Democrats Central Committee has reorganized for the 2013 year. New officers elected were: county chair Bill Reutebuch; county vice chair, Laura Bailey; secretary, Diana Dutton and treasurer, Jenise Barnhouse.
Long time secretary, Betty Podell, and treasurer, Betty Parcel, have retired from their positions after nearly 40 years each.
INDIANAPOLIS - Citing her broad background in facilitating job creation in rural and agribusiness communities, Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Gina Sheets announced Tuesday (May 14) the appointment of Connie Neininger as ISDA director of Economic Development & Trade.
INDIANAPOLIS - Nearly 60 Pulaski County residents crossed the finish line in the running of the 37th annual One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, Saturday (May 4), in downtown Indianapolis. A field of 35,000 participated in the event.
Mike Haschel of Winamac led county runners, finishing with a time of 1:19:20 and a 59th place finish overall. He was followed by Glenn Bailey who completed the Mini in a time of 1:27:07.