For the last 17 years, Father Raymond Crosser has been an integral part of the BG athletic department, serving as athletic chaplain. “I am so proud of the accomplishments of our athletic teams, especially proud to have been with two consecutive State Football Championship teams. I saw in them a determined and dedicated group – what team spirit is all about.” In addition to football, Fr. Crosser’s tenure has seen District 6 championships in both boys’ and girls’ sports, including girls’ basketball State Champions and cheerleading championships.
Retiring last December, Father Crosser reflects on his time as athletic chaplain and why he felt called to serve at BG. As a 1948 graduate of the school himself, Fr. Crosser became a priest, ordained in 1956. He served most of his 61 years outside of the Altoona area.
When he retired in 1996, Fr. Crosser decided to serve the students of BG. “I thought to myself, maybe I should go back to Bishop Guilfoyle and see how I could repay them for all they’ve given me.” Always interested in athletics, Fr. Crosser decided to volunteer for the football and basketball teams, before officially being named athletic chaplain for all sports. “I would say mass for the football team before every game, as well as for any other teams that wanted me to. I also said the Rosary before games with the teams. I attended all of the games possible for all of the different sports, and it kept me busy!” he recalls.
Being on the sidelines was an honor for Fr. Crosser, even if it came with risk. “During a football game, I was right there on the sidelines and got knocked down. At first, they wouldn’t let me get up because they thought I was hurt, but when I finally got up, I gave a blessing and the game went on. I think I remember hearing one of the players worry that he killed a priest!” he chuckles.
Father Crosser knew that his responsibility to the students reached further than athletics. He would tell the students, “Stick to the books. Education is the greatest gift you can give to yourself.” And he knows that Bishop Guilfoyle is a place where students can excel on and off the field. “Bishop Guilfoyle’s primary responsibility to the students is giving them a good education. Participation in sports is secondary, it builds character. Realize that competition both on the field and in the classroom will carry them forward.”
Recently, in honor of his retirement, the school held a mass and luncheon. The beloved athletic chaplain received many wonderful tributes and gifts, including signed equipment from many of the athletes. As he addressed the crowd, the students, “gave me a standing ovation and chanted ‘Father Crosser, Father Crosser.’ It was a nice honor and I really appreciated it.”
Looking ahead, Father Crosser plans to stay involved as much as he can. “I will be 87 in April and while I can no longer serve as I once did, I love the kids. I plan to do all I can to support them.”