AsceND Accountability groups available for students

The Observer recently published “Escaping porn’s prison,” a viewpoint article about the damage caused by pornography and masturbation. The author, Josh Haskell, is a senior at Notre Dame. He highlighted that 91.5 % of U.S. adult male internet users have watched porn at least once in the last month and described the way that he has been personally affected, beginning at 15 years old (3 years older than the national average age of first exposure). Throughout, Haskell detailed his personal journey with and struggle against these two issues.

Haskell’s article was the kickoff for a new group on campus known as AsceND. Its founders and leaders are working to transform the lives of Notre Dame men in order to free them to love in the way that God desires. 

Haskell writes, “One year of fighting passed. Then two years. Then three. And after almost a thousand days of strenuous effort, I still couldn’t break free from porn.” He continues, “There was one thing stronger than my nagging shame: my desire to love. I had this clear, detailed image in my mind of the man that I wanted to be.” 

This mission of AsceND is firmly rooted in the eternal truths of the Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 2338, says, “The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. It tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech.” 

AsceND began over the summer when Josh Haskell and fellow junior Nadim Khouzamboth independently decided to create an opportunity for the men of Notre Dame to join accountability groups to fight sins of lust. When they heard about each other’s efforts, they joined forces to help support the men of Notre Dame. Their stories bear remarkable similarities to each other and are indicative of the widespread struggle against pornography and masturbation today. 

The two men also share a similarity in the path that led them to grow in purity and fight lust. Both Haskell and Khouzam acknowledge the role that accountability has played in their personal growth in this area. In an interview with the Rover, Khouzam said, “When something lingers in the dark for so long, it’s easy for our eyes to miss it. When we bring it out to the light, we can face it head-on and work together in accountability to fight against it.” 

This sentiment is the driving strategy of their new group. It is set up with one leader facilitating a small group of four men, which is then broken down into accountability partner pairs. The leaders are also in groups of other leaders in order to ensure that everyone receives accountability and support. 

Thus far, the response on campus has been strongly positive. Campus Ministry has partnered with the group to advertise, provide meeting locations, and give general support. Due to Haskell’s article, Campus Ministry, several announcements at dorm masses, and word of mouth, the group has grown to include well over 100 members. 

Members of AsceND will start off by reading Forged by Matt Fradd and Jason Evert. Moreover, men will be supplemented by monthly group activities such as attending Mass, volunteering at a nursing home, and sharing meals.

In addition to AsceND, there is a similar effort starting for women on campus. The Notre Dame women’s discernment group, BeLoved, will be partnering with Magdala Ministries to form a Notre Dame accountability group in late September using a curriculum specially designed for women struggling with porn and/or masturbation. The Magdala curriculum is rooted in Catholic doctrine, but women of all faith backgrounds are welcome to join. 

To sign up for one of these groups, fill out the interest form. Men interested in learning more can reach out to Josh Haskell ( or Nadim Khouzam (, while women can email BeLoved vice-presidents Lorenza Vielma-Paredes and Hope Gaetano at

Evan Maxwell Thomas Aquinas Bursch is a senior from Caledonia, Michigan majoring in physics, philosophy, and theology. He is a Resident Assistant in O’Neill Family Hall (the best hall on campus). If you have any advice that might aid him in applying for Ph.D. programs in plasma physics please email

Photo Credit: Notre Dame Campus Ministry

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