NASHOTAH — Tyme Out Youth Ministry and Retreat Center is now Inspirio Youth Ministries Inc., a change that the executive director announced at “A Night to Inspire,” a fundraising event held May 2.
“After a year of strategic planning conducted by the board of directors, staff and representatives of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, it was determined a new name would complement the new and expanded ministries of the organization,” Joe Nettesheim, executive director of Inspirio, said in a written statement dated Monday, May 5.
According to the release, the name is “a unique spin on the word inspired” that “combines a Latin/Catholic tradition with a clear and modern wordsmithing. In addition, as an organization begun by leading confirmation retreats for youth, Inspirio maintains a connection to the Holy Spirit.”
In the release, Nettesheim also explained that inspired means “God Breathed” and the organization’s mission “has always been to help young people understand that the Spirit of God gives them life; provides their life meaning and purpose; and defines who they are.”
Nettesheim said the new name and logo just scratch the surface of the changes the Catholic youth center, founded in 1980 by School Sisters of Notre Dame Kieran Sawyer and Lucy Nigh, is undergoing.
“The Inspirio strategic plan, completed in July 2013, calls for a renewal of ministry focused in areas of Catholic Identity, Program Excellence, Strategic Leadership, Stewardship and Communication,” he said in the written statement, explaining that while Inspirio will continue to offer youth retreats, it will delve more deeply into training adults, offering youth ministry support to parishes, helping parents and families, and providing pastoral care and formation in social justice.
Nettesheim told the Catholic Herald in a telephone interview Monday that the ministry that provides day and overnight retreats and youth ministry programming was experiencing a decrease in the number of young people it was serving, and parishes were planning alternate ways to do retreats, which was affecting finances.
As board chair of Mareda, the Association of Catholic Catechetical Leaders in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee,
Heather Warner learned her peers didn’t feel a strong, Catholic identity in what was being done at the former Tyme Out Center, that the facility was dated, that there wasn’t a dedicated chapel space and that it was costly. Warner said she has seen many positive changes, including new paint colors, rearranged retreat spaces, incorporation of technology like smart TVs, the ability for PowerPoint and Wi-Fi.
“That makes a big difference when you’re offering your retreats to be able to have that technology at your fingertips and just the whole ambiance is much more modern and contemporary and comfortable for young people to be there than it was in the past,” she said, noting the center is also affordable.
Next year her students are going on the Encompass Retreat, one of the new retreats beginning this summer, which costs $95 for three days of camping with meals included.
Nettesheim explained that the Encompass Retreat offers middle school, high school and college-aged students the opportunity to experience the presence of God in nature, while the other new program, “Revolution of the Heart,” is a summer service camp where young people do service during the day and then process their service experience and learn about Catholic Social Teaching in the afternoon and evening.
Warner said there’s value in holding retreats at the center, which has re-evaluated its fees.
“Tyme Out has done a good job in the past two years to really look at their fees and really streamline things and also work with parishes to make things more affordable,” she said.
She encourages others to take advantage of the center, and hopes that the rebranding will draw attention to it.
“They really try to work with the parishes to have the retreat reflect the people that they’re serving when they come out,” Warren said. “I think the level of communication, everything, it’s just spectacular. It’s a very professional organization and I would really encourage all of my peers to at least go out and try it out again.”
Paul Baures, a member of the center’s board of directors, spoke enthusiastically about the rebranding and changes happening at Inspirio.
He experienced his first retreat at Tyme Out in 1984, his junior year at Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha. He volunteered in a peer ministry group on other confirmation retreats the following summer, and ended up working on about 50 or 60 of them throughout his college years at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
He returned when Nettesheim, who was a year behind him in the peer ministry group, reconnected with him after becoming executive director and asked Baures to get on board, which he did.
“It really speaks to me,” said Baures. “It’s something I’m really passionate about as far as youth and realizing that it is such a great time to get people connected to their faith.”
He said besides being excited about the name, he has high hopes for the center and is excited about the direction it’s going.
“I have the utmost respect and adoration for Sr. Kieran,” Baures said. “She really started something great, and passing the baton sometimes means you’ve got to shake things up a little bit.”
Peter Ogden of Ogden Realty in Milwaukee, a member of the board of directors and one of the sponsors for “A Night to Inspire,” said he’s been involved as a board member for just under a year, something that developed because his and Nettesheim’s daughters are in the same grade at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, Milwaukee.
Though Ogden is Presbyterian, his wife is Catholic, so his family is involved in St. Anthony on the Lake Parish, Pewaukee, and Immanuel Presbyterian Church, downtown Milwaukee.
He related Inspirio’s mission to what he experienced as a chaperone for high school juniors on a mission trip to West Virginia last summer and the ability it has to have an impact on the kids through retreats that bring them together, get them to know one another and experience things together.
“That’s why I got involved, just because I think it makes a difference, and it’s not just Catholic kids,” Ogden said. “It’s kids of all different denominations. It’s just people working together and getting to know one another, building trust in one another and at the end of the day, when we’re all done with a mission retreat or with a retreat in general, I think the kids come away with just a better understanding of who they are and what they can do to better serve the world.”
Ogden said the rebranding gives them a chance to spread the word about the center and “recreate the energy of what’s there.”
“I think that the business is the same; I mean it’s a retreat center, but I think it’s an opportunity to re-energize and go out and drum up some new business both on the Catholic side and on the other religious side in need of helping their youth,” he said.
Nettesheim said that the center needed refreshing and updating to ensure it’s as effective and relevant for youth today, in a quickly changing and technological culture, as it was years ago.
“We want to have a ministry that is thriving, that is helping young people grow in their faith, grow in their leadership, become people of character and integrity and there’s a real sense of urgency for that, and we did not feel we could wait anymore,” he said. “We did not feel that we could wait and watch people leaving church and not be honest about our own effectiveness and honest about where we want this ministry to go, and it’s so needed.”