Mark Lyons, far right, leads the eight-member SPIRITUS team of young adults who will tour the state giving retreats for young Catholics. Lyons, a Waukesha native, is a graduate of St. Paul School in Genesee Depot, St. Lawrence Seminary High School in Mount Calvary and Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. Also pictured are back row, left to right, Jenny Kampa, Mark Foley; center Jennilee Foreman, Nick Coombs, Kayln Van Roy, Melissa Helt, and Lyons; front Erin Schuessler and Tommy Nelson. (Submitted photo courtesy Mount Tabor Center)

MENASHA – Eight young adults. Nine months. One team. One mission: Igniting the faith of Catholic youth throughout Wisconsin.

SPIRITUS is a new youth retreat ministry group based out of Mount Tabor Center in Menasha in the Green Bay Diocese. The team, comprised of applicants from around the Midwest, trained at the St. Paul-based international headquarters of National Evangelical Teams (NET) Ministries whose mission is “to challenge young Catholics to love Christ and embrace the life of the church.”

Mark Lyons, a Waukesha native and graduate of St. Paul School in Genesee Depot, St. Lawrence Seminary High School in Mount Calvary and Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, is leading the SPIRITUS team with a goal of 140 retreats for young Catholics in grades three to 12 over a nine-month period ending next May.

Commitments to more than half of this goal have been made, including SPIRITUS events at St. Catherine of Siena, Ripon; St. Katharine Drexel, Beaver Dam; tri-parishes of Campbellsport; St. Lawrence Seminary High School and Holy Cross, Mount Calvary; St. Joseph, Waupun; St. Mary of the Hill, Holy Hill; West Bend quad parishes; Holy Family, Fond du Lac; and Shepherd of the Hills, Eden.

The team will travel by van throughout Wisconsin offering parishes and schools youth-focused retreats using praise, music, dramas, challenge activities, witnesses and small and large group discussions. In addition to grade-appropriate retreats, Lyons said the group offers 90-minute programs for teens that illuminate topics such as forgiveness and reconciliation, role models and saints, eucharistic miracles, defending the Catholic faith and virtue.

Ranging in age from 20 to 26 years, SPIRITUS team members agree to live by the teachings of the Catholic Church and promote them to the youth they serve; to refrain from dating; and to serve six days with one day off per week. On days without scheduled retreats, the team will visit schools and serve in community agencies. In addition, the team members will devote time to daily prayer – both community and personal – as well as attend Mass and receive the sacraments as frequently as possible.

Lyons has served on the executive board of the National Catholic Student Coalition, a Catholic campus ministry group offering leadership retreats and acting as a voice and vision for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Four years ago, he re-entered ministry as a director of religious education and youth ministry and he recently earned a master’s of divinity degree.

For information

about the SPIRITUS team or to learn more about Mount Tabor, call (920) 722-8918, or visit the Web site.

Team member Mark Foley, 26, of St. Mary Help of Christians Church, Sullivan, in the Madison Diocese was drawn into this opportunity by “the profound challenges and difficulties facing teens in today’s culture. There’s a definite and growing need for them to receive – and give – love.”

Foley hopes that over the nine-month commitment, he, his team and the youth they serve will grow in love for God “regardless of whatever they’re going through.”

“It’s an unusual opportunity for these people to live so radically for Jesus,” said Eden Foord, director of Mount Tabor. “Each one has indicated a deep love for God, and feels led by the Holy Spirit to follow Jesus with their life. They feel called to share their faith to inspire younger Catholics. Looking ahead, many of them envision ministerial work and leadership positions in the church. Vocations are another strong possibility.”

Mount Tabor is one of Wisconsin’s two youth-focused retreat centers, the other being the Tyme Out Youth Center located 30 miles west of Milwaukee in Nashotah.