Door County retreat center to be used as young adult formation center

By | February 11, 2009

CYE was founded in 2002 to take youth and young adults on expedition retreats in Door County and Upper Michigan. It was first located on Chambers Island in Door County. Last summer, it was based at St. Pius X Church in Appleton, where Fr. Quinn Mann, CYE’s founder and spiritual director, is associate pastor. CYE offered retreats to 400 young people in 2008 to help high school and college students encounter Jesus Christ and foster Catholic Christian community through expedition retreats of prayer, proclamation of the Gospel, and outdoor adventure.

CYE will operate the Baileys Harbor site, which includes 7.5 acres of land on Kangaroo Lake, as a place where young adults can live in community while they grow in their faith. These young adults will be helped to discover their call to service through the priesthood, consecrated life as a religious sister or brother, or through marriage or the single life.

“We have enough retreat centers,” said Fr. Mann, “but a formation center is a place for young people to form what we call an intermediary community – a sort of stepping stone for discerning your vocation from God.”

“We hope to use the property to be able to fill a gap,” he added, “to meet what young people are yearning for: to share in a sense of Christ community, to learn to pray, to learn what it means to minister to someone.”

Fr. Tom Long, vocations director for the Green Bay Diocese, said, “We hope that St. Joseph Formation Center will become a real catalyst for encouraging young adults to grow in their faith, be formed in the Gospel and serve the church in a variety of ways. I have already seen much fruit from CYE in terms of people considering religious vocations and looking at strong Christian marriages, and I’m very excited about this opportunity and at the same time realize it’s a huge undertaking.”

This summer, CYE will run 17 expedition retreats from St. Joseph Formation Center. Fr. Mann said he already has 23 applicants for summer staff positions, and a live-in house mother may soon be appointed.

A summer staff of 12 college students will live in community and lead the expeditions. A year-round community of young adults will be developed to give them an experience of community life and spiritual formation. St. Joseph Formation Center will also provide a place for young women to experience community life and be in discernment about their vocations.

Fr. Long noted that, since about half the people currently involved with CYE are from outside the diocese, there will be input from places outside the diocese, including the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

“The hope,” Fr. Long said, “would be to have a group of college-age students commit to nine months of community living and formation” during the non-summer months.

He added that Mundelein Seminary in northern Illinois and St. Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee are interested in exploring possibilities of utilizing the center for spiritual programs.

Calling the lease from the Sacred Heart Fathers “a tremendous gift,” Fr. Long noted St. Joseph’s history as a novitiate for the order. So, in some ways, “St. Joseph’s is reverting back to its former use,” he said.

The Diocese of Green Bay already has a formation house, Xavier House in De Pere, for young men considering the vocation of priesthood. Fr. Long noted that some of the residents of Xavier House are involved with CYE already, and that two of them will be on staff with CYE this summer.

“These things sort of work together,” he said.

More information about Catholic Youth Expeditions is available at www.cyexpeditions.org.

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