What’s up with the diocesan Vision? Part 3: establishing a retreat center/camp facility

By Megan Marley

Why do we need a diocesan retreat center/camp facility?

It’s not just because diocesan youth camps have outgrown the facilities they currently can rent for only 3-4 weeks of the summer.

“We [also] have a lot of needs in our diocese where people want to come together with commonalities, and then learn how to look at them through the eyes of Christ and with scripture, to figure out how to get through those situations in life…[situations such as] being widowed, a child who’s lost a parent, a parent who’s lost a child, divorce, etc.,” said Jennifer Doolittle, member of the visioning and implementation team who’s on the retreat center/camp working group.

A common retreat/camp facility would also create a sense of unity within the diocese.

“People instantly feel drawn together because of the experience they have had there, because of the space and the culture and atmosphere it creates,” Doolittle continued.

“Having [camps] already happening in the diocese is something that pointed us in this direction—in the end, this isn’t just a summer camp for middle and high schoolers, it’s much, much bigger,” she said.

Doolittle said that the working group has researched and visited similar facilities in other dioceses to evaluate the commonalities among successful centers, created a guide of must-have qualities for looking at potential locations and is developing a long term, self-sustaining business plan before they ever spend a dime.

“Right now we’re really focused on creating a business plan, with our first year, three year and five year goals…since this doesn’t exist at all in the diocese, it’s something that we’re going to have to start and then grow once we get into it,” she said. “We’re currently in the process of figuring out that business plan and making sure it all makes sense, what kinds of things are we offering, what kind of staffing will we need in order to do this, what kind of structures will we need, how will the finances and the business support itself. The goal is to create a self-sustaining entity that will serve our people and our diocese without burdening.”

The working group is made up of a diverse group from a variety of backgrounds. A few are youth ministers, involved in Boy Scouts or help run the current youth Camps Savio and Bosco, but the majority have backgrounds in architecture, civil engineering and startup business planning. Such a team can maintain its Faith-oriented mission while creating an effective business model, fundraise, developing a property from existing buildings or from the ground up and successfully launch and run the facility.

One member is Sandra Scheuler, who has helped behind the scenes at the youth camps since their inception. Her husband, Kent, is also on the team and brings insight from both helping with the camps and his business planning work for a large info technology company.

“I think it’s going to be an opportunity to have a place for encountering Jesus at any stage of life…a place of great growth and healing in the diocese,” she said. “I feel very certain God has place these people in this role.”

For more information on the diocesan Vision, visit kcsjcatholic.org/our-vision. To share ideas for the retreat/camp facility, contact a member of the vision implementation team.

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Wednesday
November 20, 2019
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph