Sara Engle
Sara Engle
Sara Engle of St. Joseph-St. Francis Xavier Parish in Roseburg tries to instill hope in Catholic youths on a daily basis as a missionary for Spiritus Ministries.

Spiritus is a team of Catholics in their 20s who donate nine months to serve the church. The ministry, based in Menasha, Wisconsin, aims to inspire Catholic youths throughout Wisconsin via retreats and youth ministry while forming lifelong missionary disciples and leaders for the church.

Engle is one of 12 missionaries from around the country who joined Spiritus in its 12th year.

Eden and Katherine Foord, founders and directors of Spiritus, welcome a new team of missionaries each year. “Young adult Catholics are vital to inspiring the youth to follow Jesus and encounter God's love,” the Foords said.

They claim Spiritus has the power to change lives: the lives of those whom the missionaries encounter and the lives of the missionaries themselves.

Engle and the rest of the Spiritus missionaries work to become examples of Catholics who grow in holiness, spread the Gospel and deliver the message that hope lies in Jesus. The idea is that the missionaries’ loving and passionate discipleship resonates with youths and energizes them to do their part in renewing the life of the church.

The primary way Spiritus missionaries seek to achieve the goal is through more than 150 retreats held each year for more than 5,000 Catholic youths. One of the retreats offered this year is called Finding Hope.

“I have witnessed so many beautiful moments with the students during our retreats, but the one that sticks out in my mind the most is when I was able to pray one-on-one with a female student during her confirmation retreat,” Engle said. “After we had finished praying together, she looked up at me with the biggest smile on her face, and although we were both wearing masks and I could only see the top half of her face, I felt the overwhelming joy and peace that the Holy Spirit had given her radiating outward from her heart. Moments like those are not only very impactful for the students we work with but also incredible blessings the Lord gives us missionaries to keep us going through the difficult times.”

Team members are formed through prayer, spiritual direction, service, and weekly formation courses. During their nine months, Engle and the other missionaries will spend more than 500 hours in prayer, about 150 hours in leadership formation, around 130 hours in ministry training, and more than 400 hours in direct ministry to Catholic youths.

It all happens in the context of Christian communal living, which Engle calls “exciting, loving, and joyful.” She feels transformed.

“I am so grateful for all the opportunities for faith formation that are given to us,” she said. “In the past six months, I have grown so much closer to the Lord because of this spiritual enrichment, and I have been able to understand how deeply and tenderly he loves me and all his blessed children. There is such a special grace of knowing the depth of my need for the Lord’s infinite mercy and love.”

Since its start in 2009, Spiritus has seen 21 alumni go on to pursue religious life or priesthood, and 59 are presently working in ministry.

The work isn’t always easy. Spending almost a year away from family and friends while working six days a week can take its toll. Eden Foord has asked for prayers and support for Sara and the other missionaries.

Learn more

spiritusministries.org

To contact Sara Engel, email saraengle@spiritusministries.org.

Youths interested in joining Spiritus can contact rachelvanhandel@spiritusministries.org.