The Fellowship of Catholic University StudentsFOCUS
is a national organization that specializes in ministry on college campuses. FOCUS sends teams of missionaries (usually 4, but sometimes 12 and sometimes 2 or 3, we currently have a team of 4+2) out onto colleges across the country to help students foster their faith, encounter Jesus Christ, and teach them to live authentic Catholic lives of service, love and sincerity.
It was founded in 1998 by Curtis Martin & co. Curtis had fallen away from his Catholic faith in college, but met Jesus Christ through missionaries working with CRU (a Protestant on-campus ministry). It wasn’t long before God led Curtis back to the Catholic faith. The experience of falling away from and rejoining the faith led Curtis to start looking into the evangelical efforts of the Catholic Church. He found that there wasn’t much in terms of large-scale evangelical ministry in the US. In his research he found that the most influential place to be was on the American college campus, and the vision for FOCUS began.
The first on-campus ministry was launched at Benedictine College in Atchison, KS. At the time the campus was struggling with its Catholic identity (and was actually listed as one of the top “party schools” in the United States). God’s grace worked through five students and some faculty members and now it is known as one of the top Catholic schools in the nation.
Since 1998, FOCUS has grown to reach 83 campuses with over 400 missionary staff serving the Church nation-wide as well as support and executive staff and our on-campus chaplains. Curtis now sits on a papal council for the New Evangelization and recently attended the 2012 Synod on the New Evangelization last October.
As a missionary family, we have the unique opportunity to also share with college students our Vocation. With the current divorce rate so high, many (or most) of college students today are coming from broken homes. Many do not know what a true marriage Vocation is, or how one can be lived out by young people who choose to follow the Church’s teachings in regards to pre-marital relations, cohabitation, contraception, etc.
In addition to working with the general college population, Andrew works with Varsity Catholic
, a division of FOCUS, that is aimed toward college athletes. As a college athlete himself, he realizes the unique needs and challenges on the field and in the locker room.
While some question the title “missionary”, we really believe that we are involved in the most important missionary field in the western hemisphere. Blessed Mother Teresa spoke often of the spiritual poverty in the west, saying it greatly outweighed the material poverty she faced every day in Calcutta. She would urge the volunteers that flocked to her from the west to go home and work in “their own Calcutta” back in the states (or wherever they were from). While we are not digging wells for fresh water or building churches and schools, we are spending time getting to know each of these college students (as they are all the love of Jesus’ life) and introducing them to a God who is constantly falling in love with them.
How to Get Involved
You can get involved in this mission in so many ways, but here’s a few:
1) Apply to be a missionary yourself! God needs laborers in His harvest and college mission field is ripe with fruit. You can check out the job description and find out more about the application process at apply.focus.org
2) Some can give by going but others can go by giving, so fund a missionary. As missionaries we depend on the generous support of patrons from around the country to fund our salaries; partners that commit to annual and monthly sums in order for us to live and carry out our ministry full-time. There’s hundreds of us missionaries out there. Find out our stories, connect to our mission and join our personal support team. We love this mission and we love spreading this mission and the vision for the New Evangelization. You can give to the organization as a whole or search for specific missionaries , or you can check out our personal support page at focus.org/goto/tomsche
. E-mail me with any questions you may have.
3) The evangelical mission of the Church is for everyone! Check out some of our resources at focusequip.org
and get started sharing with your friends, forming bible studies and investing the members.