For the 2016 – 2017 academic year, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) has added 12 new domestic campuses, including Brown University, the University of Oregon and the University of Mississippi. More than 550 missionaries are serving on a total of 125 campuses, which include two universities in Austria.
These missionaries are hosting Bible studies and outreach events and sharing the joy of Christ through one-on-one discipleship. FOCUS missionaries are typically recent college graduates who devote two or more years of their post-collegiate lives to reach out to peers on campus.
“I’m most looking forward to having a systematic approach to making connections with students, many of whom may otherwise never meet us,” said Father Nick Blaha, chaplain at one of FOCUS’ new campuses: Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. Fr. Blaha served as a FOCUS missionary from 2003 – 2006, and he has brought several students to FOCUS national conferences in the past. “Having someone to model what I’ve been describing will be so motivating to our students and help grow our local community. People will see the changes.”
Trained in Church teaching, prayer, sacred Scripture, evangelization and discipleship, FOCUS missionaries encounter students in friendship where they are, inviting them into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and accompanying them as they pursue lives of virtue and excellence.
Fr. Blaha added, “I wouldn’t have entered the seminary if it weren’t for FOCUS. Being a missionary is like a trial-run of trust in God. Through poverty, chastity and obedience, I experienced His trustworthiness. I also saw the work of the Holy Spirit firsthand while serving on campus. FOCUS was much smaller when I was a missionary. It’s inspiring to see the cumulative efforts over the years.”
Through the apostolate’s first international expansion, eight FOCUS missionaries — two teams of four each — are serving alongside Austrian missionaries at the University of Graz (Austria) and the University of Vienna (Austria). FOCUS works closely with the Catholic dioceses, bishops and campus chaplains to build a foundation for FOCUS to enter onto new campuses. FOCUS’ collaboration with chaplains and campus ministries at the Austrian universities is part of a two-year pilot program.
The following are the new FOCUS campuses:
- Boise State University — Boise, Idaho
- Brown University — Providence, R.I.
- Emporia State University — Emporia, Kan.
- Idaho State University — Pocatello, Idaho
- McNeese State University — Lake Charles, La.
- Northwestern State Louisiana — Natchitoches, La.
- University of Mississippi — Oxford, Miss.
- University of Idaho — Moscow, Idaho
- University of Oregon — Eugene, Ore.
- University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh — Oshkosh, Wis.
- Washington State University — Pullman, Wash.
- Wichita State University — Wichita, Kan.
- University of Graz
- University of Vienna
FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) was founded in 1998, inviting college students into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church, inspiring and equipping them for a lifetime of Christ-centered evangelization, discipleship and friendships in which they lead others to do the same. During the 2016 – 2017 academic year, more than 550 missionaries are serving full-time on 125 college campuses, located across 38 U.S. states and in two pilot locations in Austria. More than 20,000 FOCUS alumni have been prepared to evangelize parishes throughout the U.S. Within this number, more than 600 have made decisions to pursue Catholic religious vocations. By 2022, FOCUS expects to launch 75,000 alumni into America’s 17,000+ Catholic parishes. FOCUS missionaries are typically recent college graduates who devote two or more years of their post-collegiate lives to reach out to peers on campus. To learn more, visit us at www.focus.org.