Update: FOCUS International Conference
Greetings from the Emerald Isle!
After many days of preparation, flying thousands of miles over the U.S. and the Atlantic Ocean and fighting ardently against (and losing to) jetlag, I finally have some time to tell you about the FOCUS International Conference happening now outside of Limerick, Ireland. Students from the UK, Austria, Zimbabwe, Lichtenstein, Ireland and all across America have come together at Glenstal Abbey for a week-long conference. We’re also joined by the Benedictine monks who reside here and several CFRs.
I heard an Irish student say here that pictures can’t do justice to the beautiful landscape of Ireland. The sunshine, which comes infrequently but is always welcome, illuminates the miles and miles countryside with innumerable shades of green. It’s breath taking, really.
And in the same way that a picture would not do justice to the beauty of the country, my words cannot do justice to the incredible experience the conference has been thus far.
While we’ve heard from our president and founder Curtis Martin, celebrated Mass with Archbishop Charles Brown (the papal nuncio to Ireland) and listened to talks from amazing Catholic leaders, including Dr. Jonathan Reyes from the Augustine Institute, I’ve been struck most by the connections which have been made and discovered.
Some students are here because they went to the conference in Spain last year. Some are here because they heard about last year’s conference and wanted to be a part of the community. Some are here because they thought Ireland would be a cool place to visit (and they’re right). Whatever the reason, one thing has brought us together: a love for Jesus Christ and His Church. It’s this love which transcends boundaries and breaks barriers, even language barriers.
I’ve already learned so much from students from other countries. For example, the Sound of Music didn’t lie: Austrians can sing…really well. It rains most of the time in Ireland. And Americans say “awesome” more than any other group of people. Mostly, I’ve learned I take a lot of things and people for granted in the U.S.
We just don’t know how blessed we are to be around such vibrancy of the faith, even though at times it can seem like we’re the only ones. One student who studies in the UK told me, “It’s hard! I want to be in America where everything is happening!” It’s true. Great things ARE happening in America, but the extraordinary thing is, it’s happening here, too. A little slowly and with a small group of people, but there is no doubt that God is working here. When light shines, darkness has no choice but to flee.
Please pray for the remainder of the conference, especially for our pilgrimage to Mt. Crough and the shrine of Our Lady of Knock. More updates, pictures and student testimonies to come!
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Update: FOCUS International Conference
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Since the pontificates of Pope Paul VI and John Paul II, the Roman Catholic Church has been commissioned to engage and embrace the world with God's message of love once more with ‘new methods, new ardor and new expression.’ It has come to be phrased, 'the new evangelization.'
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