After 3 amazing years serving on campus at the University of California, Santa Barbara I am excited to now be working as an Event Specialist on the FOCUS Events Team. I am especially grateful to begin this new role along with my other new role of "mom"! Elijah Gabriel Smith was born on July 9th and Mike and I are so in love with our little boy!
I will work remotely for our Events Team while living in Santa Barbara as I balance motherhood. Since I will still be in Santa Barbara and St. Mark's, the UCSB University Parish, will be our home parish, I am excited to see how the Lord uses my vocation as a witness to the students and community. Amidst the beautiful ocean and clear blue skies of Santa Barbara, there is a desperate need for God’s love as students try to fill their hearts with the things of this world and are ending up deeply unfulfilled. The need here is a constant reminder of the need across all colleges and universities which is inspiration for me as I work in my new role.
Working for a role within the Support Center, the mission is to serve and support the missionaries as they work on the front lines of college campuses. Each department serves the mission with the goal of contributing to the larger work of the New Evangelization through service to the missionaries. How cool that I get to work in Events for an organization that I love so dearly with the soul purpose of bringing souls to know and love Jesus Christ and His Church!
Above: Our new family the day Elijah was born!
Above: Loving on our little guy!
Above: my amazing new team for the 2016-'17 school year!! Our team has even increased from 4 to 5 missionaries because of how much our movement on campus has grown!
Above: Just a few of the incredible women I get to walk with towards Christ!
Above: With our Chaplain, Father John Love (far left), and Bishop Robert Barron!
Above: Our students at SEEK2017, FOCUS' National Conference held in San Antonio this past January. I would not be a FOCUS Missionary if I had not attended SEEK 2013 and I know that this conference was life changing for many of our students as well. Over 13,000 people attended this year's SEEK and it was incredible to see hearts being changed and set on fire for Christ!
Above: Our pastor, Father Love, showing off more of his serious side this Ash Wednesday!
Above: At our 2nd annual Beloved Dinner! This event is a wonderful evening where the men of St. Mark's host a lovely dinner for their sisters in Christ. The women get dressed up and are served a delicious meal just to honor who they are as Beloved daughters of God. This year we had about 120 women who attended!
Above: Our students at SLS 2016 (Student Leadership Summit), FOCUS' National Conference January 2016. At SLS, our students got to hear from world-renowned Catholic speakers and were trained in evangelization tools that they could bring back to campus in order to spread our faith!
Above: UCSB Students at the Los Angeles One Life Walk for Life supporting the Pro-Life Movement!
Above: Every Wednesday morning at 7am we do a rosary walk through different parts of campus in order to pray for different groups (Greeks, Athletes, Academics, Dorms, etc.) to come to have an encounter with Christ. Our students love the sacrifice of getting up early in order to intercede for those most lost on campus!
Above: This past February 2017, FOCUS hosted a Spiritual Impact Bootcamp Retreat in Cyprus, CA. We brought 30 of our students from UCSB, where they were able to grow in a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit, as well as experience healing and discernment of their spiritual gifts. It has been extremely fruitful back on campus seeing them desire to foster a culture of praying with one another and a deeper desire to evangelize their peers.
During my time as an undergraduate student at the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO I was introduced to the personal love Christ has for me and the authentic joy that comes from living a life centered around Him. Before truly encountering Christ, it always felt like there was something missing in my life. The college experience and moments of "fun" were always fleeting and left me unfulfilled. After my encounter with Christ during an awakening retreat I knew that I wanted to place Jesus at the center of my life but I wasn't sure how. It wasn't until my senior year when a FOCUS missionary shared her life with me that I was able to fully understand how to live out my Catholic faith. I fully surrendered my heart to Jesus and experienced the most profound graces I ever had in my life - peace, love, healing, authentic friendship and true joy. As a missionary, my greatest desire is to lead all students to Christ. My life has been transformed by Jesus and I want nothing more than to bring this joy to others and introduce them to the life-changing message of the Gospel. In His ministry on earth, Jesus humbled Himself to meet us on our level, taking on our humanity, and spent most of His time investing deeply in a few. I look to Jesus’ own example to find the best method of reaching the world. Since I'm originally from California, I have been able to understand the culture here in order to relate to the students at UCSB and I've been constantly amazed by the different souls I've encountered on campus. The women that I have been working with here at UCSB have enriched my life in more ways than I count and for that I am truly grateful!
Above: Tabling for Welcome Week!
Above: Just some of our student leaders with our awesome pastor, Father Love!
Above: FOCUS Mission Trips! This past school year I directed a spring break mission trip to Honduras where we served alongside the Missioners of Christ. From our group of 14 students, 5 missionaries and 1 priest, we actually had 7 students just from UCSB! The trip was an incredible experience that transformed the lives of our students, coming back to campus desiring to live for Christ in a new and radical way!
Above: My husband, Mike and I! We entered into the Sacrament of Matrimony on August 6th, 2016! Please for us in our vocation that the Lord would bless our marriage especially as we witness to the students what a Christ centered relationship is like.
Above: Baby Smith coming July 2017! Please pray for a healthy pregnancy and for baby. We are beyond excited for this new chapter in our lives!
When I answered the call to join FOCUS, I made the decision to rely on the spiritual and financial support of mission partners to help me through this mission. I would like to invite you to join me in this mission through financial support and by lifting me up in prayer to fulfill Christ's call to "make disciples of all nations." Thus far, I've been blessed with the most amazing people who have journeyed with me as I serve on campus. Some give by going but others go by giving. This invitation is a great way to enter in to this journey with me. Through generous support and people like you I will be able to devote my time and energy in order to bring the light of Christ to the thousands of college students at UCSB. If you are interested in partnering with me, please let me know of the best way to reach you and I will schedule an appointment. I'd be honored to share this mission with you.
We encounter God in an intimate relationship through daily prayer, the sacraments and the Scriptures.
By building genuine friendships, we meet students on a deeper level.
We teach students how to share the gospel, who in turn teach other students how to pass it on …