DENVER, Colo., July 24, 2017 — For the 2017 – 2018 academic year, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) is adding 15 new campuses, including Iowa State University, Indiana University and University of Southern Mississippi. FOCUS also continues to expand internationally with a new pilot campus at Southampton University in England.
Recent research in the CIRP Freshman Survey shows the dire need for FOCUS missionaries on college campuses. According to their survey, the number of college students with no religious affiliation has tripled in the last 30 years, from 10 percent in 1986 to 31 percent in 2016. Over the same period, the number who attended religious services dropped from 85 percent to 69 percent.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit and with the support of generous benefactors, FOCUS has grown each year since its founding in 1998. This fall, more than 660 missionaries will serve on a total of 137 campuses, where they will share the joy of the gospel through Bible studies, outreach events and 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.
“Our campus ministry has focused on evangelization the past five years, with the help of the Evangelical Catholic,” said Fr. Jon Seda, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Catholic Student Center at Iowa State University. “We have grown so much that we need more people to lead and serve our students. We are thrilled to have FOCUS missionaries join us so we can continue to expand our outreach and deepen our students’ relationship with Jesus.”
Fr. Seda added, “FOCUS is at the heart of the renewal of our Church and is the next step in our goal of becoming one of the best Catholic student centers in the country. I am impressed with the FOCUS missionaries I have met, and it is exciting for us to have young people on our campus who live their Catholic faith with such passion and purpose. Sometimes, we Catholics feel like we are playing defense. Now is the time to go on offense!”
FOCUS missionaries receive intense training on sacred Scripture, prayer and evangelizing peers with love, mercy and truth. While serving on campus, they meet students where they are — both physically and spiritually – inviting them into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. FOCUS missionaries walk with students as they pursue lives of virtue amid the temptations of college life.
FOCUS Founder and CEO Curtis Martin recently penned the white paper “Making Missionary Disciples,” which highlights the three habits that open up the opportunity to transform lives and foster a culture of encounter: Divine Intimacy, Authentic Friendship and Clarity and Conviction about Spiritual Multiplication. The document also explores the three-phased “Method Modeled by the Master” — otherwise known in FOCUS as “win, build, send,” which are echoed in Pope Francis’ terms of encounter, accompaniment and Spirit-filled evangelizers. The document can be downloaded at focus.org/missionarydisciples.
Last year, FOCUS started its first pilot international expansion to Austria and now has missionaries serving at the University of Graz and the University of Vienna. The expansion to University of Southampton in England this year will also be a two-year pilot program, with four FOCUS missionaries from the U.S. serving on campus.
As they do in the U.S., FOCUS works closely with Catholic dioceses, bishops and campus chaplains in each international region to build a foundation for FOCUS to enter onto new campuses.
The following are the new FOCUS campuses:
- Bowling Green University — Bowling Green, Ohio
- Iowa State University — Ames, Iowa
- Indiana University — Bloomington, Ind.
- Kansas State University — Manhattan, Kan.
- Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge — Baton Rouge, La.
- Slippery Rock University — Slippery Rock, Pa.
- University of Nebraska at Kearney — Kearney, Neb.
- University of Rochester — Rochester, N.Y.
- University of Southern Mississippi — Hattiesburg, Miss.
- University of Toledo — Toledo, Ohio
- Valparaiso University — Valparaiso, Ind.
- Western Kentucky University — Bowling Green, Ky.
- Western Michigan University — Kalamazoo, Mich.
- West Chester University — West Chester, Pa.
- Southampton University
Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) was founded in 1998 and
invites 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 2017 – 2018 academic year, more than 660 missionaries are
serving full-time on 137 college campuses, located across 38 U.S. states and at
three international locations (two campuses in Austria and one in England). More than 20,000 students have been involved with FOCUS, who after graduation have the opportunity to move into parish life to continue their missionary work. Within this number, 674 have made decisions to pursue Catholic religious vocations. By 2022, FOCUS expects
— God willing
— to have 75,000 students transitioned 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.