DENVER, Oct. 25, 2018 — Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS is investing greater resources into outreach to students with diverse backgrounds. Jeff Runyan, a 13-year FOCUS missionary, who has a background in FOCUS’ international mission work, has taken on an additional role as Interim Director for Diversity. In his expanded role, Runyan works with others both inside and outside of FOCUS to develop best practices for outreach initiatives.
Runyan also oversees training staff in cross cultural outreach at New Staff Training (NST), inviting experts to share insights with missionaries on effectively engaging with ethnically diverse students on campus. Recent NST speakers include Fr. Rafael Capó of Miami, Florida, and Deacon Adrian Ng of Malaysia.
“The diversity efforts of FOCUS touch every part of the apostolate, from our staff training to our Bible studies to our conferences,” said Runyan. “The Body of Christ encompasses the diversity of the world. It is critical that our outreach is able to effectively mirror the beauty of this diversity.”
Runyan, who is fluent in Spanish and has lived and studied in Latin America, was invited to be a delegate at the V American Missionary Congress in Bolivia in July, which discussed "The joy of the Gospel, the heart of the prophetic mission, source of reconciliation and communion." FOCUS also was a sponsor of the recent V Encuentro conference in Grapevine, Texas.
SEEK2019, the national FOCUS event Jan. 3 – 7, 2019, will feature several Hispanic speakers along with bilingual and Spanish-specific sessions. Fr. Capó will lead a session exploring the experiences of Hispanic young adults and their calling to missionary discipleship. Ana Glaze, former FOCUS missionary and co-founder of That Catholic Couple on YouTube, will present a seminar in Spanish about the challenges of being a young Hispanic Catholic, as well as how to share the faith with friends and family.
FOCUS has been translating some Bible studies into Spanish for the past few years ago and continues to encourage missionaries to disciple students in the language most comfortable for them. Priscilla Garza was a FOCUS missionary at University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University. Most of her Bibles studies and discipleship conversations were in Spanish.
During her two years on campus, Garza shared the Gospel with more than 50 students in Spanish Bible studies and discipled 11 of them. Two of her disciples are now FOCUS missionaries, and three are interviewing this year to join the apostolate in 2019. Each week on FOCUS Instagram, Garza hosts "FOCUS en Español" a live series covering topics such as “Our Identity as Sons and Daughters of God.”
"God, our Father, desires for all of His Children to come home to Him, and He knows the hearts of His children and how different each of us are,” said Garza, who is now a Missions Specialist with FOCUS Missions. “He has gifted each of us a family and a culture and knows how significantly that culture has and will continue to shape each of our hearts. If we truly want to meet our students where they are at, we must be willing to be courageous and step out of our comfort zones into their cultures. We must embrace diversity so that we may love those in front of us as they have been formed to loved."
The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) was founded in 1998. The apostolate 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. Throughout the 2018 – 2019 academic year, nearly 700 missionaries serve full-time on 153 college campuses, including 19 expansion campus. The schools are located across 42 U.S. states and at five international locations (two in Austria, one in England, one in Germany and one in Ireland). Tens of thousands of students have been involved with FOCUS, who after graduation have the opportunity to move into parish life and continue their missionary work. Within this number, 732 have made decisions to pursue Catholic religious vocations. By 2022, FOCUS expects — God willing — to have 75,000 students transitioned into many of 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.