DENVER, Oct. 24, 2017 — In celebration of the USCCB National Vocations Awareness Week (NVAW) held Nov. 5 – 11, Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) social media channels will highlight FOCUS alumni who are now serving as priests. The posts will be shared at Facebook.com/focuscatholic and @focuscatholic.
More than 24,000 students have been involved with FOCUS, and within this number, 674 have made decisions to pursue Catholic religious vocations – 144 women and 530 men. Of this total, 40 percent have made those decisions in the past four years. In fact, as of 2016, more than 25 percent of religious women in the U.S. under the age of 40 were involved with FOCUS (CARA – Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, CARA).
The University of Colorado Boulder is in one of the least religious cities in the U.S.* Despite the secular culture, the campus has produced much fruit thanks to the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center (St. Tom’s) and FOCUS missionaries working hand in hand to share the love of Christ and truth of the Gospel with thousands of students each year. FOCUS started serving part-time at CU Boulder in 1999.
Since 2013, 16 men and two women involved with FOCUS at St. Tom’s have made decisions to pursue Catholic religious vocations. Fr. Shaun Galvin is a CU Boulder alum, served as a FOCUS missionary for three years and is now the parochial vicar at St. Tom’s. This past weekend, the campus ministry held their biannual Buffalo Awakening (BA) retreat, which brought more than 130 students together for faith and fellowship.
“When I was a student, the BA retreat sparked my desire to make God a part of my daily life,” said Fr. Galvin. “The active campus ministry with FOCUS missionaries gave me an opportunity to develop my faith and relationship with Christ. I started going to Bible study, which taught me about the Catholic faith and truths that I never knew or had forgotten.”
“It is pivotal for students to develop a community of faith in a large, secular university such as CU,” added Fr. Galvin. “It was crucial for me to have good friends who were positive influences. Those friends, especially the men, encouraged me to discern my vocation. At FOCUS New Staff Training after my first year as a missionary, God made it absolutely clear that it was His will for me to become a priest.”
In addition to Fr. Galvin, more than 20 CU Boulder alumni have become FOCUS missionaries. Since 2013, more than 500 students at the university have been involved with 177 Bible studies led by FOCUS missionaries and students on campus. This semester alone, 33 Bible studies are helping hundreds of students grow closer to Christ and learn how to share His truth with others.
FOCUS missionaries work alongside campus chaplains and campus ministers at the colleges and universities they serve. In addition to these many chaplains around the country, FOCUS also has seven national chaplains who offer pastoral care and support both on campuses and from the national office. More information can be found at focus.org/chaplains.
The 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 four international locations (two campuses in Austria, one in England and one in Ireland). More than 24,000 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 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.