DENVER, Colo., Oct. 9, 2019 — In 2009, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) sent missionaries to intentionally encounter students in sororities and fraternities. In 10 years, FOCUS Greek has grown to include more than 150 missionaries, most of whom were involved in the Greek system themselves in college. For the 2019 – 2020 academic year, FOCUS Greek will be present on more than 100 of FOCUS’ 164 campuses, including schools such as the University of Alabama, the University of Mississippi, Iowa State University, the University of California at Berkeley and Washington State University, among others.
FOCUS Greek missionaries encourage Greek students to seek their identity in Christ instead of their Greek letters, academic achievement or extracurricular service accomplishments. Missionaries invest in fraternity and sorority students by developing authentic friendships with them, becoming involved alongside them at philanthropy events and helping them grow in their relationship with Christ through Bible studies, daily Mass and other faith-driven activities. Since its inception, FOCUS Greek has welcomed thousands of participants to Bible studies, including more than 2,600 students during the 2018 – 2019 school year.
FOCUS missionary Hannah Dragonas, who graduated from the University of Vermont in 2017, was involved in the Tri Delta sorority throughout her undergraduate career. As a student, she participated in both a FOCUS Greek Bible study and discipleship. It was through FOCUS Greek that Dragonas realized being a faithful Catholic and an active member of Tri Delta was possible.
“I absolutely loved being in a sorority, but after I converted to Catholicism as a sophomore, I always thought that I had to choose between being Catholic or being a sorority woman,” said Dragonas. “FOCUS Greek showed me that, when I allowed my faith and Greek life to work together, it unlocked a whole new sorority experience.”
Today, Dragonas translates her experience in Greek life as a student to her service as a FOCUS Greek missionary and team director at the University of Maryland. “On campus, I see again and again how students realize that our lives aren’t meant to be separated,” she said. “When they can live the Gospel within their chapters, not only does it allow their friendships to become deep and Christ-centered, but it also gives eternal meaning to the work they do as sorority women. Suddenly, they aren’t bogged down by philanthropy events and date parties, but they are presented with opportunities to share the Gospel and be a light in the darkness.”
The Greek system is rooted in the values of community, academics, philanthropy, integrity and friendship. Many Greek students occupy leadership roles within their sororities/fraternities and in campus organizations such as student government. Mary Warren, an Alpha Delta Pi alumna of West Chester University and current FOCUS Greek missionary at George Mason University, explained that students involved with FOCUS Greek can fulfill their roles with Christ in mind, modeling virtuous behaviors and servant leadership for their peers.
“FOCUS Greek is helping students become anchored in their identity as beloved sons and daughters of the Father,” said Warren. “As a FOCUS missionary, it is my greatest joy to help reveal to students how Jesus is present to them. My hope for FOCUS Greek here on campus is for there to be a radical transformation in the heart of every student involved, living well and serving others only for love of Jesus Christ. I am confident that Jesus is raising up saints within Greek life.”
In addition to Bible studies and campus events, FOCUS Greek partners with FOCUS Missions to host 10 spring break trips for students in the Greek system. Set in locations such as Jamaica, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Peru, Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Mexico City, these mission trips give students the opportunity to serve and share their faith with community members. There have been more than 500 participants on these trips over the last five years.
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. FOCUS has more than 730 missionaries in the field, serving 164 campuses and eight parishes across the U.S. and Europe. Tens of thousands of students have been involved with FOCUS, who after graduation have the opportunity to move into parish life to continue their missionary work. Among these FOCUS alumni, 867 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. focus.org