DENVER, Oct. 31, 2017 — The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) inspires young adults to serve others through FOCUS mission trips and other opportunities around the world and in their local communities. During the 2017 – 2018 academic year, FOCUS Missions will host more than 130 trips in nearly 50 countries. New locations for FOCUS Missions this year include Albania, Poland, Uganda, Uruguay and Southeast Asia. Spring break trip applications are due Nov. 30, and summer trips applications are due Jan. 15, 2018.
In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis reflects on the connection between serving others and spiritual conversion: “[N]one of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and for social justice: Spiritual conversion, the intensity of the love of God and neighbor, zeal for justice and peace, the Gospel meaning of the poor and of poverty, are required of everyone” (para. 201).
Monique Brunello, a senior at UCLA, has participated in three FOCUS mission trips and reflected on her life-changing experiences. "The FOCUS mission trip to Brazil rocked my world. We visited different homes and were often met with arms literally wide open. I will never forget the words of a fragile, elderly woman who told me, ‘Come in. I may be poor, but I’m rich in love.’”
"I had always known about God and believed Him to be true, but I lacked a personal and intimate relationship with Him,” said Brunello, who became a FOCUS student leader and is also the president of the pro-life club on campus. “After going to daily Mass, praying a holy hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament each day and encountering Christ for myself, I realized that a personal relationship with Christ was attainable, and I wanted one."
Since 2004, more than 7,000 college students and FOCUS missionaries have served on more than 400 mission trips around the world, reaching out to some of the most impoverished people on the planet and cultivating a heart for the poor. Notably, most trips result in one participant entering a religious vocation after their mission trip experience. Some of the projects include the following:
· Patient care services at medical clinics in Argentina and the Philippines
· Corporal works of mercy to the sick and dying in Cambodia, Ecuador, Haiti, Jamaica, Kolkata, Mexico and India
· Homeless ministries in Colombia, New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago
· The building or renovation of 17 homes in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru and the Philippines
· The building or renovation of 13 churches and schools in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Yucatán of Mexico
· Established sports camps for youth in the Dominican Republic, Panama, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia and Trinidad & Tobago
FOCUS Missions coordinates several FOCUS Greek trips and sports camps for student-athletes in conjunction with Varsity Catholic. Medical mission trips to Peru, Argentina and Uganda give students in the medical field an opportunity to share their medical skills and the love of Christ. A full list of trips is at focusoncampus.org/missions.
Many benefactors help change the lives of students and those whom they serve by supporting them on mission. The donation page is at https://focusoncampus.org/missions/donate.
As part of its effort to inspire and encourage young Catholics to get involved and serve others, FOCUS recently partnered with Catholic Charities in 10 cities around the country to host fundraising and awareness events in conjunction with the opening of the new Pure Flix/Paramount film, Same Kind of Different as Me. Based on a true story, the movie dramatizes how a connection with a homeless man positively impacted the life of not just one family, but the entire city of Fort Worth, Texas.
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.