DENVER, Nov. 4, 2021 — Since 2004, more than 13,000 college students, chaplains and FOCUS missionaries have served on over 1,000 FOCUS mission trips around the world, making FOCUS Missions the largest Catholic missions program. During last year’s program, despite restrictions of the pandemic, FOCUS Missions sent over 1,100 participants on more than 60 trips, many of which were in the U.S.
For the 2021 – 2022 academic year, FOCUS Missions will host 150 mission trips around the world, partnering with local religious orders, apostolates and organizations that understand their communities’ greatest needs. College students, missionaries, alumni and chaplains on FOCUS mission trips serve the poor and share the message of the Gospel. Examples of service projects include providing patient care services at medical clinics, serving the homeless and building and renovating community infrastructure. FOCUS Missions anticipates that more than 2,300 participants will serve on trips in the next year. The deadline to apply for Spring Break trips is Nov. 30. Applications for Summer trips are due by Feb. 15, 2022. More information is at focusmissions.org.
Megan Henle, a FOCUS missionary who served at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, led a Summer 2021 mission trip to Omaha, Nebraska. “We served alongside Hope of the Poor to offer cocoa and coffee to their homeless neighbors. We shared life and prayed with many people. We tried to bring the light of Christ to these wonderful souls, who brought so much joy and perspective to our mission.”
New FOCUS mission trip locations include a Spring Break trip to Suriname to serve with the Servidora Sisters (Mar. 25 – April 3). Participants on the new trip to Romania will serve along with the Missionaries of Charity (Mar. 4 – Mar. 13). Two new locations in California offer both an opportunity in San Francisco to help the Missionaries of Charity (Mar. 11 – 20) and a special California Missions Pilgrimage (Mar. 11 – 20).
Popular trip locations include Brazil (Petropolis and Amazon trips), Mexico and the Holy Land. FOCUS Missions coordinates several FOCUS Greek trips and Varsity Catholic Mission Camps for student-athletes. Medical mission trips to Peru, Argentina and Texas give students in the medical field an opportunity to share their skills and the love of Christ. A full list of trips is at focusmissions.org.
In addition to serving the local community, FOCUS mission trips encourage missionary discipleship. After a FOCUS mission team visited Annabelle Joy Siril’s hometown in Malaysia, one of the missionaries stayed in touch with her. From thousands of miles away, she helped Annabelle discover the purpose God has for her life. “I felt God calling me to leave my home country to be a missionary with FOCUS so others may come to know Him,” reflected Siril, who now serves as a FOCUS missionary at the University of California, Los Angeles.
FOCUS Missions prioritizes safety for participants on any mission trip and offers trips to locations only after they have been researched and vetted with people on the ground. Other precautions FOCUS Missions takes include consulting government agencies, such as the U.S. State Department, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and the Center for Disease Control regarding traveler health. FOCUS Missions also has a number of resources dedicated to promoting safety and mitigating risk, including paying for a security consultant to monitor the safety of all trip locations, training every Mission Director in safety and risk management at the international Mission Director Leadership Summit, taking out insurance policies for each trip and equipping staff and students with safety guidelines at trip orientation.
FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) 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. For the 2021 – 2022 academic year, nearly 800 FOCUS missionaries are serving at 205 locations, which includes 22 parish venues across the U.S. and seven international campuses. FOCUS alumni, now nearly 40,000 strong, are living and serving in parishes and communities across the country. By 2026, FOCUS expects to have more than 70,000 alumni. An important blessing of a fruitful partnership between the local campus ministry and FOCUS has been the pursuit of religious vocations. Since 1998, more than 1,000 people have entered the seminary or a religious house of formation after involvement with FOCUS on college campuses. FOCUS expects to nearly double that number in the next five years. 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