DENVER, Sept. 24, 2019 — For the 2019 – 2020 academic year, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) is partnering with 14 new campus ministries at schools across the country, including the University of Illinois at Chicago, Texas A&M University at Kingsville and the United States Air Force Academy. FOCUS is also adding another international location at the University of Bonn in Bonn, Germany, making a total of five international FOCUS programs across Germany, Austria, England and Ireland.
More than 730 FOCUS missionaries will serve on 164 campuses this year, along with eight parish locations. Through Bible studies, outreach events, mission trips and discipleship, missionaries inspire and build up others in the faith, sending them forth to live out lifelong Catholic mission in their families, friendships, workplaces, parishes and communities.
At college campuses, FOCUS missionaries work alongside the schools’ Catholic center staff as they encounter students on campus and welcome them into the existing Catholic student community. Missionaries encourage students to deepen their faith by participating in the sacraments and pursuing Christ more intentionally in their daily lives. For many students, their relationships with missionaries help them grow in virtue and make Christ-centered decisions on matters of faith, vocations, relationships and more.
Fr. Jon Seda of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, previously served as a campus chaplain for Iowa State University, a FOCUS campus. He now serves as the director of the St. Stephen the Witness Catholic Student Center at the University of Northern Iowa, one of FOCUS’ new campuses for the 2019 – 2020 school year.
“During my time at Iowa State University, I brought FOCUS to join us and saw a great increase in the width and depth of our outreach to students,” said Fr. Seda. “Now I am at the University of Northern Iowa, and I am excited FOCUS was able to join us this fall. The missionaries are full of energy, devotion and joy, and that is already bearing good fruit in our students.”
Before bringing a team of missionaries to a new university, FOCUS leadership meets with the bishop of the local diocese and the campus chaplain to discuss the viability and sustainability of initiating a partnership. Only after securing the support of the bishop, chaplains and campus ministry staff does FOCUS send missionaries to the campus to coordinate with the campus ministry’s efforts to introduce students to the Catholic community and form them for lifelong missionary discipleship.
For the 2018 – 2019 school year, FOCUS sent five missionaries to encounter students at the University of Iowa, during which time staff at UI’s Newman Center said they saw growth in their campus ministry. Christine Wissink, director of Outreach and Education at the UI Newman Center, said she has enjoyed having FOCUS missionaries on campus and has seen a more positive atmosphere as more students go deeper in prayer, participate in sacraments, study Scripture and build community. “[FOCUS missionaries] bring a new energy and prayerfulness,” said Wissink. “They are really the boots on the ground for us.”
The following are the new FOCUS campus locations for 2019 – 2020:
· Assumption College — Worcester, Massachusetts
· East Carolina University — Greenville, North Carolina
· The University of Illinois at Chicago — Chicago, Illinois
· Bridgewater State University — Bridgewater, Massachusetts
· Edinboro University — Edinboro, Pennsylvania
· The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga — Chattanooga, Tennessee
· Central Connecticut State University — New Britain, Connecticut
· Fort Hays State University — Hays, Kansas
· United States Air Force Academy — Colorado Springs, Colorado
· Coastal Carolina University — Conway, South Carolina
· Texas A&M University Kingsville — Kingsville, Texas
· University of Northern Iowa — Cedar Falls, Iowa
· University of Washington — Seattle, Washington
· University of Bonn — Bonn, Germany
FOCUS parish missionaries will also serve Catholic parishes in eight different states this next year:
· St. James Parish — Arlington Heights, Illinois
· Christ the King Parish — Tulsa, Oklahoma
· St. John the Evangelist Parish — Jackson, Mississippi
· St. John Neumann Parish — Charlotte, North Carolina
· Immaculate Conception of Dardenne — Dardenne Prairie, Missouri
· Church of the Magdalen — Wichita, Kansas
· St. Juliana Falconieri Parish — Fullerton, California
· The Diocese of Spokane, Washington
More information about FOCUS’ campuses can be found online at focusoncampus.org/find-my-campus.
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 8 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