DENVER, May 20, 2019 — The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) hosted the fifth annual Go Forth commissioning event May 13 – 17 near Denver to prepare departing and transitioning missionaries for lifelong Catholic mission in parish life and the workplace. The weeklong event equipped them with FOCUS formation and training to be faithful and fruitful after serving on campus.
More than 120 missionaries attended Go Forth, which included world-class training on how to be effective missionary disciples in families, parishes, workplaces and communities. An experienced career counselor provided tips on mastering interview skills and creating résumés that highlighted the valuable skills learned during their time on campus such as leadership, critical thinking and communication. They developed and honed these skills through outreach to students on campus while maintaining relationships with mission partners to fundraise their salaries.
“Attending Go Forth was an experience that walked me gently through the process of transitioning out of FOCUS,” said Gretchen McLaughlin, who served as a FOCUS missionary for three years, first at Drake University and then the University of North Dakota. She graduated from the University of South Dakota in 2016 with a B.S. in addiction studies and psychology. McLaughlin recently accepted a position as a chemical dependency counselor at the SD State Penitentiary.
“I feel more a part of the FOCUS family than ever because I feel equipped to take mission to a new level in the workplace and parish life. I am grateful for Go Forth for many reasons but specifically for the opportunity to create closure in the end of my time with FOCUS.”
McLaughlin continued, “The past three years as a missionary have prepared me well to move into the workplace, especially as a chemical dependency counselor. I will be working with inmates who are in dark places in their lives; because of my time as a missionary, I am equipped to reverence their humanity and to walk with them gently as they recover from their addictions. Outside of the workplace, I feel equipped to be bold in meeting new people in my future parish. This boldness is a skill I did not have before becoming a missionary.”
Kyle Doud served his first year as a missionary at McNeese State University and then spent his second year at Northwest Missouri State University. Since 1998, 732 FOCUS alumni have made decisions to enter religious life. Doud will be entering Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis for the Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma.
“Through Go Forth, Jesus has affirmed me for my participation in His mission with FOCUS,” said Doud. “My experience on this retreat continues my overall interaction with FOCUS—prayerful, grateful care. I’ve been equipped and encouraged to bring spiritual multiplication to the seminary next year, where God will impact the lives and ministries of countless future priests.”
Andrew Furphy spent five years with FOCUS and attended Go Forth. In his new role with the Diocese of Boise, Furphy will oversee campus ministries and be the administrator at St. Paul's Catholic Student Center at Boise State University, where he served as a FOCUS missionary for the past four years.
“Go Forth has helped me have vision of what my next mission field is to live out spiritual multiplication,” said Furphy. “It also gave me the freedom to know that what I do is less important than responding to what the Lord has put in front of me, taking away fear and anxiety and replacing it with courage and excitement to move forward.”
FOCUS Alumni department equips those whom FOCUS has formed, involved or
impacted to build up disciple-makers in the family, parish and workplace.
Resources on connect.focus.org include a job board, networking
opportunities for advice and connections with others across the country.
Two new mission trips hosted by FOCUS Missions invited FOCUS alumni and other young adults to serve others and experience an encounter with Christ in the poor. More than 20 participants served alongside partner apostolate Hope of the Poor on the Mexico City trip April 11 – 15. The Young Adult Peru mission trip is June 14 – 24.
FOCUS Alumni hosted more than 30 alumni events to help alumni stay connected in regions such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, New York City and several more.
FOCUS Alumni has managed the Lifelong Mission Track at national FOCUS conferences. More than 1,700 people participated on the track at SEEK2019, including 800 alumni. Many alumni are expected to attend SLS20 Dec. 30, 2019 – Jan. 3, 2020. Registration is open at sls20.org.
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 2018 – 2019 academic year, nearly 700 missionaries are serving full-time on 153 college campuses, located across 42 U.S. states and at five international locations. 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, 732 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