DENVER, April 28, 2021 — FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) and Knights of Columbus (K of C) have partnered many times over the past two decades on initiatives to strengthen the faith and evangelical spirit of Catholic men. In 2020, K of C highlighted several FOCUS staff as part of their Into the Breach series. The April 2021 issue of Columbia magazine shares stories of FOCUS missionaries and alumni who have been involved with K of C.
Launched in February 2020, Into the Breach has inspired thousands of Catholics through the 12-episode video series which addresses challenges facing modern men in their spiritual journeys. The series was inspired by Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s 2015 document, “Into the Breach: An Apostolic Exhortation to Catholic Men,” which called men to be prepared for the spiritual battle for their souls and the souls of their families.
Into the Breach builds on the success of the K of C’s Everyday Heroes series that focused on remarkable Knights whose courage, faith and commitment to charity show that heroism is attainable to the everyday man.
Over the past year, many K of C councils watched and discussed the series with members using the accompanying study guide. Thousands watched it online through social media or as it aired on EWTN. Since many people have been isolated and unable to attend Mass in the past year, the series provided a link to faith formation and online community with others. The series is now available in Spanish and French.
FOCUS staff highlighted in the Into the Breach series include the following:
· Curtis Martin, featured in the videos on Leadership, Fatherhood, Prayer, and Brotherhood
· Thomas Wurtz, interviewed for the videos on Masculinity, Prayer, Fatherhood, Spiritual Warfare, Evangelization, Leadership, Life, and Suffering
· Ben Mattern, featured in the Brotherhood video
· Mark Bartek, interviewed for the videos on Prayer, Family, Evangelization and the Cornerstone
The Into the Breach series and study guide are online: kofc.org/en/campaigns/into-the-breach.
Most recently, the April 2021 issue of Columbia magazine includes the article “On a Mission from God,” which shares the transformational stories of three FOCUS missionaries and two FOCUS alumni. Each man discussed how being a missionary and a Knight has helped them evangelize on campus, in workplaces and within families.
“When I was a missionary, being a Knight connected me to faithful men who wanted to make a positive impact on the community around them,” said Eli Kresta, who served as a FOCUS missionary from 2016 to 2020 and is now a high school teacher and personal trainer in El Campo, Texas. He’s a member of the Archbishop Drossaerts Council 2490 in El Campo.
“FOCUS changed how I interact with the world around me and how I see myself,” said Kresta about the impact of FOCUS on his worldview and zeal for evangelization. “Prayer is now an indispensable part of my day, and I now know that the greatest achievement is to attain heaven and to help others do the same.”
Santonio Hill served as a FOCUS missionary from 2014 to 2018 and now works with Vagabond Missions in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is a member of St. Michael’s Council 2065 in Ridge, Maryland. Hill was first introduced to the Knights of Columbus when he was in seminary and shared, “My K of C experience bore direct fruit in the mission on campus. The men I was leading also wanted to become Knights, and I took road trips with them to their exemplifications, which allowed us to grow deeper in discipleship with God.”
Hill reflected on his time as a missionary: “FOCUS helped me learn how to journey with others as I share the faith — not just preach truth and leave … Jesus and his disciples showed us that the way to evangelize is by investing in a few people, whom you teach and inspire to do the same for others.”
“I became a FOCUS missionary to bring more men into a strong relationship with Christ, helping them to develop a prayer life and discover that Jesus desires a personal relationship with them,” said Philip Paulson, who leads the FOCUS team at Drexel University and served as a grand knight of George Washington University Council 13242. He joined the Knights in college because he was looking for a good community and had fond memories of volunteering at Lenten fish fries hosted by his home council. “The Knights gave me the experience of walking with Catholic men toward Christ.”
Aaron Filzen served as a grand knight of Minnesota State University Council 16408 and on the College Councils Advisory Board. Filzen’s father is a Knight, so he knew about the Knights growing up. After experiencing Greek life on campus, Filzen realized men on campus were starving for authentic Christian brotherhood. He worked with the campus chaplain to start a college council and shared, “The Knights gave us a platform for brotherhood across the Newman Center and into the community.”
Filzen currently serves as a FOCUS missionary at North Dakota State University, where he says, “sharing the faith effectively requires three things: to seek the truth rather than trying to ‘win’ a debate; to listen intently rather than responding right away; and finally, to ask good questions.”
Daniel Rosa, a FOCUS missionary serving at Texas A&M-Kingsville, is a member and past grand knight of St. John Paul II Council 1582 at Southern Methodist University, his alma mater. In the article, he shared, “After going on a FOCUS mission trip to Peru, I really couldn’t picture my life outside of service, centered on the healing of the human person and one’s relationship with God. I eventually applied to become a missionary, to invite students back into communion with the Church and walk with them in discipleship.”
Rosa was invited to join the Order during his first year at SMU. He later attended the College Councils Conference. He said, “Being a Knight taught me how to serve the Church and others in fraternity with my brothers in Christ. Today, we invite students into missionary discipleship, combining all of our activities into a unified effort.”
The April 2021 issue of Columbia magazine is online: kofc.org/un/en/news-room/columbia.
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. For the 2020 – 2021 academic year, FOCUS has nearly 800 missionaries in the field, serving 171 campuses and nine 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. An important blessing of a fruitful partnership between the local campus ministry and FOCUS has been the pursuit of religious vocations. Over the past 20 years, 959 people have entered the seminary or a religious house of formation after involvement with FOCUS on college campuses. 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
About Knights of Columbus
The Knights of Columbus is one of the world’s leading fraternal and service organizations, with two million members in more than 16,000 parish-based councils. During the past year, Knights around the world donated more than 77 million service hours and $187 million for worthy causes in their communities. The organization also offers extensive life insurance services to members and their families, resulting in more than $114 billion of life insurance in force. Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors offers investment services to individuals and institutions in accord with Catholic social teachings. From helping children in need, to providing wheelchairs for the disabled, to helping stock food banks, to offering top-rated and affordable insurance products to its members, the Knights of Columbus has supported families and communities for more than 138 years. kofc.org