DENVER, Feb. 26, 2019 — The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) sends thousands of participants on FOCUS mission trips each year. Most are college students, but the trips also include chaplains and FOCUS staff. Spring break is the most popular time for trips, and this year will include 84 FOCUS mission trips.
Throughout the 2018 – 2019 academic year, the apostolate is coordinating nearly 140 trips in more than 40 countries, including new trips to Lithuania and Portugal along with expanded opportunities in Albania, Appalachia, Honduras and Mexico. Recently, more than 30 students served in remote parts of Panama to bring the spirit of World Youth Day through fellowship and catechesis.
FOCUS Missions strives to make a positive impact on both the communities that are served and those who go on mission. All programs are established at the suggestion of local clergy or lay missionaries who understand the needs of a given community.
Mission trips reflect the social teachings and truths of the Catholic faith and follow Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s appeal in the encyclical “Deus Caritas Est”: “[L]ove for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind is as essential to [the Church] as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching the Gospel” (para. 22).
Each FOCUS mission trip provides opportunities for Mass and adoration to encourage a deeper relationship with Christ and appreciation for the sacraments of the Church. Depending on the community’s greatest need, mission trip participants throughout the year help to build or renovate homes, churches and schools, support homeless ministries and provide corporal works of mercy to the sick and dying.
“Going on the FOCUS Greek Spring Break Mission trip to Peru in 2017 was a life-changing experience filled with God, simplicity, community and joy,” said Rachel Blackmun, a senior at the University of South Dakota and Pi Beta Phi sorority member. “I realized how much we take for granted in the U.S.”
FOCUS missionary Kim Layman led that weeklong trip, which included 17 Greek students. She said, ”I realized that, while building these concrete stairs on the side of a mountain in the impoverished community of Pamplona outside of Lima, we were also sharing the Gospel and our very selves with our ‘neighbors’ in Christ.”
“The mission opened [the students’] eyes to what was true, good and beautiful,” added Layman. “After we returned, they created accountability partners to hold them to praying daily and striving to be the saints they realized they could be. Greek students have a unique position to influence those in their chapters about the truth of Jesus Christ, and they can create beautiful communities of faith among their peers.”
Since the first trip with FOCUS Missions in 2004 to Peru, more than 9,300 mission trip attendees have served on more than 550 trips around the world. Most trips result in one participant per trip entering a religious vocation because of the experience.
In addition to FOCUS Greek trips, FOCUS Missions also has Varsity Catholic trips that host sports camps for youth and Medical Mission trips which provide patient care services at medical clinics. The Young Adult trips are open to people ages 23 to 35 and provide college graduates with an opportunity to go on mission with peers from around the country. A full list of trips is at focusoncampus.org/missions.
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. www.focus.org