SLS20: You Were Made for Mission Event to Inspire Missionary Disciples

Keynote speakers include Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, M.I.C., Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, Sr. Bethany Madonna, S.V., Fr. Agustino Torres, C.F.R., Fr. Michael Schmitz, Helen Alvaré and more

DENVER, September 12, 2019 — The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) will present SLS20: You Were Made for Mission at the Phoenix Convention Center December 30, 2019 – January 3, 2020. SLS is a national leadership event that welcomes any Catholic who wants to live out the truth of Christ in daily life and learn how to form missionary disciples wherever they are. Early registration is now open at

FOCUS events have welcomed more than 78,000 attendees since the inaugural National Conference held in 1999, where 25 students came together to pray, deepen their Catholic faith and learn how to share Christ with others. 

The schedule for SLS20 will include inspirational keynotes from world-renowned Catholic speakers; impact sessions on various topics relevant to the Catholic faith; training sessions about the basics of missionary discipleship; and power sessions where attendees will apply what they have learned in small groups. Attendees will receive daily opportunities for Mass, adoration, confession, reflection, discernment and fellowship. Additional attractions and entertainment include music performed by FOCUS Collective and a New Year's Eve party for all attendees. 

SLS20 will host college students, FOCUS alumni, clergy and religious, parish and diocesan leaders, campus ministry leaders, FOCUS benefactors and others ready to take the next step in their faith. Students on the Collegiate Track will learn how to go deeper in their relationship with Christ and form missionary disciples at their school and beyond. 

Ryan Dondalski, a senior at the University of Tulsa majoring in mechanical engineering attended the Collegiate Track at SLS18 as a sophomore. Following his SLS18 experience, Dondalski led his first Bible study during his junior year and began meeting with another student in discipleship. 

“I can’t even express how much my faith has grown,” said Dondalski, who has applied to join FOCUS as a missionary following graduation. “After being pulled into a great community by FOCUS missionaries, who have been great examples of faith leadership on campus, who have been present to me, they have helped me grow and be more passionate about my faith.” 

In addition to the Collegiate Track, the Making Missionary Disciples Track at SLS20 (previously titled the Lifelong Mission Track at other FOCUS national events) will be open for any Catholic who wants to learn how to play their part in living as true missionary disciples. The Campus Ministry Track will offer opportunities for networking among campus ministry leaders and allow them to explore the issues and strategies that shape their efforts at their Catholic/Newman Centers. Both tracks will feature speakers and sessions addressing the most relevant issues to parishioners, parish/diocesan staff and leaders in the Catholic community. 

Deacon Dave Maurer of St. Mary of Sorrows Parish in Fairfax, Virginia, attended SEEK2019 with his wife, Kathy, at the invitation of their daughter, Susie, who serves FOCUS at the apostolate’s national office in Denver, Colorado. Before attending SEEK, Dcn. Maurer had dreamed of helping to ignite a spirit of missionary discipleship at his parish. 

“We were given insights into how FOCUS teaches and applies proven and time-honored methods to form missionary disciples, to engage with others in rich friendships embracing their human and spiritual dimensions, and to prepare them to go out on their own particular missions,” said Dcn. Maurer, sharing his experience on the Lifelong Mission Track at SEEK2019. “With the full support of our pastor, we began men’s and women’s Bible studies in the spring at our parish using the FOCUS model. We each now have our first disciple ready to begin their own small group and several others are talking about doing so in the near future.” 

Keynote speakers for SLS20 include Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, M.I.C., Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, Sr. Bethany Madonna, S.V., Fr. Agustino Torres, C.F.R., Fr. Michael Schmitz, Helen Alvaré, Curtis A. Martin, Damon Owens, Dr. Jonathan Reyes, Dr. Edward Sri and Emily Wilson. More information about speakers can be found online at

Sponsors for SLS20 include The Guiding Star Project, Franciscan University, The Amazing Parish, Little Sisters of the Poor, COR Expeditions, Priests of the Sacred Heart and Magnificat. Organizations interested in learning more about sponsorships can view this video or email [email protected].   



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.