Varsity Catholic Challenges Student-Athletes to be Virtuous Role Models

Former Boston College quarterback Patrick Towles joins FOCUS as missionary

DENVER, August 16, 2018 — Varsity Catholic, a division of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), helps student-athletes on college campuses to develop virtuous characteristics and deepen their faith during college years of challenging academic and training schedules. 

In a June letter from the Vatican, Pope Francis wrote, ”Those who are part of the sports world exemplify virtues such as generosity, humility, sacrifice, constancy, and cheerfulness … We need to deepen the close connection that exists between sport and life, which can enlighten one another, so that the effort to surpass oneself in an athletic discipline also serves as a stimulus to always improve as a person, in all of life’s aspects.” 

In 2007, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) launched Varsity Catholic as a division of FOCUS to address the unique needs and challenges of student-athletes. Since then, more than 2,000 student-athletes have participated in Varsity Catholic Bible studies. 

For the 2018 – 2019 academic year, FOCUS has assigned 164 trained Varsity Catholic missionaries to 99 campuses. They will challenge and inspire student-athletes to grow their faith, integrating it with sport to become both better athletes and individuals. 

Most Varsity Catholic missionaries are former student-athletes, including Patrick Towles, a new missionary serving at Louisiana State University. He became involved with FOCUS at the University of Kentucky, where he eventually started a Bible study with other players. He later transferred to Boston College, where he was the starting quarterback. 

"Athletes at the college level face demands that are very unique, and it is essential that they practice excellence in all areas of their lives,” Towles said. “These 18-year-old kids are expected to carry themselves like they are in their mid-twenties."

"A FOCUS missionary regularly encouraged me to reflect on how we become great Catholic men. Men need more relationships with those who challenge them to be virtuous and keep them accountable to their faith. I finally feel like I am right where I am supposed to be! As a missionary, my greatest desire is to lead all students to Christ, and I look forward to working with student-athletes on campus." 

In addition to campus Bible studies and one-on-one mentoring, Varsity Catholic hosts mission camps to provide a unique opportunity to bring faith together with sports to serve impoverished youth around the globe. More information on Varsity Catholic can be found at 


The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) was founded in 1998. The apostolate 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. Throughout the 2018 – 2019 academic year, nearly 700 missionaries serve full-time on 153 college campuses, located across 42 U.S. states and at five international locations (two in Austria, one in England, one in Germany and one in Ireland). Tens of thousands of students have been involved with FOCUS, who after graduation have the opportunity to move into parish life and continue their missionary work. Within this number, 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. To learn more, visit us at