Student Leadership Summit 2016


CONTACT: Leslie Prevish, 303-500-3318, [email protected]

FOCUS’ 2016 Student Leadership Summit (SLS16) Helps Stir Thousands of Souls

Rick Santorum, Pat Lencioni, Dr. Jonathan Reyes and Jennifer Fulwiler among event speakers

DENVER, Colo., January 8, 2016 — The Catholic Church is thriving on college campuses through the power of the Holy Spirit guiding FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Recently, FOCUS helped stir the souls of more than 3,400 attendees at its 2016 Student Leadership Summit (SLS16) on January 1 – 5 in Dallas, Texas. The conference encouraged attendees to set the world on fire with inspirational training and tools to fulfill the Great Commission, given by Jesus to His disciples:

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Republican, who is currently a 2016 candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, inspired all of the SLS attendees with encouragement to stay strong and defend their values: “You will pay a price for the truth, and you will pay a price for the values you hold. Thank God that you will be His voice in a very dark world. Thank you, because your country needs you.”

The Student Leadership Summit (SLS) is an invite-only event held every other year, alternating with the SEEK conference. It is a five-day training conference for the top college student leaders across the country. Utilizing dynamic training and revolutionary peer-to-peer learning techniques, SLS16 equipped over 2,000 student leaders, launching them into mission on campus. The sessions covered topics in three main areas: Prayer, Evangelization & Discipleship and Small Group, which taught attendees how to start and effectively lead Bible studies.

“At SLS, I was able to learn a concept, such as Ignation prayer, in the morning during the Training Sessions, then solidify it in my mind by teaching it to my peers in the afternoon in the Power Sessions,” said Adam Sanchez, a sophomore at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. “It inspired me to see the vibrancy of the Church among my peers and grow in hope for our future.”

Students and chaplains from campuses across the nation, including FOCUS’ 113 campuses, came to hear nationally recognized speakers such as Sr. Bethany Madonna, Fr. Mike Schmitz, Curtis Martin (FOCUS founder and CEO), Dr. Edward Sri, Jennifer Fulwiler, Dr. Jonathan Reyes and Pat Lencioni. Likewise, singer/songwriter Matt Maher performed inspirational songs of faith.

More than 100 priests concelebrated at the daily Masses, including several archbishops and bishops: Archbishop George J. Lucas (Archdiocese of Omaha, NE), Archbishop Paul Coakley (Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, OK), Bishop Donal McKewon (Diocese of Derry, Ireland), Bishop Joseph Strickland (Diocese of Tyler, TX), Bishop John Quinn (Diocese of Winona, WI) and Bishop Doug Deshotel (Auxiliary Bishop, Dallas, TX). Priests heard more than 1,000 confessions during SLS, with many occurring after Eucharistic adoration on Saturday evening.

Besides students, SLS attendees included staff, missionaries, chaplains, seminarians, alumni, benefactors and Catholic lay persons. SLS included a Lifelong Mission Track for post-college attendees to learn how to deepen their own faith and share it at their parish, at work and with friends and family.

Also at the conference, FOCUS presented its St. Joseph Award to the Peter Flanigan family as the 2016 recipients. The St. Joseph Award recognizes benefactors who have made a significant impact through the gifts of their time, talent and treasure. It is awarded to someone who embodies the ideals of philanthropy, leadership and volunteerism in service to the FOCUS mission. The Flanigan family’s involvement with FOCUS began in 2007. Peter Flanigan passed away in 2013, and his sons — Bob Flanigan and Deacon Tim Flanigan — received the award at SLS. Along with several other family members, both sons are deeply involved with FOCUS in New York and on a national level.

“Peter's legacy really comes alive for me in his children,” said Curtis Martin, speaking about the Flanigan family. “Deacon Tim and Bob have been unbelievable in their commitment both as philanthropists with their financial support and also in giving their time and expertise; they are men of God who really prove what it’s like to be a disciple of Christ, and I hope they inspire you has as they have me.” FOCUS was delighted to have the Flanigans come to SLS16.

More than 40,000 people have attended FOCUS events 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 next conference, SEEK2017, will be held in San Antonio, Texas, on January 3 – 7, 2017. Registration is now open at


FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) is a national outreach founded in 1998 that 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 2015 – 2016 academic year, nearly 500 missionaries will serve full-time on 113 college campuses in 36 states and Washington, D.C. More than 20,000 FOCUS alumni have been prepared to evangelize parishes throughout the U.S. Within this number, 547 have made decisions to pursue Catholic religious vocations. By 2022, FOCUS expects to launch 75,000 alumni into 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