Hey! My name's Owen. I'm a FOCUS missionary.
Hey! My name's Owen. I'm a FOCUS missionary.
I have the honor to serve at the University of Southern California. Fight on!
Back when I was a student athlete in college, I had been given the great gift: to desire to know and love God in and with everything that I had (I received this gift in large part due a retreat in high school where I began to believe in God's true desire for my good and in His undying mercy, despite how guilty, lost, and broken I felt). Despite this great gift, the desire was in fact like the seeds in Jesus' parable where my desire was sowed upon the rocks and among the weeds (Matt. 13). I knew I wanted to love Jesus, to know the Father's love, but I began to be weighed down in my heart by the pursuit of the false idols which are so prominently found in the college environment: educational and athletic performance and to have the acclaim of many friends. My desire to love Jesus was great, but it was so terribly hard to love Jesus in my classes and among my teammates. And so, for a vast majority of college I lived my life of faith when I could, going to mass, both on the weekend and throughout the week, and praying, as it fit with my schedule of classes and athletics. However, when it came time to live my faith out with my classmates and with my team, I mostly would be focused on keeping myself out of trouble and being outstanding in my character. I thought that by witnessing to what God had done with me in my prayer and sacramental life, I would flourish in my communities outside of the church. Unfortunately, I was wrong, but I couldn't point to where the root of the problem was. I remember experiencing so much anguish in my heart, seeing that no matter how much I sacrificed to be with Jesus in prayer, to form my mind with His teachings, and to encounter Him and His mercy in the graces of the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist, that in the end it was not enough to see transformation in my friendships. How greatly my faith was tested in this trial. I saw my friends struggle with broken hearts, a lack of peace with their studies, and troubled relationships, knowing that Jesus wanted to heal them, but not sure why I couldn't help Him do it. I began to doubt if there was even a point to loving them, to suffering for them in my heart, if in the end little to nothing I would do seemed to help them.
It wasn't until after my junior year in college, where finally God's grace unveiled the missing piece of my faith. I was home for summer, and I was invited by a friend to attend mass with them at the headquarters of FOCUS. I had heard about FOCUS, and had had known others who were impacted by FOCUS, but I also had never really encountered FOCUS on a personal basis. After mass, I remember encountering so many people who were busy working who would stop what they were doing to speak with me, to get to know me. The Spirit of love that I had felt in my time of faith began to stir in my heart, and I recognized that there was something these people had that I was looking for. After looking into their mission and speaking with them on a more regular basis throughout the summer, I realized that I was missing Fellowship and Discipleship in my life, and so I decided to sign up for what they call digital discipleship (since we did not have any FOCUS missionaries on my campus). In the book of Acts, it speaks about what the early disciples did after Jesus had left them and sent them the Holy Spirit to guide them. It says that "...they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (teachings of the church) and fellowship, to the breaking of bread (the sacraments) and the prayers". While I had encountered Jesus early on in my life through prayer and the sacraments (especially the blessed sacrament and confession), and eventually sought to form my life by the teachings of the church to develop my person in virtue, what was missing in my life had left a whole in my heart that longed for relationship. I had been so desperately trying to love others in my life, knowing and wanting to share Jesus's great love with them, but I had not yet let myself be loved by a friend. Jesus found me in my isolation, and loved me with His mystical body, the people of the church. In fellowship, and by allowing another to love me in formal and regular discipleship, I finally began to see fruit in my relationships. In finally allowing myself to follow a brother in the faith, I was able invite others to follow me to grow in friendship with Christ together. This was a huge shift for me! After having encountered discipleship, I realized how important allowing others to invest in me is, and how important friendship is as the foundation for leading others to friendship with Jesus'.
I had thought that after college I would enter seminary to discern if God willed me to be a priest, but after having seen my faith in this new lens, I realized that, while there is a great need for great priests, I had to first answer the call for the great need of friendship. There are indeed many students on college campus's who are living out their faith, and so many more that have not found Him or who have lost The Way, but the common factor for them all is a vast majority of them have yet to be encountered in a deep and intentional friendship. I am convinced that the work of friendship that FOCUS is doing on campus's across the globe is truly changing the world, through one friendship, and one heart at a time. I am honored and have the pleasure to partake in this mission, and I hope you too can encounter the love of Jesus through friendship as I have.
When I answered the call to join FOCUS, I made the decision to rely on the spiritual and financial support of mission partners to help me through this mission and to give all the time I have to the students. I've been blessed with the most amazing people who have journeyed with me as I serve at USC, both students and mission partners alike. If you are interested in partnering with me in this mission, please let me know of the best way to reach you and I will schedule an appointment. I'd be honored to share this mission with you.
We encounter God in an intimate relationship through daily prayer, the sacraments and the Scriptures.
By building genuine friendships, we meet students on a deeper level.
We teach students how to share the gospel, who in turn teach other students how to pass it on …