Fellowship of Catholic University Students turns to Mary during Fatima centenary

“Jesus Christ is the answer to the deepest longings of the human heart. Many people are drawn to Him when they encounter one of His joyful followers and so, many of those drawn to the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) have encountered a FOCUS missionary who is radiating the joy of Christ.” Curtis Martin, CEO

Recognizing the significant impact the college years have on a young person’s future, Curtis Martin founded the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) in 1998, which now has nearly 600 missionaries on 125 college campuses. This year, the organization will consecrate its apostolate before The Blue Army’s Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Fatima statue on June 13 at Ave Maria University in Florida.

Who are FOCUS missionaries? FOCUS missionaries are recent college graduates who make a two-year commitment to evangelize their peers. We send teams of missionaries (four on average) to campuses to meet college students where they are, encouraging them to examine the meaning and purpose of their lives in the hope of inviting them into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church.

What are the pathways that lead them to become a missionary, get involved or seek support?

FOCUS partners with the university parish, Newman Center and/or Catholic student ministry in order to co-labor with these excellent ministries and provide the right opportunities for students to encounter Christ. This includes FOCUS missionaries hosting large-group outreach events, leading weekly Bible studies and offering personalized mentoring with student leaders. The missionaries also accompany students on mission trips and national conferences, which are oftentimes profound experiences for students. Missionaries welcome young adults from all walks of life and religious backgrounds to FOCUS events and activities.

FOCUS attendees and worship team enjoyed faith-filled music from Matt Maher

In addition to our collegiate outreach effort, FOCUS has programs that work with athletes (Varsity Catholic) and Greek life (FOCUS Greek). FOCUS facilitates numerous global trips with FOCUS Missions and provides online formation and mentorship through FOCUS Digital Campus for students who are not on FOCUS campuses.

Finally, we have been blessed with more than 20,000 students having been involved with FOCUS, who after graduation have the opportunity to move into parish life to continue their missionary work. Within this number, more than 600 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.

 How are young people growing in their spirituality?

Students involved with FOCUS on campus grow their spiritually in many ways. Daily prayer offers them the opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ, and daily Mass and frequent Confession offer the most intimate and strengthening contact with Our Lord. This helps them develop a personal relationship with Christ and discern His will for their lives. Also, students are encouraged to have a spiritual director.

FOCUS students with clergy

Likewise, FOCUS missionaries accompany students regularly with personalized mentoring. FOCUS events on campus provide opportunities for camaraderie and deeper friendships with others striving to maintain Catholic virtues among the many temptations of campus life. Bible studies enhance their knowledge of their faith and encourage discussions on the teachings of the Church.

Since its founding, FOCUS has attracted staff, missionaries and students who have a devotion to the Blessed Mother, which has been cultivated during their time with FOCUS. Marian devotion is an important topic during New Staff Training each year.

Is FOCUS doing anything special this year for the 100th Anniversary of Fatima?

We at FOCUS have always had a deep devotion to Our Lady, and in particular for me, to Our Lady of Fatima, as she played an instrumental role in breathing new life into my dead faith. In the lead up to the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions, many at FOCUS were consulted about the desire to formally consecrate the efforts to Jesus through Mary, and the response was overwhelmingly positive!

So we decided to consecrate the apostolate on June 13, 2017, which marks the 100th anniversary of the second apparition at Fatima, when our Lady said to Sr Lucia: “Jesus wishes to make use of you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”

We will try to increase our efforts to encourage the sharing and discussion of our need for the graces offered by our Lord through our Lady, especially those offered at Fatima and Guadalupe. We will encourage living throughout the year our Lady’s request at Fatima to pray (especially the rosary and a devotion to her Immaculate Heart through the Five First Saturdays devotion), suffer, offer penances and make sacrifices for all souls. We will also invoke the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe when we engage in spiritual multiplication efforts.

This will be a perpetual consecration, to be renewed each year both on June 13 and on December 12 (the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe). This consecration to Jesus through Mary is dedicated to the whole of FOCUS and our foundational mission.

What would you like people to know about FOCUS?

At its core, FOCUS tries to reach the next generation of leaders at one of the most critical times in their lives, being the college campus where so many of them loose the last threads tying them to the faith. We hope to reach these college students with the Gospel and as they become the next generation of leaders, they can help to reach the world for Christ through their families, vocations and parishes.

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