At the University of Maine, we are truly blessed by the presence of four phenomenal FOCUS Missionaries on campus. The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) is a Catholic collegiate outreach whose mission is to share the hope and joy of the gospel with university students.
Inspiring and equipping them for a lifetime of Christ-centered evangelization, discipleship, and friendships in which they lead others to do the same. Staffed by young adults who can relate to the daily lives of college students, FOCUS Missionaries actively work to invite students into a deeper relationship with Christ. Through prayer, good works, and friendship, they model what walking through life with Christ looks like.
“We find students wherever they are,” explains FOCUS Missionary Matt Leffel, “invite them to The Newman Center, invite them to a relationship with Jesus. We teach them to pray and lead Bible studies with them. For those really excited with a desire to share their faith, we teach them and give them the tools to go out and invite others to come to know Jesus as well.”
As UMaine student, Joseph Beale explains, “People are looking for role models of what men should be like. Of course, the ultimate role model is Jesus. These guys are as close to the role model as you can get. They’re there to push you. They’re there to say How is your prayer life? You should do this. You should push yourself to be better. I think my relationship with them forced me to take a look at what my faith was like.”
Why is this work so essential?
Nationally, only 30% of Americans raised Catholic still practice their faith, Sherry Weddell notes in “Forming Intentional Disciples.” Many begin to drift away from practicing their faith during their college years. FOCUS Missionaries step into this gap to meet students in this critical formative time when they make adult decisions about their faith and how to live it.
Are they having an impact at UMaine?
Judging from the fact that The Newman Center is quite literally bursting at the seams some nights from Bible Studies, liturgies, Wednesday night suppers, casual get-togethers, and more, it’s safe to say that their impact is tremendous.
“It’s incredible that we have so many people here,” notes FOCUS Missionary Nina Cardillo, “We just push out the doors. We can’t fit everyone here to do all the things that we want to be doing on a regular basis. Space is another thing we really need with a new Newman Center.”
As we embark on the campaign to Rebuild His Church, we feel blessed to be in the unique position of needing more space to nurture and accommodate students developing into the Catholic leaders of tomorrow.
Want to hear about the ministry from the FOCUS Missionaries themselves?