Fellowship of Catholic University Students
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|Purpose||Catholic outreach to American university students|
Origin and Purpose
FOCUS exists to evangelize college students in the Catholic faith through work by campus missionaries, post-graduates who have typically participated with the organization in their undergraduate years.
FOCUS established its pilot program in January 1998 at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, with two staff members and 24 students. Curtis Martin discussed the mission of the organization with Pope John Paul II that same year. At the invitation of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, former Archbishop of Denver, a FOCUS program was established in the fall of 1998 at the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley. The group is now headquartered outside of Denver.
FOCUS currently has over 500 full-time staff members. FOCUS takes recent college graduates, trains them in the teachings of the Catholic Church, Scripture and practical aspects of ministry, and sends them out typically in teams of four to serve on college campuses. FOCUS staff members make an initial two-year commitment to this full-time work on campus. FOCUS works with the approval of the local bishop and the support of the local pastor, as well as existing campus ministries.
The greater part of FOCUS' work occurs in Bible studies, small groups that meet weekly to discuss a passage of Scripture, typically led by a missionary for the organization. The organization calls this small-group model "the method modeled by the master," that is, it purports to base its modes of evangelization off of Jesus' actions in the gospels. FOCUS Bible studies are either all-male or all-female. Meetings generally follow formats and lesson plans distributed by the organization and available online. A Bible study leader will typically meet one-on-one with a couple select members once a week outside of study sessions in what are called "discipleship" sessions.
Missionaries are typically recent graduates who have some experience with the organization's Bible studies as undergraduates, who dedicate a year or two of service stationed on a campus with a FOCUS program. Missionaries, who make a living by fundraising salaries, undergo a five-week training program at the organization's Denver Support Center the summer prior to their assignments.
FOCUS also hosts a pair of yearly conferences which occur on alternating years. The larger of the two, SEEK, is largely educational and social in nature. The smaller, the Student Leadership Summit (SLS), is more directly aimed at training undergraduates and other young and ministerial professionals in the organization's methods. Both conferences feature high-profile speakers, exhibitors, and social events. The organization has hosted conferences since 1999.
The organization also hosts service trips and retreats scheduled to coincide with typical undergraduate term breaks.
Curtis Martin is the founder and CEO of FOCUS.
Martin holds a master's degree in Theology and is the author of the best-selling book Made for More, and co-host the EWTN show Crossing the Goal. In 2004, Curtis and his wife Michaelann were awarded the Benemerenti Medal by Pope John Paul II for their outstanding service to the Church. In 2011, Curtis Martin was appointed as Consulter to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization by Pope Benedict XVI.
Dr. Sri helped found the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) with Curtis and Michaelann Martin in 1998. His continued involvement over the years has assisted with the growth of the apostolate. Finishing up its 20th anniversary year, FOCUS has more than 660 missionaries serving on 137 U.S. and international campuses and five parishes.
As of February 2019, FOCUS has a presence at over 170 campuses in five countries, predominantly the United States.
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