Missionaries who have served with FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, often find it difficult after they end their time on campus to find a community with shared Catholic values. At times, these departing and transitioning FOCUS missionaries and staff experience challenges as they move from campus into new workplaces, new parishes and new situations with family and friends.
FOCUS exists to launch college students and missionaries into lifelong Catholic mission; therefore, the FOCUS Alumni Relations department created Go Forth, a four-day commissioning event to help staff prayerfully process the time of transition and be further equipped to live as missionary disciples in the world. More than 70 missionaries attended the second annual Go Forth event, held May 10 – 13 in Golden, Colorado. Of the attendees, 11 have made decisions to pursue religious vocations.
Throughout the event, especially during times of prayer, adoration and the sacraments, these new FOCUS alumni were encouraged to reflect on what the Lord has done in and through them and to inwardly examine the new mission fields to which He is calling them. FOCUS leadership and staff celebrated the accomplishments of the new alumni and thanked them for their service.
Go Forth speakers included Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, Sr. Maris Stella of the Sisters of Life, Curtis Martin and Dr. Jonathan Reyes. Each shared advice on how these alumni can live out lifelong Catholic mission as they encounter unique situations at new jobs, among friends and in parish life beyond campus.
During the evening Barn Party celebration on May 12, FOCUS awarded Paul DeBuff the St. Francis Xavier Award for excellence in living the New Evangelization. DeBuff served as a FOCUS missionary from 2007 – 2010. Currently a resident of Dallas, DeBuff works as a senior budget analyst for the town of Addison, where he oversees a $121 million budget and manages a staff of more than 40 people.
To respond to the superficial relationships that he saw among young adults in his area, DeBuff started a group that meets weekly for dinner and prayer to develop intentional friendships and grow in the unity of Christ. In January, DeBuff attended the FOCUS 2016 Student Leadership Summit in Dallas and then used the tools he learned to start a small group program at his parish, which serves over 40 young adults. With three co-founders, DeBuff also helped found The Joseph House, a house of four young adult men striving to build each other up to live a life of virtue and holiness. Together with FOCUS alumni Rob Muzyka and Sean Ketterick, along with local young adult director Josh Schwartz, DeBuff is developing a men’s movement oriented towards forging men into missionary disciples.
The Go Forth event ended with a special Commissioning Mass celebrated by Archbishop Aquila and the four national FOCUS chaplains. Mass was followed by a closing brunch where John Zimmer, vice president of apostolic development for FOCUS, encouraged the FOCUS alumni to continue developing their spiritual lives — and those of others around them — as they start on a new journey.
About FOCUS Alumni
The FOCUS Alumni Relations department connects, inspires and equips FOCUS alumni with ongoing experiences, tools and resources as they endeavor to live lifelong Catholic mission. The team currently serves about 20,000 FOCUS alumni, including former students and missionaries. Out of 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. Please visit https://focusoncampus.org/alumni and http://www.focus.org/what-we-do/lifelong-mission to learn more.
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, more than 500 missionaries are serving 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 atwww.focus.org.