The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) hosted the fourth annual Go Forth commissioning event May 7 – 11 to thank, celebrate and prepare departing and transitioning missionaries to successfully move into new careers while striving to live out lifelong Catholic mission.
Nearly 130 missionaries attended Go Forth, which included seminars by several FOCUS alumni with advice on navigating relationships and evangelizing in their new parishes, workplaces, families and communities. A veteran career counselor provided tips on updating resumes and honing interview skills.
“My experience at Go Forth helped me to reflect and to respond with gratitude to everything that I received during my four years as a FOCUS missionary,” said Veronica Halbur. “I am excited to continue this mission as I transition into parish life and live out my baptismal call to make disciples of all nations.”
“One unexpected blessing during the retreat was a conversation with a maintenance worker at the event location who asked why we were there,” added Halbur, who most recently served at Boston University. “After I told him about Go Forth, he said he used to be Catholic and asked me what he needed to do for his soul to be saved. I shared the Gospel message with him and explained that God wants him to come back and receive His mercy. I encouraged him to go to confession and back to the sacraments. He tearfully thanked me and said he wouldn’t forget our conversation! My training with FOCUS has given me the confidence to be bold in proclaiming the truth of God’s love and inviting those around me to experience this as well.”
Go Forth provided several opportunities for prayer and discernment, including a special Commissioning Mass celebrated by Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and a daylong retreat with FOCUS National Chaplain Father John Lager, O.F.M. Cap. The reflection time helped missionaries process the impact of their work on campus, as well as listen for God’s guidance as they move into the next phase of their lives.
“Go Forth enables us to both celebrate and thank our departing staff as well as prepare them to be fruitful missionary disciples of Jesus Christ wherever God leads them,” said FOCUS Alumni Senior Director Deborah Fowlkes. “We want to continue to help our alumni share Christ as they live out their faith in the workplace and community. Go Forth provides the first steps to do so.”
The FOCUS Alumni department connects, inspires and equips FOCUS student and staff alumni to continue in their roles as missionary disciples. Resources on focusalumni.org include a Job Board, networking opportunities for advice and connections with others across the country.
Newly-formed FOCUS Connect regional communities help alumni stay connected in areas across the country, such as Indianapolis, St. Louis, Denver, Chicago, Boston and Northern Virginia. Three regional events brought alumni together this year in Omaha, St. Louis and Baltimore.
FOCUS Alumni manages the Lifelong Mission Track at national FOCUS conferences. More than 1,000 people participated on the track at SLS18, including 300 alumni. Many are expected to attend SEEK2019 held Jan. 3 – 7, 2019. The annual St. Francis Xavier Alumni Award for Excellence in the New Evangelization will be presented at SEEK2019. Registration is open at Seek2019.com.
Copyright 2018 Leslie Prevish for FOCUS
About FOCUS: The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) was founded in 1998 and 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 2017 – 2018 academic year, more than 660 missionaries are serving full-time on 137 college campuses, located across 38 U.S. states and at four international locations (two campuses in Austria, one in England and one in Ireland). More than 24,000 students have been involved with FOCUS, who after graduation have the opportunity to move into parish life to continue their missionary work. Within this number, 674 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. 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 at Focus.org.