Varsity Catholic, a division of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), is a bright spot in today’s culture of sport that is sometimes marred by athletes seeking self-glory. Student-athletes need virtuous role models during stressful years of rigorous academic and training schedules.
College is a pivotal time for student-athletes to develop the Six Principles discussed at last year’s Sport at the Service of Humanity Conference at the Vatican; love, compassion, respect, enlightenment, balance and joy. The October 2016 event was the first global conference on faith and sport and discussed the need to promote positive values, inspire youth and better serve humanity. Thomas Wurtz, founder and director of Varsity Catholic, was one of 150 delegates invited to attend the event, hosted by the Pontifical Council for Culture.
For the 2017 – 2018 academic year, FOCUS has 158 trained Varsity Catholic missionaries on 97 campuses, inspiring student-athletes to grow their faith and integrate it with sport to become both better athletes and individuals. Of those, 46 are full-time Varsity Catholic missionaries on 28 campuses. More than 1,200 student-athletes participated in Varsity Catholic Bible studies in the 2016 – 2017 academic year.
All Varsity Catholic missionaries are former student-athletes — including missionaries like Yazmin Montoya, a first-year Varsity Catholic missionary who played soccer at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She was the soccer captain for three seasons and was voted the university’s 2017 Female Athlete of the Year.
“Some people see sport as their ‘god,’ and Varsity Catholic helps transform a student-athlete’s perspective,” said Montoya, who led Bible studies on campus and invited others to pray the rosary with her before practice. “A Varsity Catholic missionary developed an authentic relationship with me and challenged me to grow my faith. My teammates saw my life was transformed, and I wanted to share that freedom with them. God has blessed me with this talent, and it’s my obligation to use it for His glory.”
After graduating with a degree in Exercise Science and starting a Master’s program, Yazmin made a radical decision to become a FOCUS missionary, sharing, “I realized FOCUS missionaries are changing the world, and I wanted to be a part of this. Some people thought I was crazy, deciding to fundraise my salary instead of an easier avenue of being a grad student. But students need me now, so why wait? I am satisfied and fulfilled because this is what God wants us to do.”
More information on Varsity Catholic can be found at www.varsitycatholic.org. The site includes an inspiring video with five-time Major League Baseball All-Star Mike Sweeney, who supports Varsity Catholic because “… they’re about what I’m about, using the gifts that God has given us … to share the greatest story ever told: The Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Copyright 2017 FOCUS
About Varsity Catholic
In 2007, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) launched Varsity Catholic as a division of FOCUS to address the unique needs and challenges student-athletes face. For the 2017 – 2018 academic year, FOCUS has 158 trained Varsity Catholic missionaries on 97 campuses. Of those, 46 are full-time Varsity Catholic missionaries on 28 campuses. More than 1,200 student-athletes participated in Varsity Catholic Bible studies in the 2016 – 2017 academic year. FOCUS Varsity Catholic missionaries on campus were, at some point, athletes in college. In addition to one-on-one mentoring and Bible studies on campus, Varsity Catholic hosts mission camps to provide a unique opportunity to bring the faith together with sports to serve impoverished youth around the globe. These trips are designed for student-athletes who facilitate a sports camp while sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. To learn more, visit www.varsitycatholic.org.
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 three international locations (two campuses in Austria and one in England). More than 20,000 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 www.focus.org.