Thursday, January 7, 2010

FOCUS: It's Personal

Here's the point and no mistake: the Gospel is personal.

God made us personally. Jesus suffered and died most horribly and personally. He redeems us personally. No amount of theology or facts or laws or media blitz can take the place of a one-on-one encounter. That is why I'm big on FOCUS.

FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, is a national campus outreach that meets college students where they are and invites them to examine the meaning and purpose of their lives. Through large group outreach, Bible studies and one on one mentoring.

This is where people's hearts and minds are won or lost: in the one-on-one. And especially in college is where young people are most vulnerable to outside influences. For example, college aged women have the most abortions. Colleges have traditionally been hotbeds for radicalization. Kids are experimenting, trying new things, testing limits, rebelling against the known, etc.

But college kids also have the most potential; they have all the physical capabilities of adults but have not yet developed the mental or emotional maturity to fully control those powers. This is where they need a mentor most; where they can benefit from a good influence and do amazing things. This is also where they can be won for Jesus. But it takes the personal touch.

.- More than 3,500 students attended the Fellowship of Catholic University Student's (FOCUS) biannual conference last week in Orlando, Florida. The success of the event caused the group's president, Curtis Martin, to describe it as “packed with memorable moments.”

The five day 'Made for More' conference took place Dec 30 through Jan 3 and included a wide range of speakers such as Fr. Benedict Groschel, Matthew Kelly and Dr. Ted Sri, as well as performers Matt Maher, Matthew West and Tim Hawkins. Students also had the opportunity to celebrate the New Year together and participate in Mass and Confession.

“Each year one of the most dramatic events is our time of Eucharistic Adoration and Confession,” Martin told CNA. “If you have never seen thousands of young people fall to their knees (and some completely prostrate themselves) before Jesus Christ veiled under the appearance of mere bread, it is an amazing experience.”

“For several hours the students sat in silent prayer,” Martin recounted. “During the event, lines began to form so that these young leaders could make a Sacramental Confession, some for the first time since their First Confession.”

Recalling past FOCUS conferences, Martin said, “Two years ago after a similar experience in Grapevine, Texas, a priest that I had never met asked me how things were going and I responded, 'They seem to be going really well.' To which he replied, 'You will never know how well things are going, because you can not hear Confessions, this is the single most impressive experience of my priesthood!'”

In describing the work of FOCUS, Martin explained that “The basic message is this: The Catholic faith works. We are not doing anything special, we are simply inviting young people to know Christ personally and to follow Him in the Church He founded, where they find the fullness of truth and grace.”

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