FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) recently held a national conference in Texas. Through the generosity of the Diocese of Peoria, three EC students were able to go for free.
EC has a Newman Center, an old house with a beautiful chapel. However, it does not have a chaplain or campus minister. The Sacraments have not been offered to our students on campus for two years. There is a small amount of ministry that happens there - every Wednesday Trav, our friend Keri and I offer a small Bible Study / discussion. Parishioners from the local parish provide a home cooked dinner immediately following. The students come at 4:30 and stay until 6-8 pm, depending on night classes, play practice, etc. It is a phenomenal group of students, Catholic and nonCatholic, but they are consistent, prayerful and fun.
However, the impact that Conference has made is already apparent. R, B and L came back from the week long event of conferences, Mass, adoration, confession and concerts with several thousand other college students and began attending daily Mass (at 7am one town over - the only option they have) and asking for help praying the rosary. We are even holding a holy hour in our chapel tonight.
FOCUS is a group that sends missionaries to campus to lead Bible studies and disciple students, building them into leaders. They are young, fun and passionate about Christ. I respect them because they don't hire just one kind of young adult - the women missionaries run from sweet to sassy, the men are intellectuals and jocks. And they wholeheartedly believe that the glory of God is man fully alive. It is impressive for college students to be surrounded by such people - their peers who are fully alive, deeply in love with Christ, and fun! (Who knew you could be fun and devout?) And then FOCUS really did a wonderful thing in bringing holy, dynamic Catholics such as Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Mother Assumpta Long and Deacon Alex Jones to speak to them.
Well done, FOCUS, well done. Thank you for all your efforts to put on the Conference and for all you do on our college campuses.