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In This Issue
Top 7 Catholic Resources
One Student's Journey to FOCUS
McAdam Family Story
 
Quick Links
Welcome
Curtis Picture

Dear Friend,

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Welcome to the first issue of the FOCUS eNewsletter and thank you for your interest in discovering new ways to deepen your relationship with our Lord. Your desire to seek after Jesus Christ is the same desire that fuels FOCUS missionaries in their work on campuses throughout the U.S. Your thirst to serve Him is a thirst that you share with countless Christians throughout the world. 

Included among the features of this debut issue, is a brief summary of seven top resources to help cultivate your desire to learn more about the Church and the Catholic faith passed down to us from the Apostles.  I have hand-picked these seven organizations because I feel that they offer the very best in service for those who have a spiritual hunger for “more.” 

Regardless of your background or age, any of the options from this list will offer something that is specialized for your level of interest and commitment. I highly recommend each of these resources and encourage you to use them as an instrument in growing your relationship with Christ. 

In this and subsequent issues, you will also find a variety of articles, profiles and other compelling news items from FOCUS headquarters and from our ever-growing list of FOCUS campuses around the country.

I pray that this newsletter can serve to help keep God's fire burning within you through new opportunities for spiritual and intellectual growth!


In Christ,

Curtis Martin
FOCUS Founder and President

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Top 7 Catholic Resources

Augustine Institute logoAgustine Institute
The Augustine Institute provides graduate students with coherent and unified instruction in Scripture, Catholic doctrine and history and the pedagogical and leadership skills to impart the same to others.  Students at the Augustine Institute not only gain in-depth knowledge of the Catholic faith, but they come away with a comprehensive vision for Catholic thought and Catholic life.  In an age when the Catholic faith is often seen only in its isolated, fragmented parts, the Augustine Institute emphasizes seeing the splendor of Catholicism as a unified whole. www.augustineinstitute.org


Matthew Kelly

Matthew Kelly Foundation
The Matthew Kelly Foundation (TMFK) hosts programs and produces resources that are designed to provide the ongoing source of spiritual nourishment that we all need if we are to become “the best version of ourselves.”  Working to create a long-term residual effect in the lives of those who are touched by Matthew’s work, TMKF produces a variety of materials and hosts a variety of events to help people apply the message to their everyday lives. www.matthewkelly.org


Catholic AnswersCatholic Answers
Catholic Answers is an apostolate dedicated to serving Christ by bringing the fullness of Catholic truth to the world. Their website is an excellent source of information where clergy and apologists explain Catholic truth, equip the faithful to fully live the sacramental life and assist them in spreading the Good News. www.catholic.com


LifeteenLife Teen
Life Teen is an international Catholic movement that serves the Church by providing resources and faith experiences that help lead teens closer to Christ. This is accomplished through a vibrant Eucharistic spirituality and by creating opportunities for teens to grow in their faith. www.lifeteen.com


Our Sunday VisitorOur Sunday Visitor
Our Sunday Visitor serves the Church by providing Catholics with materials that strengthen their relationship with Christ, deepen their commitment to the Church and help them to see the world through the eyes of faith. They accomplish this by producing high-quality and trustworthy information resources that are engaged with the contemporary world and the faithful to watch what the Church teaches. www.osv.com


Great AdventureThe Great Adventure Bible Timeline
The Great Adventure Bible Timeline is an interactive Bible learning system designed to give you the “Big Picture” of salvation history. The DVD presentations were created by Jeff Cavins and have helped hundreds of thousands of Christians learn about Scripture in a practical way. www.greatadventureonline.com 


ENDOW

ENDOW
ENDOW (Educating on the Nature & Dignity of Women) is a Catholic educational program that brings women together to discover their God-given dignity and to understand their role in humanizing and transforming society.  ENDOW utilizes small study groups, conferences and retreats to cultivate faith, fellowship and formation. www.endowonline.com

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From Skeptical to Saved: One Student's Path to FOCUS


Belt Buckle Rosary Raised in a small rural town in middle America, David’s childhood experience was, in some ways, typical of his generation.  His parents divorced when he was four years old and two years later his mother remarried the man he calls “Dad.”  “I didn’t find that it had much of an emotional impact on me.  At least not at the time,” says David today.

David attended a Methodist church growing up, going only sporadically until sports took precedence during his middle school years. “Church was an option for us, but it was the first thing to go if something else came up.”   Eventually, it got to the point where every weekend brought with it “something else” and David quit attending Sunday services entirely.

By high school, David was involved in a serious relationship that “kept him out of trouble, but was neither sacramental nor particularly healthy.”  When the time came to pick a college, David chose a small, in-state private school close to home.  That he had enrolled at a Catholic college didn’t faze him. He was, as he puts it, “just staying close to please mom.”

Shortly after his freshman year began, David broke up with his high school girlfriend and embarked on a path he would travel for the next several years.  He started drinking and making bad decisions, immersing himself in a group of friends who were nominally Catholic and whose influence colored his perception of Catholicism in general:

“It’s funny, because I was attending this Catholic institution, surrounded by Catholic culture, and my impression of Catholics was based entirely on the way my friends were living their lives.”
Their carelessness and lack of ambition became his association for all Catholics. “I was blinded to the authentic Catholicism around me.  I saw only what I wanted to see.”

What he didn’t see, however, was real happiness.  “I hated myself—hated who I’d become.  My friends weren’t happy either, even though they professed belief in a loving God.  I didn’t want there to be a God, so there wasn’t.”

Armed with a newfound profession of disbelief, David resolved to back his argument intellectually and so he headed to Barnes and Noble to research atheism.  Looking back, he admits the irony, remarking, “To have faith in atheism is no faith at all.  But it was my faith.” 

Not wanting to be “caught off guard” by questions concerning his new faith, or lack thereof, David studied and constructed carefully reasoned arguments to defend his beliefs against the questions of his Catholic friends.  The questions, however, never actually came.

“When you’re a student here, it’s just assumed that you’re a Catholic.  So nobody really asked. “
In the midst of his soul-searching, David found himself spending more time alone as he grew more distant from his old friends.

“When I wasn’t hung-over, I loved to play racquetball,” David recalls. “I met this guy, Joshua , and we would play together all the time.  I knew he was a FOCUS missionary, so I introduced myself as David, an atheist who likes seafood.”

Joshua’s calm, non-reaction to the admission came as a relief to David—and a surprise. “I was like, great, we can continue our friendship.”

And then Joshua surprised him further, by inviting him to FOCUS’ upcoming national student leadership conference. David immediately declined the invitation, citing the cost of the event.  Privately, he was wondering if Joshua had heard him correctly when he had introduced himself as an atheist.

Apparently Joshua had heard correctly but was undeterred. “I think you’d get a lot out of it and don’t worry about the cost, FOCUS will pay for it.”

David considered, figuring that if he didn’t accept, “he might have kept bugging me, but if I just said yes, he’d forget about it and we could get back to playing racquetball.”

But Joshua didn’t forget and a few days later, David found himself on a bus headed for Texas.
“Other than Joshua, I didn’t know anyone who was going and this guy in a black gown, who I later learned was a monk, sits down next to me.  It was like the beginning of some terrible joke—‘an atheist and a monk are sitting in a bus…’”

It turned out that the man in the black gown, Br. Thomas, was a recent graduate of David’s alma mater and a consecrated religious brother. 

David describes the next several hours as “the conversation of his life.”

“We talked.  We didn’t argue.  We just had the greatest conversation.  Ironically, we’d both read some of the same books in recent months – Dostoyevsky, Flannery O’Connor, etc. – but from profoundly differing worldviews, he as a professed religious and I as a professed atheist.”

David arrived at the FOCUS conference absolutely overwhelmed. 

“I was surrounded by all these Catholics.  I had to get away.  I took my book and isolated myself for a couple of hours and then decided I was being stupid.”

Figuring that he might as well attend some of the conference as long as he had made the trip, David reconciled himself to participate, begrudgingly, in some of the impact sessions being offered that afternoon, including talks by Fr. Benedict Groeschel and Mother Assumpta Long.

David remembers thinking specifically during Fr. Benedict’s talk, “Look at this man up here. He knows so much. You don’t know more about the world than he does.  God has this amazing plan for you…if you participate in this plan 100 percent...you’re going to do great things, amazing things…”

But, David then shrugged off the thought. “I probably called myself a little girl or something for having those thoughts, but I had let God in for that brief moment.”   It wasn’t an instantaneous conversion, but it started the ball rolling for him. 

He returned to school and, by the end of the semester he “began to experience tremendous guilt and restlessness like nothing mattered.  The way I was living…I started isolating myself…couldn’t be around my friends, couldn’t stand their carelessness.”

David stayed during the summer session to take some of the theology coursework his degree required and ended up spending several hours each day with Ben, a fellow classmate and FOCUS missionary.  Their time spent together in class soon developed into a friendship.

“He knew the questions I had,” David recounts. “We’d go to bars and talk Scripture over one beer and I’d come home and go to sleep and not wake up hung-over.  I felt good about myself the next morning.”

As the summer progressed and he delved deeper into his coursework, David became increasingly uncertain about his professed atheism.

“I did better in our theology classes than the FOCUS missionary!  I was so drawn to it that all I wanted to do was go back over my notes and soak them in.  I started getting interested in RCIA and the friends that I associated with were mainly FOCUS missionaries.”

By the summer’s end, David was seriously considering Catholicism while continuing to study “all the theology I could get my hands on.”

David now credits those relationships which began so casually in college as “the invitation of a lifetime.”

He entered the Church this past Easter and was recently hired to begin his first year of service as a FOCUS missionary. 

FOCUS Hits Home for the McAdam Family
McAdam Focus Supporters

Q and A with Gary and Claudia McAdam
FOCUS Mission Partners
Denver, CO

You support a FOCUS missionary. Why did you decide to give to FOCUS?

Claudia: We give because we see the good work that FOCUS does on college campuses.  We’re not equipped to minister to those students, but we can help.  Lydia, St. Paul’s first European convert, wasn’t a missionary, but she could support him in his work and she did. That’s how Gary and I feel about being able to support FOCUS missionaries.  They’re the feet on the ground doing the hands-on work. 

What was your first impression of FOCUS?

Gary: I was very skeptical.  My oldest son had gone to private grade school, private high school and private college.  We invested a lot of money in his education.  I figured he was either ready to join me in business or go into business himself but he said, “Gosh, I think I want to join FOCUS,” and I thought, “Boy, becoming a missionary?  This is the wrong direction.”  Looking back on it now, his joining FOCUS was one of the biggest blessings, not only in his life, but in the lives of our entire family. 

You have been giving for more than two years to FOCUS. What is it that compels you to be so committed? 

Gary: Our son did get involved in FOCUS and we had the benefit of having a number of the FOCUS missionaries and students over to our house for dinners and weekends. We were able to see what wonderful human beings they are – how dedicated they are to God, how moral they are and how supportive they are of one another.  Both of our daughters-in-law work for FOCUS.  When our sons married these women, we knew they were dedicated to God—to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church—and we knew they would raise their children in the faith.  The fact that they were in FOCUS answered 90 percent of the concerns we had as parents.

Why do you support FOCUS’ Expansion Funds and General Needs?

Gary: In addition to supporting some of the missionaries, we support FOCUS at the headquarters level.  Like any organization, it takes money to survive, to stay in business, to grow.  The missionaries in the field need help, but the national office needs help to operate and grow properly.  They are a business and we understand the funds it takes to run a business. 

How does supporting FOCUS make you feel?

Claudia: Very blessed.  Through our son being a FOCUS missionary, we have experienced not only how the missionaries minister to the college students, but how the missionaries and students then go home to their families and interact with other friends. The net effect is that the blessings and impact of giving to FOCUS transcends any individual.  It has come back to us.  We’ve grown enormously in our faith because of the young people we know who are involved with FOCUS. They have taught us a great deal in both word and deed.

Gary: Just as an example of that, prior to our son's involvement in FOCUS, I considered myself to be an obligatory Catholic.  I complied with some of the rules of the Church, such as attending Mass on Sunday, but I just didn't really have a true understanding of the Catholic faith or the right relationship with God. 

Since our son's involvement with FOCUS, I've grown spiritually in a lot of ways.  A major turning point came when I attended the national FOCUS conference in Denver, CO. This conference was held in a hotel downtown and a unique feature of the conference was that priests were available for Confession and there was Adoration available from early morning to past midnight.  There were about 1,000 young men and women who attended the conference and, one night, from approximately 10:00 p.m. until midnight, the group was able to watch a pre-released version of Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ.  In fact, the movie’s star, Jim Caviezel, was the keynote speaker on the closing night of the conference.  At the conclusion of the movie, all of these young men and women remained in total silence for approximately 10 minutes in the ballroom.  Many had their heads bowed and many others went to their knees in prayer.  My wife and I watched all of this as we sat in the back of the room. 

As the students and missionaries started to file out around midnight, I made a deliberate point of trying to hear conversations as they left. With all of these late-teens to twenty-something-year-olds, it would not have surprised me to hear talk of sex and going out drinking at this time of night. Instead, what I heard were a number of students saying, “I’m heading up to Adoration” and other students saying, “I’m going to Confession, then maybe I’ll meet you up there.”  I was blown away by the comments and I felt that if these young men and women could dedicate themselves to the Lord, then I could do a much better job of dedicating myself to the Lord also.

Since that time I have been growing in my understanding and relationship with the Lord. I now make it to Daily Mass most of the time and I also visit the Adoration chapel. I drew closer to God because of my son's involvement in FOCUS and the holy people he was around.

Do you get a sense of accomplishment or excitement from your involvement with FOCUS? What provides this sense of accomplishment?

Claudia: We’ve been able to attend two national conferences and those have been very uplifting and enlightening experiences. Seeing thousands of young people at a time worshipping or praying or going to Mass or hearing nationally renowned speakers speak has helped us grow in our Catholic faith.  Not only that, we are enormously excited about the conversions that happen through FOCUS programs on campuses and the religious vocations that FOCUS has spawned throughout the years, including vocations of individuals that we know personally.  It’s wonderful to see the influence FOCUS has in the world and it’s personally gratifying to know it has helped draw us deeper into our faith as well.

As a parent, do you have advice for other parents whose children are thinking of joining FOCUS staff and who might have reservations about it?

Claudia: Let them do it! Your life will be so blessed by having your child involved in FOCUS--far beyond what you can possibly imagine.  And, let yourself get involved! Host student groups at your house, host missionaries, go to events that they’re putting on. You’ll be amazed at what you will learn and what it will bring to your own personal life. 

Gary: Instead of being an obstacle like I was at first, parents should really encourage their children.  In addition, parents should help their children draw up a list of relatives--aunts, uncles, neighbors, friends--there are a lot of people out there who are getting older and they would like the opportunity to leave this world having done something meaningful.  They may not be able to evangelize, but if they really felt that they were able to be part of a team where they could supply the money, that is, be the financial contributor with somebody else on the front line doing the evangelizing, it would be very meaningful in their life.

Is there anything that would cause you to become more involved with and committed to FOCUS? 

Claudia: FOCUS is really at the top of our list.  We tithe and outside of our parish, when it comes to the list of charities to which we contribute, FOCUS is right at the top. 

Note: You may wish to end with a brief thank you to the McAdam family for their support of FOCUS…

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Thank you again for your support of FOCUS and the thousands of students we serve oncampuses throughout the United States.
 
Sincerely,
 
Curtis Martin
FOCUS Founder and President

 
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