Missionaries seek to promote committed discipleship through investment and intentionality 


Photo provided by FOCUS missionaries

“Helping the Gospel become an everyday thing … and doing it in a seamless way,” is how FOCUS missionary Joel Sarmiento described the goals of the FOCUS missionaries at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

This refers to the importance of living the Gospel not just with words but with thoughts and actions, every aspect of life. This is precisely what the FOCUS missionaries live by their own example, particularly on the Franciscan campus.

FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) is a nation-wide ministry that caters to college-aged students. The program stations a few missionaries at various college campuses, secular and Catholic, throughout the country.

Franciscan is blessed to have five FOCUS missionaries serving on its campus this year. Being recent college graduates themselves, the missionaries are able to relate well to the student body but also have more availability to invest in building relationships and walking with the students.

One way they do this in particular is what missionary Alexandra Fontana described as “one-on-one mentorship, deeply investing in students.” For example, the missionaries hold weekly Bible studies, in which they lead a small group of students in discovering the beauty of God’s Word and applying it to their own lives, as well as helping students to grow in community with each other.

In sitting down with Sarmiento and Fontana and asking how they became involved with FOCUS, both said they were invited to join a Bible study their freshman year of college. Fontana, a graduate of Auburn University, said she was first invited to Bible study by a FOCUS missionary on her campus and has been involved ever since.

Similarly, Sarmiento was invited to a Bible study by an upperclassman in his dorm as a freshman at the University of Illinois. Through having a Bible study with just Sarmiento and the older student, Sarmiento was drawn to learn and draw closer to the Lord, having just recently returned from a mission trip.

In reflecting on his decision to later become a FOCUS missionary himself, Sarmiento said, “It was really a call from Jesus to love his flock. I considered other jobs but realized I wanted to give of myself in a radical way.”

Fontana agreed: “In growing and getting to know the Lord, and seeing the deep joy I encountered, I couldn’t do anything than not share.”

One of the most popular events hosted by FOCUS is the SEEK conference, held this school year in Indianapolis, Indiana on January 3-7, 2019. This conference is aimed toward “college-age Catholics seeking purpose and asking big questions,” said Fontana.

The event was further described by Sarmiento as “a conference of renewal and feeling like a part of the Church.” This year, the conference is projected to host 20,000 students from across the country.

All Franciscan students are invited to consider attending this year’s event with a group from the university. If anyone has any interest in attending the conference, they can contact any of the FOCUS missionaries with any questions.

There are several ways that students at Franciscan can get involved with FOCUS. For more information about FOCUS, students can contact the university’s Office of Evangelization or visit the FOCUS website: www.FOCUS.org.

The missionaries would also like to invite any students to pray with them at 9 a.m. Monday-Thursday in the Portiuncula Chapel or to have some fun playing Spikeball outside the Finnegan Fieldhouse on Thursday at 2 p.m. There are also several Bible studies on campus for any students wishing to grow in community and prayer with the Scriptures.

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