With graduation ceremonies recently completed, the newly minted Class of 2019 alumni are seeking to fulfill the college’s mission of “restoring all things in Christ.” While some will be going to graduate school and others will be working in a variety of business industries and political organizations, three new alumni are ready to spread the Gospel as FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionaries, following in the footsteps of many other past alumni in the mission of helping turn the tide against secularism on college campuses.
FOCUS was founded in order to share the hope and joy of the Gospel with college and university students, including those who were brought up Catholic, and those who may have no religious affiliation. That mission proved attractive to graduates Henry Love, Benjamin Marsh, and Nuala Kelly, who were first introduced to FOCUS thanks to dean of students Tim Judge.
A former FOCUS missionary himself, Judge invited alumna Mary Schneider ’18 and other FOCUS missionaries to campus to speak to students. Their testimonies, along with attending FOCUS’ national conference, SEEK, in 2018, had a direct impact on Love, Marsh, and Kelly, ultimately pointing them in the direction of joining the organization after graduation.
“I was able to attend FOCUS’ national conference in my senior year,” says Marsh, a double major in English language and literature and history. “My interactions with other Catholic students at this conference from other major universities showed me what a special education in the Faith I had received at Christendom. From the interactions I had at this conference, I knew I wanted to do more to spread the faith to the modern world. That’s why I applied to FOCUS.”
Christendom’s liberal arts education, along with its vibrantly Catholic culture, proved to be the perfect training ground for their future with FOCUS. Missionaries in the organization are tasked with speaking with students every day on campuses across America, helping them in their journeys of faith. Having strong communication skills is crucial for this, but a well-formed intellect and passion for the Faith even more so. At Christendom, every graduate has taken six classes in Catholic theology, six classes in philosophy, and four classes in the history of Western Civilization – all essential topics for a missionary in the New Evangelization today.
In the case of Love, everything he did during his time at Christendom led to this moment. A mathematics major and Volunteer of the Year award-winner from the Diocese of Arlington, Love was involved in several ministries while a student, including the pro-life group Shield of Roses and the homeless ministry called Mother Teresa’s Children. Those experiences, along with time spent on mission trips in Honduras and leadership opportunities at the college, gave him the ideal background to have a positive impact with FOCUS.
“Through all of my ministry, it has been focused on intentional direct relationships and interactions, with Shield of Roses and Mother Teresa’s Children,” says Love. “What my long-term goal has been in those works is to eventually get to the point of talking with everyday people. Being a FOCUS missionary puts a specific emphasis on having those intentional mentor relationships.”
Kelly, a political science and economics major, knew FOCUS could be the career for her during her junior year. As she continued with her studies, the organization remained on her mind, until she finally applied senior year. The chance to positively impact the lives of young people drew her to the organization, and she sees her time in the Christendom community as the perfect foundation for that goal.
“There are a lot of lonely young people in today’s culture who are looking for love in all the wrong places,” says Kelly. “Christendom’s education and my life in the Christendom community in the last four years has equipped me to go out and bring the truth of Christ’s redemptive love to these college students. FOCUS missionaries take an approach to evangelization which is very relationship based, and life in the Christendom community has definitely helped me to know how to build relationships in an authentic and Christ-centered way.”
Love and Marsh will head to Bismarck, North Dakota, for five weeks of training this summer, while Kelly will do the same in Naples, Florida. In late June, they will find out what college campuses they will be assigned to in the fall. No matter which college campus to which they are assigned, each will have a positive impact on the young people they encounter, bringing their in-depth knowledge of the Catholic Faith and their focus on the truth, along with the Christ-centered joy they experienced on Christendom’s campus to other campuses across America.