PIONEERING TEAM REACH OUT TO STUDENTS AT UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
Four American Missionaries have taken Southampton university students by storm, in a pioneering way
of bringing Christ's love to campus. Amidst an ever more disorienting environment, where binge-drinking and “no-strings-attached” are the norm, the quartet from Denver-based FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) have touched the lives of so many students since their arrival last June. Their success? Investing in the individual. They meet the students where they are, in every corner of campus, to share their time, their interest and their love.
“We hope to encourage students to deepen their relationship with God through authentic friendship,” said Missionary Team Director, Kaitlin Gilday, “help them build up their faith and send them out on one-to-one discipleship missions of their own.”
A vibrant community has now formed, with 40 students even involved in bible study groups and setting up bible classes of their own. Attached to the Faith and Reflection Centre on campus and liaising closely with the Catholic Chaplaincy, the first representatives of FOCUS in the UK comprise Kaitlin Gilday, aged 28, Shea McMahon, aged 30, Sarra Stanley, aged 29, and Anthony Thomas, aged 25.
After encountering students in friendship, the missionaries invite them to take part in chaplaincy activities, bible study, Eucharistic adoration, outreach events, mission trips and fun. The effectiveness of their mission is entrenched in their approach to the notion of evangelisation itself. It’s “incarnational evangelisation”, and the aim of the game is not to tick off events or hand out leaflets, but something much simpler and more beautiful: “it is actually becoming the Word incarnate,” Kaitlin explained, “becoming Jesus Christ to others, through our love and time with them, listening to them.”
All you have to do is
share your life with these people, enter into their lives and invite them into your life.
The group have all undergone intensive formation in scripture, Catholic doctrine and pastoral theology to aid them in their mission. They also have training all year round, including Team Development meetings and a five-week summer posting to the USA.
“FOCUS has helped me become much more grounded and given me insight into my faith journey,” said student Toby, who was first attracted to the missionaries’ “innate sense of joy”; something he wanted to experience for himself.
“They were always welcoming and supportive while having a strong value in the community and family-like aspect of their mission,” he continued, “and got me to think more about my actions, life choices and what I really need to be happy.”
Click below to find out more about FOCUS.