FOCUS provides a blueprint to a stronger faith for university students

| Gina Dolski | September 8, 2010 | 0 Comments

CollegeConferences sponsored by the Fel­low­ship of Cath­olic University Stu­dents provide young adults with an opportunity to explore the Catholic Church and walk away with a stron­ger involvement in their faith.

Young adults will have an opportunity to attend a FOCUS conference Jan. 7-9 in St. Paul.

The organization presents conferences nationwide and provides faith programs on college campuses. FOCUS aims to get in touch with college students and guide their faith journey through missionary work.

Nicole Birkman, a junior at the University of Minnesota Duluth who is from Sauk Centre, said that she has grown in her faith through FOCUS conferences.

“Since [the conference], I have been really open to talking more about my Catholic faith,” Birkman said.

During a conference, students attend workshops, which include speakers and musicians who teach about the Catholic faith. The organization also encourages students to bring friends who may be questioning their faith or who have questions about the Catholic faith.

Birkman said that the conference provided an opportunity to introduce her friend to the Catholic faith.

“One of my best friends from high school is not Catholic, but she got a lot out of it and had a lot of questions about the Catholic faith; she was very open,” Birkman said.

Shane O’Brien of Hopkins, who also attends the University of Min­ne­sota Duluth, said that a friend convinced him to attend the conference.

“It was a really moving experience for me,” said O’Brien, who now is involved with campus outreach and plans to apply to be a FOCUS?missionary on a college campus after he graduates.

As for attending the upcoming conference in St. Paul? “I definitely plan on it!” he said.

FOCUS on campus

Aside from sponsoring conferences, FOCUS works with missionaries on college campuses nationwide. Both the University of Minnesota Duluth and the Uni­versity of Min­ne­sota Man­ka­to campuses have FOCUS missionaries.

Missionaries hired by FOCUS are sent to campuses to reach out to students and help them build a relationship with God through Bible study and mentorship, while providing tools to thrive on campus and elsewhere.

Mark Bartek, senior director of FOCUS in the northern region, said he wants to reach other Minnesota colleges.

“Our goal is to expand to as many college campuses as we are able,” he said. That campus presence is meant to strengthen the faith in Catholic young adults and reach others who are in search of faith, he added.

The upcoming conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in St. Paul is part of a four-city tour, which includes Den­ver, Bal­timore and Nashville, Tenn. (See accompanying box for registration information.)

Want to FOCUS?

» What: Fel­low­ship of Cath­olic University Stu­dents conference.
» When: Jan. 7-9.
» Where: Crowne Plaza Hotel, St. Paul.
Regular registration through Oct. 31. Registration continues through Dec. 17 at a higher cost. Register online at

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Category: Colleges and Careers