FOCUS Offers Hope Through Increase in Vocations to Religious Life
More than 1,000 people have entered the seminary or a religious house of formation after involvement with FOCUS
DENVER, April 20, 2023 — Dire news stories of churches closing from the lack of priests instill fear in many Catholics. FOCUS offers hope for the future of the Church by encouraging young people to discern and enter religious life.
More than one third of U.S. seminarians indicated that they have been impacted by FOCUS, according to a 2019 study by the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors (NCDVD).
“If there is another apostolate in the Catholic Church that does more to encourage and support vocations to the priesthood and religious life, I don’t know who it would be,” said Msgr. James P. Shea, president of the University of Mary.
“Countless young people involved with FOCUS, including student and missionary alumni, choose to discern a religious vocation as a result of their experiences with FOCUS Bible studies, discipleship, mission trips or national events such as SEEK,” Shea continued. “These young adults are on fire for their faith and possess a zeal for evangelization that is transforming the Church now — and will do so for years to come. My own priesthood has been strengthened through my involvement with FOCUS!”
Since 1998, tens of thousands of young people have been involved in FOCUS, who after graduation often transition into parish life and continue lifelong Catholic mission in their families and communities. Among these alumni, more than one thousand people have entered the seminary or a religious house of formation after being involved with FOCUS on college campuses. Based on past experience, FOCUS expects that number to nearly double in the next 10 years.
To date, 871 of those FOCUS alumni who have chosen to pursue religious callings have been men, many of whom are studying for the priesthood in diocesan seminaries.
“One of the first things I learned during FOCUS missionary formation was that, to fulfill the Church’s mission to proclaim God’s love to his people and invite them to receive it, I first needed it to hear and receive His love for me,” said Samuel Gerbic, a former FOCUS missionary and second-year pre-theology seminarian at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.
“Through my time spent in daily silent prayer, in fellowship with my teammates, and being ministered to by my campus chaplains, I came to understand and experience the freedom of the Father’s love for me. Once I discovered the mission of the Father’s love, I was filled with the desire to share that love and was able to hear God’s invitation to me to become a channel of that love as his priest.”
Gerbic was one of the 250 seminarians who heard from world-class speakers in the Seminarian Track at SEEK23. More than 500 priests attended the event, and many religious orders participated. SEEK24 is set to return to St. Louis Jan. 1 – 5, 2024.
Fr. Stephen P. DeLacy, vicar for the Office of Faith Formation with Youth and Young Adults in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said, “FOCUS conferences offer amazing opportunities for men and women to respond to their vocations. Whenever there is a conference, we see an influx of men entering the seminary for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. SEEK19 was the catalyst for three men to enter our seminary and helped others begin their discernment. I think every vocation director should attend a FOCUS conference, and every diocese’s strategic plan for vocations should include getting as many college students to conference as possible.”
More than 75 religious orders have received someone who was previously affiliated with FOCUS, including the Sisters of Life, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia (Nashville Dominicans), the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph.
FOCUS is an international Catholic outreach organization, serving nearly 200 college campuses and more than 20 parish communities. Through Bible Studies, one-on-one mentorship, mission trips, conferences and partnerships with priests, bishops and parishes, FOCUS missionaries walk alongside students and parishioners in their journey of faith, inspiring and equipping them for a lifetime of Christ-centered evangelization and discipleship. Since FOCUS was founded in 1998, more than 1,000 people have entered the seminary or religious orders after connecting with a missionary on college campuses. More than 50,000 FOCUS alumni serve in parishes and communities across the world to continue their lifelong mission of evangelization and leading others to pursue lives of virtue and excellence. focus.org