I am blessed to serve a third year as a FOCUS missionary at Florida Atlantic University with my team: Claire, George and Sal!
I am excited to once again bring the joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to college students at FAU.
At the beginning of Spring 2012, a young woman at the University of Florida (UF) entered my life. She was a student leader with a women’s Bible study on campus. I joined her Bible study and found a small community of women who made me feel seen, known, and deeply loved through the transforming power of Jesus Christ and the Gospel. At the end of my freshman year, the young woman, Kathryne, asked me into FOCUS Discipleship, inviting me to dive deeper into my Catholic faith through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and formation. When Kathryne invited me, I knew that this decision would change the way I had been living my life as a college student the previous year, so I cautiously said “yes”, not knowing the great change God would bring into my life for the better through my “yes”.
I rediscovered my Catholic faith anew as Kathryne taught me how to pray on a personal level with God, to participate regularly in the sacraments through daily mass and regular confession, and to live virtuously to the standard of Christ as a college student on a secular campus. She also introduced me to the greater Catholic Gators community, which brought about new Christ-centered friendships that still last to today. As I continued to grow in my faith, I began leading Bible studies and investing in two more students on campus.
Rachael Tvrdy, FOCUS missionary, and Kathryne who invested in me & Emma (Top to bottom)
Catholic Gators at SEEK2015 in Nashville, TN
Graduating Catholic Gators Class of 2015, with Hieu, one of the women I invested in, next to me on the right.
After my time at UF, I attended the Augustine Institute in Denver to study the Catholic faith on a graduate level, receiving my MA in Leadership for the New Evangelization in 2017. I then moved back to my hometown of Melbourne, FL to teach high school theology at my alma mater for 2 years. After my time as a teacher, I returned to the college campus as campus minister at Florida Institute of Technology, where I rediscovered my love for college ministry. With this rediscovery, I returned to FOCUS as a missionary and now serve at Florida Atlantic University.
My professor and some classmates from the Augustine Institute on our hike from St. Mary’s Glacier to the peak of Mt. James
One of the greatest blessings God gave during my first year of mission: In March 2021, I attended Sr. Kathryne of the Holy Trinity’s profession of final vows to be Christ’s bride forever!
I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if it wasn’t for FOCUS on campus and Sr. Kathryne of the Holy Trinity. The trajectory of my life was forever changed because of her “yes” to follow Christ as a student, to reach out to me on campus, and to deeply invest in my formation in college. I am eternally grateful to the Lord for leading her to me and for allowing her to be my guiding light to lead me to Him.
As a missionary, my greatest desire is to lead all students to Christ, as FOCUS and Sr. Kathryne did for me at UF. My life has been transformed by Jesus and I want nothing more than to bring this joy to others and introduce them to the life-changing message of the Gospel. In His ministry on earth, Jesus humbled Himself to meet us on our level, taking on our humanity, and spent most of His time investing deeply in a few. I look to Jesus own example to find the best method of reaching the world. I’ve been constantly amazed by the different souls I’ve encountered on campus.
When I answered the call to join FOCUS, I made the decision to rely on the spiritual and financial support of mission partners to help me through this mission. I’ve been blessed with the most amazing people who have journeyed with me as I serve on campus. If you are interested in partnering with me, please let me know of the best way to reach you and I will schedule an appointment. I’d be honored to share this mission with you!