Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Getting into FOCUS

Happy Birthday, Mary! Today is the feast of the birth of Mary, the mother of our Savior. St Andrew of Crete once said, “Today the Virgin is born, tended and formed, and prepared for her role as Mother of God, who is the universal King of the ages”. Today’s feast also helps us to enter into the feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8. For some reason, many Catholics think that Dec. 8 celebrates the conception of Jesus. But, it honors the conception of Mary, exactly nine months ago today. Jesus’s conception is celebrated on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, which is nine months before Christmas.

Tuesday nights are becoming one of my favorites at the Newman Center. We started with Mass and, again, had a large number of students. The first two Tuesday evening Masses have averaged about 45 students, thanks be to God. I could get used to that! Then, about 70 students were here for our weekly Tuesday dinner. It was another quality home-cooked meal (done by our students). After dinner, the FOCUS missionaries led a discussion about faith in college which evoked quality comments from students, including several freshmen.

One of the missionaries, Dan, began the discussion with a talk about his own life of faith growing up and during college. It set a solid tone for others to ponder and reflect on where they are and have been in their faith. One of the things that struck me while Dan was speaking was the reason we were all together last night in the discussion. He was speaking to a room of virtual strangers, sort of bearing his soul in regards to his faith. He didn’t know any of us here at GW a month ago and now he is speaking to us as if he’s known us for a long time. It hit me that he came to GW without family or friends…almost all alone.

This is true of all the FOCUS missionaries. They just met a couple of months ago and just met us a few weeks ago. They have left everything to come here – family, friends, career, relationships (at least in the first year), etc. Why? What is the purpose of all of this? Why was Dan bearing his soul to a room of strangers, for all intents and purposes? What brought him and the others to GW? Jesus Christ. They have all left everything behind for Christ. They have come here to bring Christ to GW students and me. It is such a powerful witness that hit me last night and will hit our students this year.

FOCUS is obviously into our students and our students are starting to get into FOCUS! At our Opening BBQ , about 450 students filled out FOCUS / Newman Center forms. Almost half of them said that they are interested in Bible Studies and discussions (that FOCUS offers). Wow! Pray God, they will respond when the missionaries invite them individually to the groups. That’s when the students will see what I saw last night, if they haven’t already. And that is, they will see Christ. The main purpose of FOCUS, the main reason I brought them here, is to engage college students in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Before, during, and after all of the study of Scripture and teaching of the Church, the witness of the missionaries is what shows the students Christ. It was a powerful moment for me last night and will be for our students to see that these bright, talented, and dynamic young men and women have sold everything to follow Jesus and to bring Him to others.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"It hit me that he came to GW without family or friends…almost all alone."

I wonder how many folks picked up on your priestly insight FG? We are never "all alone." Christ is always there with us. Great point to make.