The Spring semester brings with it added pressures for seniors who are trying to plan what comes next. But for some seniors, the traditional plan to enter the job force is not the immediate next step after graduation.
Recently, five seniors took part in a weekend-long interview process with the hope of being offered a position with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, or FOCUS. At stake in the interview process was a potential offer for each of them to become a FOCUS missionary, to be placed at a college or university across the country.
“The weekend is really set up to help the applicants discern where they are called in the mission of the Church,” said Craig Novak, a FOCUS missionary at Loras. “Whether that is as a missionary or elsewhere, it’s meant to help in each individual’s discernment process of answering the question of, ‘If I am not called to be a missionary with FOCUS, then where will I serve?’”
All five students were offered positions despite the large number of applicants from students nationwide. Of the five, four have made commitments to volunteer with the organization for the next two years, and to accept placement at a designated school to be assigned over the summer: Teresa Gwardys, Joel Pohland, Ben Berning, and Kate Mantyh.
“I knew going into the weekend that each one of them had a good chance at getting an offer,” said Novak. “In my mind before the interview weekend, I thought they were all strong candidates and would make great missionaries because each one of them has demonstrated Christ-like leadership in multiple ways on campus.”
Each of the seniors who accepted positions with FOCUS have been a part of the organization on campus and been drawn to its goal: “to launch college students into lifelong Catholic mission.”
“FOCUS has changed my life in a very drastic way and I am so grateful,” said Mantyh. “I have seen it do a lot of good on the Loras campus. The Catholic faith and community is beginning to truly thrive. In addition, it has brought a lot of joy and God’s love on campus.”
At the heart of the FOCUS missionary’s role is to be a Catholic presence on campus and to reach out to students.”
“As missionaries, we try to carry out this vision on campus by one-on-one mentorships and personal investment in the lives of the students, leading small-group Bible studies, and large group outreach such as hosting events, retreats, and conferences,” said Novak. “As I strive to be a saint and living witness by modeling my own life as closely as I can after Christ, I am hoping to pass this along to the students in which they might in turn ‘teach others also,’ not only now, but for the rest of their lives.”
Ultimately, it is this desire to share the faith which led each of the Loras students to pursue a future with FOCUS.
“I love my faith; I love other people,” said Gwardys. “I hope to share my faith with others so that the joy I’ve been blessed with as well as the consolations I receive in times of hardship can be shared with others. I think one of the best things about FOCUS is that it allows others to come to Christ exactly where they’re at in life.”