The following comes from a September 14 OC Catholic article by Allyson Escobar:
When California State University Fullerton (CSUF) English major, recent graduate, and new missionary Jeena Rudy met her first college campus missionary, she thought her job sounded awful.
“Look at me now,” Rudy, a parishioner at St. Joseph’s in Placentia, laughs. “I always knew that I had a call, and that I was going to follow that…but I was being stubborn to actually doing it.”
Rudy and three others from CSUF, one of the largest universities in Orange County, have become new missionaries of Fellowship of Catholic University Students, or FOCUS. The organization was established in 1998 by Curtis Martin, who saw an alarming trend of young Catholics abandoning their faith, particularly in their college years. With over 500 missionaries on 125 college campuses nationwide, FOCUS’ mission is to serve students, encouraging them to have a deep, personal relationship with Christ.
“Instead of a ‘come here, go to our event’ approach, we’re more of a ‘we’ll come to you,’ and meet you where you are,” shared Gelton Morada, a Cal Poly Pomona graduate who served on Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Catholic (Newman) club as spiritual formation chair, who is excited to be a first-year missionary with FOCUS.
“We’re like spiritual soldiers, comrades, accompanying others in their suffering. We are an invitation of bringing Christ closer. We might not see the ripple effects, but we know something is going to get out of it…we could be working with future saints,” Morada said.
Accounting major Christopher Garcia, from St. Joseph’s in La Puente, explained FOCUS in a nutshell: “There is a huge amount of spiritual poverty in our world; people who are depressed, searching for meaning. Here in the US, we are blessed with such a higher standard of living, and yet there’s an emptiness. But we aim to restore that joy and peace—not just feeding people with food, but more importantly, spiritually.”
Garcia expressed his initial worries and hopes for the mission work, which requires at least one year of team service on an assigned college campus. Garcia, who graduated this past semester at Cal State Fullerton, had his life turned upside down when he encountered FOCUS on campus.
“I had no idea what it was, or why we had missionaries coming here,” he said. “The concept of domestic Catholic missionaries just seemed so strange to me, and was something I fought against a lot, internally. I even rejected my initial offer to serve in November.”
Garcia grew closer to the missionaries who came to Fullerton over the past two years, many of whom helped to shape his spiritual journey throughout college. After participating in a student FOCUS mission trip this past spring in Mexico City, Garcia had a major wake up call.
“I was praying in front of the shrine of Our Lady [of Guadalupe], and I felt such a genuine sense of love. I knew a big part of this experience was thanks to the missionaries I had, and the work and time they put into me. I knew in that moment that I couldn’t contain this joy that I felt for my faith and my God; that this was something I knew I needed to pass on with others, not be selfish with and keep to myself,” he said.
After taking it to prayer, Garcia knew where he was being called. “I was fortunate enough to be raised in and around the Catholic faith, and it’s been important to me to keep sharing my faith with others,” he said. “I gave up a job offer in an accounting firm to become a missionary. It did so much for me to have FOCUS walking with me in an isolated commuter campus [like CSUF], made me feel like I was valued beyond my work.”