UP Catholic 04 01 2016 E Edition Page 19

BY GREG GOSTOMSKI THE DIOCESE OF MARQUETTE Counsel the doubtful, the second Spiritual Works of Mercy, takes many forms. Sometimes the person provid- ing the counsel is a priest, parent, or other authority figure, and sometimes it is a peer. The college years are a natural time of seeking. Students decide what subject they would like to study and make into a career. Some are discern- ing where they would like to live once leaving college, and others are seeking relationships that will sustain them through life. At a deeper level, stu- dents seek meaning, purpose, peace and happiness for their lives. Many students are seeking in regards to their faith as well. Having grown up in the faith tradition and practice of their parents, students choose to abandon the practice of their faith, explore other faith traditions, or embrace the faith of their youth as their own, and deepen it. Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) helps students embrace their faith through Sacred Scripture and train them to share their faith with their peers. FOCUS trains college students to lead Bible studies and provides resources for doing so. These people, called student missionaries, form a fender- exclusive group which is open to all faiths, or no professed faith and begin studying Scripture. Over time, the student missionary identifies a student in their group who they think would make a good missionary and invites them to consider being trained to lead their own group. The mission- ary meets with the student separately and works with them one-on-one, teaching them to teach. This approach of FOCUS, rooted in the model of Jesus and the Apostles, centers on authentic relationships. It invests in the lives of people in a sustained way, seeks to cultivate real friendships, and encourages discipleship. This model reflects Bishop John Doerfler's approach; Be a friend of Jesus, make a friend, introduce your friend to Jesus. FOCUS has taken root at Michigan Technological University in Houghton and is beginning at Northern Mich- igan University in Marquette. Isaac Hermann and Abby Steinbrecher are student missionaries at MTU, and Ol- ivia Theut, a student at NMU is lead- ing a group there. Each student has followed a slightly different path to where they are now, but all three lead Bible study groups, and are discerning the next generation of missionaries. Hermann and Steinbrecher were involved in Bible studies and invited to lead groups of their own. Theut was introduced to FOCUS during the an- nual Catholic Campus Ministry retreat and was trained by a missionary over Skype to lead sessions. Each of their froups meet on-campus, in a public place, and by doing so provides an evangelizing presence to passers-by. Theut states that FOCUS, is a really food tool for small communities. College students are seeking. Not only does the experience of leading froups help the student missionaries build others' faith, but it also has an effect on their faith life. Steinbrech- er has grown immensely in her faith, and has become comfortable reaching out to encourage others. Hermann has noticed an increase in Mass attendance at St. Albert the Great and believes it is due to the work of FOCUS missionaries. Father Ben Hasse, pastor of St. Al- bert the Great in Houghton believes in the FOCUS model. It seeks to nurture generations of missionaries and invests significantly in the lives of people. The ministry of FOCUS takes a natural time of seeking, helps them to realize that it is Christ they are seeking and leads students to him. Throughout this Holy Year, The U.P. Catholic will be highlighting the works of mercy taking place in our parishes and communities across the Upper Peninsula. If you have a story and pictures of a person or group of people who are actively en- gaging in works of mercy, email your suggestion to The U.P. Cath- olic at news@ dioceseofmar- quette.org. www.upcatholic.org THE U.P. CATHOLIC YEAR OF MERCY April 1, 2016 19 Diocesan collection dates: April 23rd - 24th Mercy Corner: Peer ministry used to counsel the doubtful COURTESY PHOTO Isaac Hermann and Abby Steinbrecher, students at Michigan Technological University, serve together as student missionaries on their college campus.

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