"In this day and age it is intellectually irresponsible to believe in God." Two hundred 18 and 19 year-old students, attending a top university, listened to their renowned philosophy professor make this statement in their classroom. While many most likely walked out upset and bewildered, others left in agreement and with newfound doubt and confusion.
While the college classroom preaches moral relativism, numerous studies have shown that the Millenial generation students are seeking truth. The Higher Education Research Institute of UCLA conducted a survey in 2005 entitled Spirituality in Higher Education: A National Study of College Students' Search for Meaning and Purpose (http://www.spirituality.ucla.edu/). The summary statement of this study of 46 colleges and universities found:
Results showed that students have deeply felt spiritual and religious values, are very much engaged in spiritual and religious pursuits, and that such pursuits are far more important to them than most people may assume. But there are clear indications that institutions are not encouraging students to delve into these issues, and academic and campus programs do not seem to support these interests.
"Many expect that a generation born and raised in an era of post-modern relativism would reflect this philosophy of moral relativism," said Monsignor Stuart Swetland, Director of Homiletics and Pre-Theology at Mt. Saint Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, "Yet, the Millennial generation has caught many by surprise, especially in its thirst for religion and spirituality." FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, is one campus outreach that has flourished by presenting the fullness of the Catholic faith to this truth-seeking generation.
The Millennials entered college in 2000. Just two years earlier, in 1998, FOCUS was launched at Benedictine College in Atchison, KS. In ten short years, FOCUS now serves students across the country at 33 campuses in 18 states. FOCUS comes by invitation to a campus, operates out of the local Newman center or other Catholic ministry, and secures the blessing of the local bishop in each diocese where we serve. Currently, over 150 young men and women, recent college graduates, are giving some of the best years of their lives to serve as full time missionaries on college campuses. They give up other dreams and plans, commit to go wherever FOCUS sends them, and raise 100% of their own salary. Add one more commitment to their call: they pledge not to date for their first year on staff to devote themselves fully to their mission.
When the fullness of truth meets the spiritually-hungry university student, absolutely amazing results have occurred. To date, 108 men who were involved with FOCUS as students or missionaries have entered seminary and 33 women have entered religious life. Religious vocations are an exciting fruit, but not the only fruit borne by the outreach of FOCUS. Thousands of young people – many now out in the workforce and starting families – are now navigating life with Jesus Christ at the heart and soul of everything they do.
FOCUS works one-on-one with students on campus, but also brings students together for conferences to build them as leaders, give even more catechesis, and often introduce students to Jesus Christ and the depths of His love for them for the very first time. In January of 2008, FOCUS will celebrate its 10th birthday with its largest and most impressive conference ever. Amanda Graf, a senior at the University of Illinois described the FOCUS 2008 National Conference as this generation's version of Woodstock.
"FOCUS National Conference is a chance to be part of this historical, watershed moment in the New Evangelization. And like all those people got together at Woodstock because they needed to see that other people were living their same radical lifestyle-I need to see that other young people are also striving to live this radical lifestyle. Because I'm not just tired of this culture, I'm tired by this culture," Graf said. "What will happen when thousands of college students who have been fed for four days straight with fellowship, and the sacraments, and the truth go back to their campuses? FOCUS National Conference is going to give us the fuel to set the world on fire."
FOCUS invites all college students and young adults to come spend an extraordinary week with us. Over five days and four nights, at the fabulous Gaylord Texan Resort, FOCUS will bring together Catholics leaders such as Father Benedict Groeschel, Mother Assumpta Long, Alex Jones, Jeff Cavins and Curtis Martin to set young hearts on fire. Celebrities living out their faith in the spotlight will share their stories, including: Eduardo Verastegui, Mike Sweeney, Tarek Saab, Rebecca Dussault and Francis Beckwith. Participants will experience a concert by Grammy-award winning band Third Day, and most importantly, through daily opportunities for personal prayer, Holy Mass, Confession, they will encounter Jesus Christ.
We live in a unique moment of grace in the history of the family of God. In the spirit of John Paul II, FOCUS invites all young people who have a desire to learn and articulate the truth and the beauty of our Catholic faith to join us for the 2008 FOCUS National Conference. It will truly be an experience like never before.
Online registration is easy-visit http://www.focusconference.org/.