Conference participants take selfie with Sister Maria Anne Michela, S.V., at a recent FOCUS conference.
Tens of thousands of students have been involved with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) since its founding in 1998. Within this number, 732 staff and student alumni have made decisions to pursue Catholic religious vocations. This total includes 160 women, such as Sister Mariana Benedicta, S.V., who professed her final vows with the Sisters of Life in 2018.
Before entering the Sisters of Life in 2009, Sister Mariana Benedicta was involved with FOCUS as a student at Williams College. After graduation, she served as a FOCUS missionary at the University of Vermont and at Mount St. Mary’s University.
“As I deepened in my faith, my life of prayer and my relationship with Jesus, my heart was deeply struck by the beauty and truth of the goodness and dignity of each human person. I was struck by the reality that God has a loving plan and purpose for each of us and desires our flourishing and freedom,” said Sister Mariana Benedicta, who is one of 11 FOCUS alumni who are in the Sisters of Life community.
“What began in college as a quiet whisper grew into a gentle tug on my heart while I was a FOCUS missionary. It was an invitation that I couldn’t ignore: the invitation to belong totally to Jesus as a Sister of Life, to make a free gift of my love and my life to Him and to each of His children. My involvement in FOCUS provided the community life and the space in which my faith could grow — in which I could hear and follow His loving call in the depths of my heart.”
Last year, the Sisters of Life partnered with FOCUS to create short videos inspired by stickers that the sisters designed to use in their ongoing evangelization efforts with FOCUS teams on three Colorado college campuses. These videos are featured on the FOCUS YouTube channel.
FOCUS and the Sisters of Life regularly partner on talks at national events such as SEEK2019, which included Sister Bethany Madonna, S.V. In addition, the recent SaveLivesU webcast series featured Sister Mariae Agnus Dei, S.V., postulant director for the Sisters of Life.
Nearly 40 religious sister organizations sponsored SEEK2019, including the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, who have had more than 20 FOCUS alumni join their community over the years. Commonly known as the Nashville Dominicans, the religious sisters have encountered thousands of students at national FOCUS events and through campus experiences.
“Each vocation is the work of the Holy Spirit!” said Sister Peter Marie, O.P., vocation director for the Nashville Dominicans. “It is a tremendous gift that FOCUS has created an atmosphere, for both the missionaries and the students they serve, to hear and respond to the Holy Spirit’s invitation to give all to Christ. As students on their college campuses, many of our sisters met or encountered the Lord in a deeper way through the work of FOCUS and in turn were able to discern that He was calling them to a life of total consecration as a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia. How beautiful!”
FOCUS was founded in 1998 and invites college students into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church, inspiring and equipping them for a lifetime of Christ-centered evangelization, discipleship and friendships in which they lead others to do the same. .focus.org