Catholic Report Interview With FOCUS Spokeswoman Nikki Shasserre: In 8 Years FOCUS Has Branched To 27 College Campuses.† There Are 67 Men And 25 Women Who Have Entered The Seminary Or Religious Life Due In Part To Their Involvment With FOCUS
Dave Hartline†††††††††† Tell us a little bit about Fellowship Of Catholic University Students (FOCUS)
Nikki Shasserre††††††† We were founded in 1998 by Curtis Martin who wanted to help Catholic college students better understand their faith both on Catholic and†state college campuses.† Curtis was raised Catholic but left the Church while in college at Louisiana State.† He found his way back five years later and decided he wanted to help Catholic college students avoid what he had been through.
Dave Hartline†††††††††† How large is FOCUS? Do you plan to expand and how does each campus operate?
Nikki Shasserre††††††† We are involved in 27 campuses in 15 states and we are continuing to grow.† We are only eight years old.† Itís hard to keep up with the growth and requests for us to come to campuses.† We only work in cooperation with other catholic campus groups.† We donít want to go onto a campus without the blessing of the local bishop.† We have four ďmissionariesĒ for each campus, two men and two women.† They assist students with Bible study and Catholic Apologetics.† They are not paid and they raise their money for expenses entirely through local donations and pledges.† Usually local parishes will have parishioners who contribute and keep us going.† We have never had anyone who couldnít raise their monthly expenses.
Dave Hartline††††††††††† How did you get involved with FOCUS?
Nikki Shasserre†††††††† I was having a great time in college.† I was into the party scene and during my senior year, even though I had a job lined up, there was something missing.† I went to one of the FOCUS meetings on my campus and I really felt at ease.† I was getting to know my faith better and I didnít feel empty anymore.
Dave Hartline†† †††††††Any repercussions from the decision to get involved with FOCUS?
Nikki Shasserre††††††† My family was wondering what I was getting involved with but once they saw how happy I was and what the group represented they were glad that my faith was deepening.† I lost some friendships though.† Itís not like I would talk about my faith or the Bible with my friends when we went out but they just didnít include me with certain activities anymore because they knew I was involved with FOCUS.† Jesus warned us about that but I still wanted to go out and have fun but there were certain things I wouldnít do anymore. Maybe that intimidated some of those friends of mine who didnít include me anymore.
Dave Hartline†††††††††† I hear you have had some amazing numbers of folks going into the priesthood and religious life.
Nikki Shasserre††††††† We have had 67 men and 25 women who have entered the seminary†or religious life†due in part†to their involvement with FOCUS.
Dave Hartline††††††††††† That is amazing since your group is fairly new and just starting to take off, what do you attribute your success to and why?†
Nikki Shasserre††††††††† Our founder, Curtis Martin, was able to meet with Pope John Paul II shortly after we started.† His Holiness Pope John Paul II gave him a rosary and told Curtis that our group must be ďsoldiers for Christ.Ē†† Curtis also did a great deal of reading before he came back to the Church. He felt the Eucharist was one of the mains reasons for his return.† There was also the issue of Apostolic Succession.† Curtis felt the Church had a great teaching structure from which to learn.† Itís our responsibility to spread the word of the Churchís teachings in something we call ďspiritual multiplication.Ē†
Dave Hartline††††††††††† I have worked with some great people in the Church.† However, I have also been around people who want to change the Church.† These people are often children of the 60ís and 70ís and practice a kind of youth ministry activism.† Have you run across those folks?
Nikki Shasserre†††††††† We have run across those people but you know the youth of today want to embrace the Church and Her teachings.† I think they want to avoid those bitter people but often they donít know where to turn so thatís where we come in and try to help.† We donít want to change the Church we want the Church to change us.
Dave Hartline†††††††††† Thatís pretty profound.† You know when I tell people about how I am turning my ďThe Tide Is Turning Towards CatholicismĒ article into a book some adults look at me with skepticism but the youth donít. They know what I am talking about. Do you see that?
Nikki Shasserre††††††† I think the tide has been turning for some time but†some don't want†to talk about it, they want to talk about negative things.† I donít know if they arenít aware of all the good things that are happening, especially with our situation and the vocations coming from our group.† The youth we see are tired of all the lies of the world.† They want some help and they are looking to the Church.† They certainly donít want to change the Church, they want the Church to change them.† Comments Click Here