Catholic college group helping to battle priestly shortage

.- A national campus ministry group is inspiring a growing number of young men to enter the seminary. The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) is a national outreach program whose goal it is to form Catholic communities on college campuses where students can follow Jesus and live out their faith.

The model includes Bible study, leadership training and one-on-one discipleship. In seeking to bring the fullness of Christianity to students, it has helped inspire at least 67 men to enter seminaries and 25 women to enter religious life.

Deacon Peter Mussett credits FOCUS with helping him perceive and discern his call to become a priest. He will be ordained a priest this month.

According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate 27 percent of parishes do not have a resident priest; the total number of priests, between 1950 and 2000, increased by only 6 percent while the Catholic population increased by 107; and, there are more priests over 90 (433) than there are under 30 (298).

Young men like Benjamin Barron however, are striving to change that. "FOCUS gave me an outlet to learn more about my Catholic Faith and to be around others who cared about their faith", the second year student at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Minneapolis said.

"My FOCUS Bible study was a good fraternity of men, and we held each other accountable to lead a good life. I made some good friends and discovered I didn’t have to be a ‘dork’ to be a good Catholic."

FOCUS was founded in Atchison, KS, by Curtis Martin, a Catholic speaker and author. It now has 100 staff working on 27 campuses in 15 states. FOCUS is headquartered in Greeley, CO

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