At the start of my college career my main hesitation had a lot to do with my Catholic faith. My biggest fear was that with all the distractions college provided, even those not inherently bad like school, work, and sports, I would lose my faith. And that fear was very real, but by the grace of God I was blessed with the opportunity to join a Bible study led by a FOCUS missionary on my campus.
It was in this Bible study that I was not only able to fully encounter and understand my faith in a deeper way, but I was also able to encounter a new sense of friendship and fellowship that I’d never experienced before.
My desire to grow in my Catholic faith was shaped by my time with FOCUS as student. Being able to go on mission trips and conferences helped me to learn more about this great mission and about the Gospel. Over time it was clear that the Lord was calling me to “pay it forward” to other students because my college experience was shaped by those FOCUS missionaries who had once offered me such a simple yet profound invitation. That is one of the reasons why I recently decided to become a missionary and join FOCUS myself.
As a first-year missionary I am leaving the comfort of school and even my family to move more than 800 miles away in order to work directly with college students at the University of Oregon.
While it may take time to get used to all the rain, I am excited to build relationships with every student with whom I have the pleasure of meeting.
As you might know, FOCUS’ mission is based on spiritual multiplication, investing deeply in a few so that they too are equipped to do the same for others. As the cycle continues, the “focus” remains relational as more and more students on the campus are reached.
This practice was extremely visible during my time at University of California Irvine (UCI) in southern California.
I was involved with FOCUS during my three years at UCI and during that time the number of students participating in bible studies and the community at large grew exponentially. We went from having seven students traveling to a FOCUS conference my freshman year to more than 35 my senior year.
The mission is bearing fruit in Irvine and also in many schools throughout the country. I believe we are only getting started at Oregon!
The mission of FOCUS goes even further than the college campus by preparing students for life-long mission. This means using our time in college as preparation to go into the world and become better leaders in our communities.
In my time with FOCUS I have been able to talk with many people, students and working adults alike. There are so many opposing views about mission and the Catholic Faith.
So many people are confused about what it even means to live out their faith. Yet, there are hundreds of FOCUS Missionaries like me who are actively forming the next generation of leaders in the Catholic Church, peer-to-peer.
I am proud to be a part of an organization that seeks to bridge the gap, while showing (not merely “telling”) that mission is so much more than evangelization, it is relationship-oriented and life-giving.
Courage and Commitment… and Gratitude
What we do in FOCUS is not possible without our partners and their constant support in this mission. As missionaries we fundraise our salaries as modeled by Jesus and His disciples.
Our partners are crucial in this mission, as we cannot do what we do without them. In many ways they, too, come on this mission and serve on the college campuses. It’s something I have increasingly become more and more convicted of. As a great saint once said, “Some give by going, others go by giving.”
I love my faith and I hope to invite others to join me in sharing that love with the students God places in my life. I believe we are all called to be saints and I am excited to meet many in my time with FOCUS and at Oregon.
To learn more about FOCUS Catholic missionaries or to help their efforts, go here: FOCUS.org
Cameron De La Torre is a first year FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) Missionary at the University of Oregon and host of the Patron Saint of Film podcast.