FOCUS founder, Curtis Martin, to share message of evangelization with people of all ages at popular University of Mary event

 

BISMARCK, ND — What type of person has the vision to bring together hundreds of college students across America? ­What type of person inspires those same students to rally thousands more at campuses across the country so they’re fired up about their faith? What type of person can sustain that momentum, that energy, that synergy, for nearly 18 years and counting, to make this evangelization with today’s youth the fastest growing national Catholic outreach today?

Curtis Martin, founder and president of FOCUS

Curtis Martin, founder and president of FOCUS

He’s Curtis Martin — a man who has first-hand experience of losing his Catholic faith as a child only to start finding it again in college. Through an involvement with an interdenominational evangelical Christian group during his years at Louisiana State University, he discovered that there was no such organization for young Catholics like him who had fallen away from their faith. Later in life, that realization inspired him and his wife Michaelann, to create a crusade of young people, fresh out of Catholic colleges and universities, that go back to school — mostly secular campuses — and meet those Catholic peers where they are and help them rediscover or search for a deeper understanding of their faith. That’s the genesis of their evangelization missionaries called FOCUS — Fellowship of Catholic University Students.

Martin, FOCUS founder and president, brings his message of inspiration to the popularly acclaimed University of Mary Prayer Day Friday, February 5, 2016, 10 a.m., in the McDowell Activity Center (MAC), on campus. Also at that time, a morning prayer with Most Reverend David Kagan, bishop of the Bismarck diocese, precedes Martin’s keynote address. The day begins with an 8:30 a.m. breakfast. Mass is scheduled for noon in the Our Lady of the Annunciation Chapel. The 38th annual Prayer Day event is $10 for the entire day. Preregistration is available online at www.umary.edu/prayerday or by calling (701) 355-8102 or (800) 408-6279, ext. 8102. (Be advised, day and times of Prayer Day activities have changed from past years).

“Curtis Martin joins a long line of Christians who have offered hope to the world and reasons for that hope,” said Dr. Peter Huff, director of the Center for University Ministry and professor of theology at the University of Mary. “In just a few short years, he and his growing team of young idealistic missionaries have re-energized Catholic higher education across the country. Students and parents in our region know that a campus with FOCUS is a school they can trust. A grateful University of Mary welcomes Curtis Martin to Bismarck. We are honored to number him among our Prayer Day speakers.”

The popular and national Our Sunday Visitor (OSV) magazine named Martin one of America’s “Catholic stars” in a 2013 article. In that same story, Martin is quoted as saying, “We live in a time of spiritual crisis, and that’s fantastic news for those of us who have been called to greatness. When things break down, greatness is needed to rebuild. It’s a dark culture, but light shines farther in the darkness. FOCUS is about helping young people ‘glow in the dark,’ to shine with the light of Christ and transform poverty in whatever form.”

FOCUS, headquartered in Golden, CO, is growing each day as a lay group working hand-in-hand with Catholic parishes and Newman Centers across the country with over 425 missionaries serving on more than 100 campuses. The University of Mary currently has alumni working as FOCUS missionaries on other campuses and also hosts a FOCUS chapter led by Meagan Kline, FOCUS team director.

“The annual Prayer Day provides us with opportunity to show students how important prayer is to deepening their faith and helping them listen for God’s guidance in their everyday lives,” said Kline. “We are excited to have FOCUS CEO and founder Curtis Martin speak this year, as his passion for sharing the mission of FOCUS continually inspires our staff and students.”

Pope Benedict XVI in 2011 appointed Martin to be consulter to the Pontifical Council of the New Evangelization – one of three persons decreed by the Holy Father. He holds a master’s degree in theology, is the author of the best-selling book Made for More, and co-hosts the groundbreaking show on EWTN, Crossing the Goal. He and Michaelann also co-authored Faith Matters: A Bible Study on Marriage and Family.

In an interview with Legatus magazine, Martin said he teaches his missionaries to think about “spiritual multiplication — the idea that if one person makes disciples of two people, and these two people make disciples of four people and so on, by the end of 25 years, 33 million people will have been converted.”

The scope of this Martin most likely never would have imagined or dreamed of when he founded the pilot program in 1998 on the campus of Benedictine College. What began at that time with Pope John Paul II’s blessing and encouragement to “be soldiers,” has inspired Martin to be that type of person he has become — igniting generations of college students into a relationship with Jesus Christ as a pay-it-forward like discipleship.