During the days of May 15-28, 2015, twenty-three students and FOCUS staff from 19 different universities served in Yakutat, Alaska on a FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) Mission. Yakutat is a small community at the very northern region of the Diocese of Juneau in Southeast Alaska, approximately 200 miles north of Juneau, and is home to about 650 residents. There are no roads leading to Yakutat. A 21-hour ferry from Juneau will take you there, or an Alaska Airlines flight from Juneau or Anchorage.
The objective of the FOCUS mission was to serve the community and invest in lives, while sharing the love and hope of Christ. The priest serving the FOCUS mission was Father Steve Gallagher from the Diocese of Juneau, and the FOCUS missionary leading the Mission was Devon Kathol of Colorado. Craig Johring set up the logistics in advance and guided the mission. The mission served the elderly and those in need of help and encouragement. Students had the opportunity to learn the culture and traditions from Native Alaskans while being surrounded by God’s breathtaking creation.
Each morning started early with a Holy Hour, followed by Mass. The mission took on projects in the community under the direction of the City government, the Forest Service and members of St. Ann’s Catholic Church. In the afternoons the FOCUS students gathered youth in the community for a Vacation Bible School – Kids’ Bible Club. Others worked on trail maintenance or beach cleanup. Each evening volunteers from churches in the community cooked amazing meals for the FOCUS team. The students enjoyed fresh salmon, halibut, and clams. Each evening students gathered for a bonfire on one of the Yakutat beaches. On most evenings kids and adults from the community gathered with the FOCUS mission for a bonfire and played soccer or surfed.
The hospitality the group received in Yakutat was amazing. The lives of the students were impacted from the experience of serving and from the time they spent with people in Yakutat. The lives of the FOCUS students were deeply impacted from having conversations with Father Steve, as well as the Holy Hour and Mass each day, and the opportunity for confession. Each day in Yakutat was filled with great conversations between the FOCUS students and people in Yakutat.
FOCUS: Who are we?
The Main Thing:
Inviting 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 friendship in which they lead others to do the same.
“To know Christ Jesus, and to fulfill His great commission by first living and then communicating the fullness of life within the family of God, the Church.”
Rooted in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, FOCUS was born out of a passion and zeal to share how a relationship with Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith can transform the world. Beginning with our nation’s future leaders, FOCUS sends teams of young, trained missionaries to the college campus in order to reach students with the gospel. In partnership with the university parish and/or Newman Center, FOCUS missionaries host large group outreach events, weekly Bible studies and offer one-on-one mentoring with student leaders.
We welcome young adults from all walks of life and religious backgrounds to our events. Through the personal investment and dedication of our missionaries, FOCUS helps to build a joyful, Christ-centered community and support network on each campus where we have a presence. Students are encouraged to join the missionaries at daily Mass and in prayer, the most vital commitment our missionaries make each day.