Alaska Catholic Magazine

FOCUS builds community in Yakutat

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In May, the dream of having a playground in Yakutat became a reality thanks in part to 18 Catholic college student missionaries. The two-week mission was set up and hosted by Craig Johring with Hope of the Poor. Johring does mission work each summer within the Diocese of Juneau in Southeast Alaska. The mission was sponsored by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS).13327602_1117863614901547_6278215885539046176_n

The City of Yakutat worked with the Rasmuson Foundation to design and fund the playground. The playground was custom designed using images from native Yakutat elders, and includes state of the art safety with AstroTurf underneath.

The Catholic missionaries worked alongside a team of AmeriCorps volunteers and city employees during the eight days of construction. The kids in Yakutat counted down the days until the playground was finished.

The lives of the college students were impacted through serving and stepping into the lives of people in Yakutat. In addition to building the playground the students held a Kids’ Bible Club each day at St. Ann’s Catholic Church. After the playground was finished they served the elderly in the community.

The 18 college students experienced the joy of pouring their lives into people and seeing Christ in the lives of people they served. In Matthew 25:40 Jesus taught, “Amen I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine you did it to me.”


Student  spotlight 

During the past 2 years Craig Johring has brought 65 college students involved in the  Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) to Southeast Alaska to serve on mission projects. The lives of these college students have been deeply impacted through the opportunity to serve the youth and the elderly in Southeast Alaska. Rachel Sirois from the University of Maine who took part in the Yakutat Mission in May, shares the following:

“Upon returning home from my May FOCUS mission trip to Yakutat, Alaska, people have asked me: ‘How was it?’ In response, all I have been able to muster up is: ‘There are no words. I would go back in a heartbeat and I want everyone to experience Alaska in the way that I did.’ There are truly no words to adequately describe the genuine love and blessings I received from this mission trip. God worked and continues to work in incredible ways in the lives of all those we encountered in Yakutat. The community is incredibly generous and you can clearly see that they desire to do God’s will and grow in faith each and every day. I recognize that the intention of the trip was to serve and love the Yakutat community, which we did, though they truly served and loved us as Christ loves as well. I can certainly say that I have left a piece of my heart in Yakutat and I cannot wait to go back someday. God is so good!”      – Rachel Sirois

Learn more about FOCUS missions at

FOCUS group

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