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September 9, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
 
Fundraising effort to begin in 2014
 
Dynamic leader of SPRED ministry reflects as she retires
FOCUS on bringing
Cal students closer to Christ
 

Darrin Schultz, Cindy O'Boyle, Maya Neam and John Wojtasek, pictured on a recent retreat, have come to the University of California at Berkeley to share the Good News.
Courtesy photo

As students at the University of California at Berkeley begin classes, there are four fresh faces on campus on a mission.

Literally.

Through the Fellowship of Catholic University Students — its acronym is FOCUS — the two young men and two young women will live among the college students, inviting them to small group Bible study and befriending them on a campus that, with its 35,800 students, can sometimes feel overwhelming.

The four missionaries will be parishioners at Newman Hall/Holy Spirit Parish, where Father Bill Edens, CSP, will serve as their chaplain. Father Edens spent a few days with the quartet while they were training at Ave Maria University in Florida this summer.

The Berkeley campus is one of three California campuses — the others are the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of Southern California — to which FOCUS has expanded this year. The Berkeley campus is the 83rd for FOCUS, which was founded in 1998.

For Newman Hall, the presence of the missionaries on campus is welcome. "They're on campus finding the Catholics we don't see," said Father Edens.

 
Newman/FOCUS

Newman Hall/Holy Spirit Parish

2700 Dwight Way, Berkeley

www.calnewman.org

To learn more and support the FOCUS team at Cal:

www.focus.org or teams.focusonline.org/Berkeley

 
The four missionaries are planning to move into two apartments on the south side of the Berkeley campus, and spend their days engaging Berkeley students in conversation.

"We want to be where the students are," said Darrin Schultz, a graduate of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and a first-year missionary. Schultz said he is from a town in Nebraska that's so small the closest stoplight was not only 30 miles away, but in the next state.

Cindy O'Boyle is the team's leader. The Montana native and graduate of Carroll College there is in her second year with FOCUS. Last year she served at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She said the goal is not for people to be faithful in college alone, but "we want them to live a lifelong Catholic mission."

After her graduation from college, O'Boyle spent a year in Alaska. "Although I consider my faith the center of my life," she said, "I didn't know how to convey it."

She learned about FOCUS online. "I wanted to learn how to share my faith, how to reach my peers," she said.

In addition to engaging students in conversation, prayer and participating in Mass at Newman, O'Boyle has an additional goal: "I want to build up student leaders, to own their faith on campus."

O'Boyle sums it up: "I want to live a life worth imitating, and invite others into that life. It's more radical than anything else you see at Berkeley."

Maya Neam, a first-year missionary, said she went to church during her days as a student at Colorado State University "but always bolted after."

A FOCUS missionary on her campus invited her to have coffee, and invited her to her home. The result was that "I developed my prayer life," she said. "I have a relationship with God and not just go to church."

She said she felt called to do for others what had been done for her at Colorado State University.

At John Wojtasek's fraternity at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, he grew not just as a brother, but spiritually through Bible study.

"I've always had a missionary spirit," he said. But on a spring break mission in Haiti, in the midst of material poverty, he said Mother Teresa's words about the spiritual poverty of the West came to him.

In FOCUS, he said, "I can serve as a missionary in my own country."

The missionaries, all well-spoken and determined, are ready to meet the challenge of meeting Catholics, as well as defending their faith on the Berkeley campus.

"There is no following Christ at a safe distance," Schultz said. "There's no safe at all. This faith we have … this changes everything."

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