This past Fall, I started leading my first FOCUS Bible study. I had been in discipleship with our FOCUS Greek missionary for about five months, and was finally taking a step outside my comfort zone to reach out to other women and invite them to a small group bible study. I extended a personal invitation to many of my sorority sisters; some accepted, some did not. Only four people came the first week, but the study quickly grew to an average of 7 or 8 women each week. A few months later, in October, two new ladies started coming. Kelly* and Laura* were two freshmen women in my sorority who came randomly one week at their friends’ promptings, but soon became consistent members of the study and regular attendees at Sunday mass.
After getting to know each girl better, I learned that Kelly’s parents are not Catholic, but due to some childhood living arrangements, she had received her First Communion and Reconciliation while living with some Catholic relatives. She expressed a desire to be Confirmed in the church, but wasn’t sure how to go about doing so.
Laura had been baptized in the Catholic Church, but had not received any other sacraments, as her family was not practicing. She, too, also expressed a desire to receive her First Communion and Confirmation.
After speaking with our parish’s deacon in January, he agreed that Kelly and Laura could join the RCIA program (which had started in September) and prepare to be received fully into the church this Easter. The three of us began going to the Thursday evening lessons, and I also met with each girl individually outside of RCIA and bible study to discuss different teachings of the church and help prepare them for their receiving of the sacraments.
To my genuine surprise and humble excitement, Kelly and Laura both asked me to be their Confirmation sponsor. Of course I said yes! We continued to grow in friendship, knowledge of the faith, and in relationship with Jesus over the next few weeks, until finally, this past Easter Vigil, they were received into full communion with the Catholic Church! Standing by their sides as they received the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation and witnessing Laura receive her First Communion was an experience I will never forget.
My discipler, Katie, had given me the tools and resources to facilitate an educational and relational small group bible study, and had shown me how to invest in others while attempting to live out the Great Commission. If we did not have FOCUS on our campus, and had I not been asked into discipleship and started leading a bible study in my sorority, who knows if Kelly and Laura would have ever encountered another path into the church. Through FOCUS, I have learned how to explain various aspects of our Catholic faith to others, how to pray for and invest in people that Jesus places in my life, and how to foster authentic, virtuous friendships while seeking divine intimacy with Jesus Christ. Kelly and Laura are a great example of how FOCUS’ method of growing committed student disciples to lead bible studies impacts lives through the sharing of the gospel and living of the New Evangelization both inside and outside the walls of the Catholic Church through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
*Names have been changed