USI welcomes FOCUS ministers for 2021-2022 Academic Year

Special to The Message

Many things change in our world regularly, and circumstances at the University of Southern Indiana are no different. COVID-19 has impacted the way we operate, 2021 has brought a usual start to the academic year and we hope to continue with precautions in place.

We welcomed FOCUS missionaries to campus for the first time last academic year. FOCUS is an acronym for Fellowship of Catholic University Students. FOCUS missionaries are recent college-aged graduates who serve on college campuses to enhance the college experience through bible studies, retreats and introducing students to the life-changing reality of Jesus Christ.

These young missionaries work with our existing Catholic campus ministry to engage in peer-to-peer outreach. Focus Founder Curtis Martin said, “For more than 20 years, FOCUS has been striving to help others know Jesus Christ and fulfill His Great Commission through the model we call ‘Win-Build-Send’.” Martin describes this process as:

  • Win: FOCUS missionaries encourage students in authentic friendship, helping them embrace a relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • Build: FOCUS missionaries accompany students into a deeper knowledge and practice of their Catholic faith.
  • Send: FOCUS missionaries guide and encourage students to take up the mantle of leadership, sharing their faith with others, teaching them to share their faith.

University of Southern Indiana FOCUS missionaries attended Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph M. Siegel Aug. 3. Pictured after Mass are Megan St Aubin, left, Thomas Horlander, Bishop Siegel, Zach Piorkowski and Taylor Homan.
The Message photo by Megan Erbacher

Four missionaries are serving at the University of Southern Indiana, and each has written a short introduction for readers of The Message:

Megan St. Aubin

I am originally from Minneota, Minnesota. And yes, you can hear my Minnesotan accent. I love to be outside, especially at a lake with my family. In the summer, you can pretty much always find me on the water with a fishing pole or riding a jet ski. I also have a huge heart for traveling and seeing different parts of the world. I graduated from South Dakota State University with a degree in psychology. I definitely did not enter college planning to be a FOCUS missionary, but the Lord persistently pursued my heart through encounters with the missionaries and the life they invited me into. I quickly found that through prayer, bible study and discipleship with Christ, He was conforming my heart to His. Therefore, I began to see others encountering Him through me. There is nothing quite like having a front-row seat to the work the Lord is doing in the lives of others. In my first year as a missionary I served up at Michigan Technological University, and I am excited to be at the University of Southern Indiana for my second year and to lead this team in my third year with FOCUS. God’s grace is sufficient!

Thomas Horlander

Hello, I’m from the Indianapolis area. After several years of struggling with the feeling of total loneliness and internal emptiness, I joined a bible study. That study and the relationships that followed showed me how God can fill up the emptiness I was experiencing and that, despite my failings, the Father still loves me totally and completely to heal my wounds. I joined FOCUS because I felt the call to be someone who can bring God to others on a college campus through bible studies and deeply personal relationships. I am looking forward to my second year at USI.

Zach Piorkowski

I am from Detroit, Michigan. I just graduated in April from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with a double major in marketing and supply-chain management. I applied to FOCUS at the beginning of my senior year after being asked to by one of my missionaries. After going through the application process and interviews, it was very clear that the Lord was calling me to mission with FOCUS. There are so many men on college campuses who do not know Christ and I want to be able to give them an invitation to know Him. My entire faith journey started with a missionary inviting me into a relationship with Christ and now I desire to do that for other men. I am looking forward to serving the USI campus this year.

Taylor Homan

Hi! My name is Taylor Homan. I got my license in cosmetology and have been working in a salon in Muncie, Indiana, for the last two years. In the Fall of 2019, my life radically changed. I ended up at a fall outreach party that the Ball State University Newman Center was hosting. I met the FOCUS missionaries there and was instantly drawn to them. They had something inside of them that I had never experienced before. I didn't know what it was, but I knew that I wanted it. The more that I spent time with them, the more I realized that what they had was a divine intimacy with Jesus Christ. This led me to prayer, bible studies, authentic friendships and, most importantly, finding my identity as a beloved daughter of God. I know that it is the Lord who has transformed my heart, but it was first the invitation from a FOCUS missionary. I am so convicted of the mission of FOCUS because it has changed my entire life, and I long for everyone I encounter to experience this deep communion of love that they are made for that only Jesus Christ can offer.

COVID-19 continues to change the way we are working together on campus, but our students are meeting in-person for now; and we continue to offer Mass, weekly Confession and Adoration, and weekly meetings. In addition, the work that our FOCUS missionaries are doing includes leading bible studies, discipleship and encouraging students to attend daily Mass with them. As the academic year continues, we are looking for more ways to come together safely to continue to make a difference in the lives of our students. Please keep us in prayer as we pursue this adventure.

Chris Hoehn serves as the campus minister at USI.