By: Father James Brent, O.P., and Father Benedict Croell, O.P.
From the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank you for supporting our mission of itinerant preaching to college students and young adults.
Recently, sixty-five students and FOCUS missionaries from the University of Texas and Texas State University gathered in a retreat house with a spectacular view overlooking the dry plains of Texas. The sunsets were amazing. For three days, we held spiritual conferences on the Holy Spirit, celebrated Masses, and allocated a lot of time for Eucharistic adoration and confessions, as well as singing praise and worship songs together.
There were some spectacular emotional healings for the students and missionaries. It is hard to describe just how much students are in pain. Many come from broken homes and have broken hearts from promiscuous lifestyles, binge drinking, and drugs.
These students wander around in universities that provide them with a lot of information but no real wisdom for life except various conventions of political correctness. For these reasons, the message of healing resonates deeply.
At the end of this retreat, as students lingered during Father James’ Q & A, a student came from campus asking for a priest. No one had ever seen him before, and he was not at the talk. He was in crisis and very emotional. The chaplain was gone, so Father James met with him outside on the curb (the only private place to meet). There he began to share details of his life. The student was a junior, and, so it happened, a philosophy major. With a father who is Catholic but hates the Church and a mother who is a Methodist minister, he had spent his high school and college years studying and practicing a homemade blend of eastern religions. He had been having bizarre religious experiences for some time and was distraught. Hence, he came in search of a priest looking for answers.
Father James was able to connect with him, share the Gospel with him, introduce him to the FOCUS missionaries, and, the next day, to the chaplain. Even now they continue to follow up with him. It seemed so very clear that God brought him there that night.
The Lord did so many things this year. By our count, the Lord granted us to lead eleven retreats and visit twenty-three campuses in dozens of states. All together, we had face time with almost three thousand college students–many of whom were far away from the Church. We referred many young women to congregations of active sisters or our Dominican cloistered monasteries. Who knows how many invisible effects there were? Many seeds of conversion and perhaps vocations were planted for the four Dominican provinces.
This is only a cursory review of all that the Lord did. Each confession, each conversation, each person we “ran into,” each retreat, and everything that happened was full of grace. The Lord did many more things than we could have imagined or planned, and even now so much has receded into memory as we prepare for another semester on the road. This time, we will go for three months. We have learned to slow the pace, take longer breaks between events, and pack fewer events in a day. Even if we do less, the Lord will not do less. He may even do more.
May the Lord bless you, and we thank you for all of your support for our mission. You are the reason we can preach tirelessly across the country.