Faith Formation FOCUS Guest Posts Sisterhood Vocations

Sisters of Life Liven Up Texas

Have you ever experienced heaven on earth? Sometimes it’s in a little white host, sometimes it’s in the face of the homeless man on the street, sometimes it’s in a young child’s smile. For our UT students this week, heaven was in a blue and white habit.

The first time I heard about the Sisters of Life it was through this MTV feature story. Awesome, huh? Then, a couple of my friends from college went to visit the order in New York City and discern with them. And when I became a FOCUS missionary, we were delighted to have a couple of sisters stay with us for several weeks during our summer training. I’ll always remember how the sisters played soccer and volleyball in their habits, in the 90 degree heat, with such joy.

When my teammate Sam told me that Sr. Antoniana, Sr. Bethany and Sr. Benedicta were passing through Austin on a tour of Texas campuses, I knew that students had to meet these lovely women. And not only did our Catholic students need to meet them, the UT campus needed to experience them as well. So, we organized a picnic after Daily Mass outside of our Student Activities Center (pictured below).

As they stepped into our Catholic student center, the students buzzed with excitement to finally meet the sisters they had heard so much about. Their witness sitting in Mass was stirring, and as we walked across campus, I couldn’t help but love the curious looks we got from students. We gathered in a shady area outside one of the busiest buildings on campus and listened to the sisters tell us about their apostolate and every day life.

Sr. Benedicta, Sr. Antoniana and Sr. Bethany with the student of the pro-life group on campus.
The Sisters of Life speak to 30 students on campus about their apostolate, every day life and vocation stories.











If you don’t know much about the Sisters of Life, their charism is “to lay down their lives that others may live.” They provide assistance to pregnant women, invite those who have suffered abortion into healing and educate on the dignity of human life. Sr. Benedicta commented on their most frequently asked question: “A lot of people ask us if we hold a lot of babies. But we want mothers to hold the babies. And we hold the mothers.”

I’m always amazed with what gentleness and sincerity they speak of their guests and the young people with which they work. John Cardinal O’Connor, the founder of the Sisters of Life, said the image of the Visitation is the very image of the sisters. They, bearing Christ within them, bring the light of life to expecting mothers, that the babies may leap with joy as did John the Baptist.

These women are great defenders of life, and we can all learn from them. As we begin our 40 Days of Prayer for Unity of All Women, Born and Unborn, let’s be sure to pray for their apostolate and the growth and health of their order. Let us pray and defend life unceasingly and without reserve.

Apologetics Evangelization Faith Formation FOCUS Guest Posts

A Call to Mission

Howdy, Catholic Sistas readers. Lauren Garcia, here, a FOCUS Missionary at the University of Texas-Austin. I’m so happy to be contributing to this lovely blog. Finding community is essential in the life of a Christian and to use the Internet as a means to that is awesome. I look forward to sharing stories from campus, bringing to light issues young women face and pouring out my love for our most beautiful Faith. But today, I want to talk to you about FOCUS and why I am where I am.

FOCUS is the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Over 13 years ago, Curtis Martin founded the organization in response to the New Evangelization, a call for all of us to fulfill the Great Commission in all walks of life. We choose to serve on college campuses because it’s the place where students are most influenced, where they will make decisions that will effect the rest of their lives, where our future leaders, parents, teachers are receiving formation and information that will change the world, for better or worse. We hope and pray for the better. If I had to say what we do in a few words, I’d give you our motto, “Launching college students into lifelong Catholic mission.” But what does that mean? And what exactly does it look like?

It’s simple, really. I share love. I share life. I strive to preach the Gospel with my life and invite students into that fullness of life our Lord calls us to. If they’re convicted by the love of Jesus to share it with others while they’re in college and for the rest of their lives, I’ve done my job. Or at least, I’ve let God use me as an instrument to help ignite that conviction.

While I was a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I immediately got involved with FOCUS and started leading my own study by my sophomore year. I was formed well, taught about evangelization and sought opportunities to share my faith with my peers. But I don’t think I realized the real burden to “make disciples of all nations” until my senior year, when I was deciding among various graduate schools and serving as a FOCUS missionary. I knew I could start Bible studies and invest in women while in graduate school, so why do I have to be a missionary? So many things about being a missionary scared me: fundraising my whole salary, being sent somewhere I didn’t want to go, giving my whole life and setting back all my plans. And those things I was scared of just gave God the opportunity to ask, “Do you really trust me? Do you really want to make me known?” The answer to both had to be yes.

And here I am, after only a year of serving on FOCUS staff, starting a brand new program at the University of Texas. As a Texas native, I have been praying for FOCUS to go to UT ever since I knew what FOCUS was. And God blessed us this year with the opportunity to come to this influential campus and change lives! Praise Him.

Want to learn more or get involved?

Here’s my personal blog.
Here’s the FOCUS Web site and my fund page.
And here’s why we call ourselves missionaries.

**Lauren Garcia is a missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) at the University of Texas at Austin. A 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska, Lauren is a native of College Station, Texas. She loves reading, music and coffee. Visit her personal blog here.**

Current Events Ink Slingers Jaclyn

The R-word and the D-word

University of Miami Hurricanes

I can’t help putting my two cents in response to Longhorns and Aggies can get along.  I also went to a very liberal school, the University of Miami.  I also disagree about the comments that Catholics are somehow conflicted on politics.

Ever since the shooting in Sweden I have tried to avoid violence and hate in my heart by keeping in mind what we generally have in common.  Most of the time we both want the same thing, we just have very different ways of going about it.  In order to avoid anger I remember that, for example, pro-abortion and anti-abortion both want the same thing.  They both want to protect women and children from abuse, suffering, and being controlled.  They just have different opinions about the best way to go about that.

I’m assuming the other primary issue which divides Catholics politically would be “social justice.”  Again I believe that both Republicans and Democrats (at least according to their platforms) want to help the needy and protect individual rights.  We just have very different ways of doing that.  Democrats want to redistribute wealth and promote alternative lifestyles.  Republicans want to create economic stability by cutting taxes and allowing a free market where people have freedom of opportunity.

I realize that since I am a Republican, this will be biased but I hope I have accomplished my goal of showing that I respect what Democrats are trying to accomplish.  I try to love them by seeing them as individuals with different ideas from mine rather than evil-doers (even if I really do believe they are doing evil).  However as far as I can see none of the platforms of the Republican Party conflict with Catholic values.  There is a major problem with the Democrat platform which is at the core of our belief as Catholics in the dignity of the human person.

I was really shocked to read some of the responses to Pope Benedict at World Youth Day offering forgiveness to those who have committed abortions.  Offering forgiveness is offensive now?  This article in the Slate and the comments to Jen Fulwilers article in response where so full of hate and disrespect.  I certainly can understand being furious when someone is keeping you from accomplishing what you think is right.  It is such a struggle to show kindness and generosity to those who are doing something you find repulsive.  I don’t think that offering confession at WYD is inhibiting anyone’s choice.  Do you?

When I was a student at UM, for the first time I encountered the creature I have come to know as the “liberal Catholic.”  I’ll be honest, I had never met one and never knew they existed.  I had two friends in particular who were a lawyer and a political science professor.  When the 2004 elections took place I put a Bush/Cheney poster in my window because the people I was living with had a big Kerry/Edwards sign in their yard.  My friends who were Catholics in their mid-thirties turned out to be Democrats!  I asked them “How can you be Catholic and Democrat?”  They were also confused “How can you be Catholic and Republican?”  I will admit I was, and for the most part am still, a non confrontational type so I avoid head on argument and never really engaged my friends in a debate.  However I feel I am now ready to engage in a challenging conversation that will hopefully challenge my way of thinking or at least help me to understand my fellow Catholics on the other side of the isle better.

I look forward to being educated if my understanding of these issues needs some supplementation.  I hope I have been charitable and I would invite others to do the same for me.

Go ‘Canes!!!