We often hear students say that they feel “at home” at the Newman Center. What an amazing feeling for students that have traveled across town, state lines or even the ocean to be at UNL. We are a big family here, providing academic, emotional and spiritual support for one another on a daily basis. Beyond that, the Newman Center provides opportunities to be part of smaller specific-interest communities like FOCUS’s Varsity Catholic, a student athlete outreach; Daughters of Mary, a women’s outreach focused on forming relationships with the Virgin Mother; and the Pray for Babies group, a pro-life outreach.
Among these, FOCUS Greek holds its place under the national organization FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) and is aimed at offering spiritual growth opportunities for Greek students on campus. This fall, so many students were attending the weekly meetings that gathering at a Greek house was no longer an option. The group began meeting in the Newman Center’s backyard and have since moved to the parish hall. We are so glad to be able to accommodate the hundreds of Greek students that attend!
Fourteen students and FOCUS missionaries serve as executive officers who plan and execute all of the events. Besides the occasional socials (the group’s most recent event was an Advent party at a local coffee shop), the events usually consist of a talk followed by small group discussion and Q&A session. The speakers range from priests to students to alumni on topics ranging from prayer to alcohol to dating.
Here is a word from one of our officers, senior speech pathology major Kayla West.
“I have been involved at the Newman Center since my freshman year but not seriously involved until halfway through my sophomore year. It seems like I’ve been attending FOCUS Greek for as long as I can remember! I am just finishing up my year-long term serving as secretary on the FOCUS Greek exec team.
During my time on exec, we really tried to foster the community aspect of our group because it’s those bonds and personal encounters that really make the biggest difference (I can say that from experience!). Throughout my time at UNL, it has been so encouraging to be able to walk into a room every week and know that each person there is not only a fellow college student striving for Christ, but a fellow college student striving for Christ who is also part of the Greek system and knows the specific benefits and trials of that culture on campus. I think that’s important for every student who attends our events- just knowing they’re not alone.
In addition to our community, we have great events. We pick people who speak on subjects that are important and relevant to Greek college students trying to live a Catholic life. I can honestly say talks at FOCUS Greek have changed my life. Fr. Mills’ talks have helped me come to a deeper understanding of the Mass and get more out of it. Chas Bogatz, a fellow student, gave a talk that helped me gain a new respect for the Sabbath (it is now my favorite day of the week!). Mission trip testimonies from fellow students encouraged me to go on a mission trip that was one of the best experiences of my life. I could keep going, but I think I’ve made my point!
One of the coolest parts of my time on exec was this semester when we had a student and a recent UNL alumnus approach us on separate occasions, each asking to speak on a topic they were passionate about. How amazing is it that we are given this platform where students can take that initiative to literally stand up and witness to Christ and where we, in turn, can learn the Gospel from our peers? It’s incredible. I am so encouraged by our student speakers, and their example has inspired me not to be afraid of sharing the faith with my peers. I hope that these are all things that every student who attends FOCUS Greek takes away- knowing they’re not alone, learning something new, and being emboldened to be lights for Christ on our campus.”