By Bill Brewer
Curtin Martin delivered his unique brand of evangelization to the Diocese of Knoxville on April 18 as a featured speaker for the diocese’s Following Jesus Conference.
(Note: audio recordings of the Following Jesus Conference are available on the Catholic Radio Knoxville page)
The appearance by Mr. Martin, founder of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, as part of the events celebrating the groundbreaking for the new Sacred Heart Cathedral was held at Knoxville Catholic High School and was open to the public.
Speaking to about 250 adults and youth, Mr. Martin gave a dynamic talk about the challenges of living a Christian life in today’s society with so many distractions and temptations. He stressed the need to rely on Catholic teachings and prayer on a daily basis to navigate our world.
Using a Bible as his visual aid and point of reference, Mr. Martin applied Scripture and Catholic beliefs to real-world situations as a way to educate and affirm people’s faith.
Mr. Martin was one of two speakers addressing the diocese during the Following Jesus Conference. He was followed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who led an afternoon talk at All Saints Parish, which is part of the same campus as Knoxville Catholic High School.
FOCUS is one of the fastest-growing movements in the Catholic Church and has a fan in Cardinal Dolan, who has said, “If you’re looking for hope, look to FOCUS.”
Mr. Martin formed FOCUS in 1998 with a pilot program at a small Catholic college in Kansas. He launched the ministry after meeting with St. John Paul II that year to discuss his plans. St. John Paul II responded by telling Mr. Martin to “be soldiers.”
In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Mr. Martin as a consulter to the Pontifical Council of the New Evangelization.
FOCUS recruits young Catholic adults to serve as missionaries on college campuses around the world. In the United States, FOCUS is active on campuses in 35 states and Washington, D.C., including the University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.
Bishop Richard F. Stika has worked with FOCUS to locate a team of missionaries at St. John XXIII parish on the University of Tennessee-Knoxville campus. FOCUS is in its third year at St. John XXIII.
During his visit to the diocese, Mr. Martin took the opportunity to meet with some of the FOCUS missionaries.