FOCUS Student Leadership Summit will be held from Dec 30th – Jan 3rd in Phoenix, Arizona. The conference will feature several nationally well known speakers including Curtis Martin, Scott Hahn, Fr. Mike Schmitz, Jason Evert and Sr. Bethany Madonna. Religious talks, training and prayer will be part of the five days long event. The event will equip students to evangelize effectively on college campuses. The FOCUS Student Leadership Summit is a biannual event that trains FOCUS student leaders in evangelization, discipleship, small-group Bible studies, and prayer. In 2018, around 8,000 people participated in the Summit which was held in Chicago. The Fellowship of Catholic University Students was founded in 1997 by Curtis Martin and Edward Sri at Benedictine College and the ministry has been playing an important role in evangelizing young people in the United States and abroad.
Pope Francis greets pilgrims from Ukraine
Pope Francis extended his greetings to a group of pilgrims from the Ukrainian Eparchy of Mukachevo before his general audience on Wednesday. The Holy Father thanked and praised them for their courage and for keeping their faith in Christ alive over the years, even when they were living in the hiding. Hundreds of priests and nuns were imprisoned or sent to exile during the Soviet oppression of the Catholic Churches in Ukraine that began in the early 20th century. He also recalled the martyred bishop, Blessed Theodore Romzha, who was the Bishop of Mukachevo at that time and was assassinated in 1947.
Pope Francis: martyrdom is the sign that we are going on the way of Jesus
During his Wednesday audience, Pope Francis said that persecution has always been a part of the Church’s life, and that the witness of martyrdom is a blessing for all Christians. He said “Martyrdom is the air of the life of a Christian, of a Christian community.” He stressed that “It is a blessing from the Lord, that there may be in the people of God, someone or someone who gives this witness of martyrdom.” The Holy Father urged Christians to pray for the grace to persevere in their faith amid trials, seeing everything with the eyes of faith and being faithful to their vocation as disciples and missionaries of the Lord.
Archbishop Jose Gomez urges Catholics to pray for Pope Francis
In a letter sent to U.S. bishops, president of the U.S. bishop’s conference Archbishop Jose Gomez urged every Catholic in the United States to pray for Pope Francis, as he celebrates the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on December 13th. The prayers were sent in English and Spanish to bishops and he encouraged bishops to share the prayers with parishes, schools and other ministries. The prayers were developed by the USCCB Secretariat for Divine Worship. Pope Francis was ordained as a priest on December 13th 1969 by Archbishop Ramón José Castellano.
Franciscan University signs MoU with Iraqi University
Franciscan University of Steubenville and the Catholic University of Erbil signed a Memorandum of Understanding on December 6th to promote opportunities for scholarships and to uplift the education facilities for students in Iraq. The Memorandum was signed by Father Dave Pivonka, the president of Franciscan University, and Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, who founded the Iraqi University in 2015. According to the Franciscan University spokesman, the agreement would not only forge ties between the two schools and cities that include cultural exchanges but also pave a way for the Iraqi high school students to visit Steubenville. Students from Iraq would also be able to receive scholarships to study at Franciscan University.