Goodbye Montclair

Men Senior Send Off

Goodbye Montclair. Wow it’s hard to believe that it’s already been two years. It seems like just yesterday I jumped out of my car on a late August night, Illinois snapback and all, to be greeted by Father Jim and Mike (the first one). Father Jim quickly grabbed some things to help me bring them upstairs, but Mike just stood to the side awkwardly. “Uh, Mike, are you going to help?” He responded that ever since he donated his spleen (or whatever organ it was) to his friend, he can’t do any physical activity for a few more weeks. So that’s how my #mishlife started…

I didn’t even know where Montclair State University was. No lie, I thought that it was in Montana at first. It started with an M and Father Jim had a beard. I just put two and two together and assumed I was going west when I read my letter from Perla at placement night. Everyone was running to go join their teams, but I was conflicted because I wanted to pray and thank God and ask for His and Our Lady’s blessing on my time as a FOCUS missionary. So after walking a few steps towards the mass of people… I turned around to walk over to the Ave Maria Oratory. It turns out that Father, Perla, Mike, and Ania actually saw me and were waving to me, so to them it must have looked like I ditched them after seeing them (even though I was totally in another world at the time). To this day they tease me about it hahaha. But it turns out that Montclair is in New Jersey. And we can see NYC and the World Trade Center from our front porch. So I got to learn a lot about New Jersey, NYC, and the whole East coast over the past two years. My favorite thing about the area has probably been the Appalachians. I’ve really gotten into hiking more since I’ve been away from the vast flatness of Illinois and the Midwest.

Being a missionary for these past two years has been such a blessing. I can’t count how many times I’ve been able to watch God work miracles and touch lives. There have been some big ones that I’ll just generally list by name: Liam, Jeff, Jon, Anthony, Anahi (and like all her fam and friends), and Rob. And on top of that there have been some just as important slow but steady conversions of heart that I’ve been privileged to watch in people like Andrew, Brenden, Ian, Mathias, Henry, Jantzen, Justin, and Charles. But hey, God’s worked in more than just those people’s lives. He’s worked in each one of us and it’s been an honor to walk with you all towards Christ. As long as we are open to God’s love, He will work amazing things through us.

I’d like to give a special thank you to Father Jim, Mary, and Kevin for your support and all that you do for us at Newman Catholic. You all make it so much easier for us to live and grow in our faith here in college.

And I’d like to also especially thank my fellow missionaries! Kerry, Kristin, Ania, Perla, Mike, and Mike. You guys are the best and it’s been such an honor to serve Jesus with you! I’m so blessed with your friendships and inspired by your desire to serve God in whatever way He calls you. And I want to thank you so much for joining me in this mission!

All of you students mean so much to me and I’ll treasure our experiences and friendships for years to come. I’m excited to see how each of your grow and how you live your lives! If you want some parting words of wisdom, here’s what I’ve got. Put God first, then everything else will fall into place. Remember that this life is not just here on Earth, but an eternal one. How you live matters. Live it in a way that honors our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and you’ll have the most joyful and fulfilling life possible. I’m not saying that it’ll be easy. We weren’t created for comfort, but for greatness, as Pope Benedict said. Let’s continue to fight the good fight and know of my prayers for you all! Please pray for me too!

So I want to say goodbye to you all, or adios (I treasured my time with the LASO community as well!), but I want to say it in the true meaning of the words:

Good Bye…  “God be with you.”

Adios… “Go with God.”

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I Am Going To Be A FOCUS (Catholic) Missionary

I am so dumb. I am really dumb. For real.

Hi, my name is Chris. I’m a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, majoring in Electrical Engineering. Last time I checked, electrical engineering at UIUC is ranked #3 in the nation. Basically, I’m in demand, and the average starting salary for my classmates and I is $60,000 and up.

I’m going to have to fundraise everything I’ll live on for the next two years as a missionary (that’s ~$2,000 a month depending on my location). It’ll be way harder to get a job down the road.

Needless to say, this is a very tough decision for me. I’ve caught a lot of flak for it already, enough to remind me of that youtube hit. But I know that it will all be worth it. And so, for the next two years I will be a FOCUS missionary.

If the world was only about money, power, security, or any other sort of earthly thing, then this really would be a dumb decision. But as I’ve come to grow as a person, as a son of God, I’ve come to realize that some things are more important than others. God is most important. Without God, we all would not be here! God has given me everything that I have: life, family, friends, talents, possessions, everything! And even better than the gift of life in the first place is the opportunity of eternal life with God. Without Jesus, we wouldn’t have an opportunity for salvation! It doesn’t matter what we have in our earthly life as long as we have faith in Him- only Jesus can save us! He died on the cross so that ALL may be saved, not just those who were already of a certain religion. He died on the cross out of love for us, and gave us the Church, the Body of Christ, to continue to proclaim the Gospel and to be Jesus’ hands and feet for everyone, so that ALL could be saved. In Matthew 28:19-20 He told His disciples, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

The most important thing is that people come to know Jesus, so that they know who they are (God’s beloved children) and who they were meant to be (saints!). I can do this most tangibly on campus through meeting up with and forming friendships with students. I hope and pray that God will put me in a position to introduce people to Jesus and encourage them to develop their relationship with Him. I only wish that people will come to know that God loves them, because as much as our culture thinks of Christianity as merely a set of morals and rules, our way of life is actually a response to the love of God who loved us first.

I’ll be on a college campus somewhere in the United States for the next 2 years, leading bible studies, helping students to grow as disciples of Jesus, and sharing the Gospel with all that I can. Yes, I could do a similar thing by working a normal job and leading a bible study or youth group, but it wouldn’t make as much of an impact as this specific mission.

The college campus is the place where most students lose their faith, but it is also the perfect place to find it anew. In college, students finally begin to make decisions for themselves for the rest of their lives and are actively searching for meaning in life. Oh, hello. That’s where I come in: and I’ll attempt to introduce them to this guy named Jesus.

I am very excited to live radically for Christ. When He called the disciples, He didn’t ask them to come sometime when it is convenient for them, but rather called them right then- even when they were in the middle of things. Making a difference in the world doesn’t happen in the future but rather starts right now. I intend to do all that I can to share Jesus- the one who is the hope of our lives, the love of our lives, and the savior of our lives- with everyone that God puts in my life.

“We are fools on Christ’s account” -1 Corinthians 4:10

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.” -Mark 16:15-16

“How can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!” -Romans 10:14-15

“Many people perceive Christianity as something institutional — rather than as an encounter with Christ — which explains why they don’t see it as a source of joy.” -Pope Benedict XVI

FOCUS’s main thing:

Inviting college students into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. Inspiring and equipping them for a lifetime of Christ-centered evangelization, discipleship, and friendship in which they lead others to do the same.