Tanner Hoerter, fifth year missionary; Molly Schmitz, second year missionary; Alice Major, first year missionary;Trevor Wayman, Team Director, third year missionary
The West River Catholic sat down with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) team at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology to meet the new team members, find out what their new goals are, and to get to know them better. FOCUS was founded in 1998 and uses campus missionaries to invite college students into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, equipping them for a lifetime of Christ-centered evangelization, discipleship, and friendships in which they lead others to do the same. The goal is to have students take the skill, formation and encounters with Christ and share them for the rest of their lives. Missionaries are college graduates that range from newly graduated, to families, to adults who feel a call in their lives.
WRC: How did you become involved with FOCUS?
Trevor: I am a non-traditional hire. I joined at 26. I first met FOCUS my junior year in college. It was the third missionary who broke through and got to me. In April 2019 I had a massive reconversion and have been with them ever since.
Alice: The faculty liaison for our Catholic Student Fellowship was a former FOCUS Bible study leader. I was a music student so I was usually busy from like 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and the only time I could attend a Bible study was at 6:30 in the morning when she ran it. I started working with high school students in SAT prep and I remember seeing how much these high school students were suffering and I told her this and she told me, you should join FOCUS. I didn’t but she planted that seed.
What are you looking forward to this school year?
Alice: I’m really looking forward to getting to share Jesus’ love and that fire, especially with the girls on campus. It’s already been really exciting to see such a response and make so many connections already.
Molly: I would say I know a lot more of the girls, especially the athletes, and so just getting more involved with them, having more involvement from them. There are a few who will hopefully go through RCIA this year, which I’m really pumped about.
Trevor: My first level of formation is for my team and then students so mine looks a little different. I’ve always worked with male athletes, so I’ve had tunnel vision, but now I get to see the whole spectrum. It’s a 30-thousand-foot view, but now I have to get on the ground and form the students and the team.
I’m excited to bring my wife into the mission too after we get married in November.
Will your fiancé be working with you on campus?
Trevor: She has been on campus with us and the extra person has been wildly awesome. I love it. I think it’s cool that I’ll be able to show marriage is still a good thing. It’s a sacrament and covenant. I think I’ll be able to show them that love is still real and has a meaning and purpose in life.
What are you hoping to build on from last year?
Tanner: I’m hoping to see a lot of growth in the returning student leaders and hoping to see them step up and go outside of their comfort zones and be willing to be on mission more with us. I hope to see a large portion of those who we’ve already met and contacted over the past week. I’m hoping to see a lot of them in Bible studies. So, a lot of new Bible studies are being formed, new Bible study leaders, and just a lot of growth in the community.
We started doing things a little differently this year with Trevor as our team director. He’s bringing a new fire to this campus. I’m really looking forward to seeing it explode.
Molly: A big goal for me is to have more incarnational time with the students this year. That means living life with the students. So instead of only meeting once a week for Bible study I’ll say, ‘today I’m going to go bowling. Who wants to join me? I’m going to go to a movie. Who wants to come?’ It’s always inviting them to live with you because that’s how Jesus did it. He camped with twelve of his closest friends.
How do you see last year’s student leaders stepping up this year? How do you encourage them?
Molly: At the end of last year, I commissioned two freshman girls who are already taking initiative, even more than they were at the end of last year. There’s a lot more that needs to happen. I think that there’s this tendency to constantly breathe in because we think that’s what we need, but instead you actually need to breathe out as well because otherwise you’ll suffocate. I think a lot of people are afraid of it because they don’t think they are strong enough in their faith yet or think they don’t know enough things. It’s more of a challenge to get them to invest that amount of time and energy, but it’s not that they don’t have it.
Tanner: In terms of guys in Bible study, I’m looking forward to seeing them take the next steps. I have two guys who are showing initiative and have made it clear that they want to be on mission.
I think a lot of them are starting to recognize for the first time, reaching campus is possible. It’s not just a joke that we say and do. We want to reach the entirety of campus as the Catholic Church. We want to reach the entire world and that’s what we were commissioned with. So I think they’re starting to put the pieces together.
Alice and Trevor, you both are non-traditional hires. How do you see that affecting your ministry?
Alice: I see it as an advantage. Those three years between graduating college and coming to focus were a time of huge growth for me in my faith and prayer life. I can share a lot of those experiences with the girls that I’m walking with. My job was working with juniors and seniors who were applying to college. They are the incoming freshmen this year so I got to see a little bit of the culture they are coming in with — the effects of the pandemic on their schooling and share emotional well-being.
Part of it, like Molly mentioned, is that we tend to just breathe in a lot. When you’re so focused on breathing in, if something shakes you it’s going to be a disaster, but if you’re seeing beyond that if you’re seeing the great commission, you’re seeing redemption.
Trevor: I do think it is an advantage, especially here. I wish every student would get denied an internship at least four times. They put so much stock into these internships. It’s like a pipeline dream that leads to straight misery. They think, ‘I’ve got to go to college. I graduated. I got this job.’ And then what? What are you aspiring to? Work is good. The first thing God told Adam is to till. Saint Benedict’s whole theology Ora et Labora, pray and work. It’s prayer and work and the harmony between it.
I can tell them I’ve been in your shoes. Doing these things are good and normal, but when it becomes your God, it becomes your living hell. Your prayer is good for your work. I can tell them there’s something greater than the car and the boat. I can tell them I chased these things and I was miserable. I fundraised my salary and I’m happy. I’m three years in and I’m happy which seems contradictory to the whole world. I’ve always had what I need and I’m planning a wedding.