Thursday, 15 December 2011 10:30
WASHINGTON (CNS) — For Ralph Martin and Curtis Martin, the Catholic Church’s future will be built through relationships — the spiritual kind as well as the human kind.
By establishing a strong relationship with God through prayer and following the precepts of the Gospels and also with others through friendships, conversation and support, people can come closer to making sense of a complex world, the Martins believe.
The Martins — whose only relationship is that they share the same last name — were appointed Dec. 7 as consultors to advise the Vatican’s recently established Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.
Ralph Martin, president of Renewal Ministries in Ann Arbor, Mich., and director of graduate programs in the new evangelization at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, has been a leader in charismatic renewal since the 1970s.
Curtis Martin, is founder and president of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, known as FOCUS, near Denver.
Both are well known for their outreach to Catholics. Their widely successful efforts prompted Vatican officials to include them among the 15 advisers to the evangelization council.
Both also drifted away from the Catholic Church as young adults in a quest to find answers to the many questions they had about life and the world, only to return to their roots in Catholicism years later. Their newfound faith helped propel them on the paths they now follow and drives them to share their love of God and the church with others.
In Curtis Martin’s case, American college campuses became the venue for his efforts. FOCUS groups have welcomed thousands of young Catholics seeking to explore their faith more fully in the context of their lives. He told Catholic News Service that FOCUS has expanded to 60 college campuses in the 14 years it has existed.
“We’re just scratching the surface,” he said, noting that there are 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S.
Curtis Martin said he and the FOCUS staff have found that college students are “hungering for a better way to live” and “longing to express forgiveness and authentic relationship.”
The FOCUS model is based on the life of Christ, who spent three years building friendships with others, he explained.
“Christ found 12 men and went camping for three years,” he said. “He chose relationship as a way to communicate the Gospel.
“I find young people a generation who have been profoundly wounded in a culture that has taken advantage of them in a lot of ways, broken ways” he said. “They are wounded by the sexual revolution. … Yet despite all of this they’re amazing.”