FOCUS missionary evangelizing young adults on college campuses
Alexa Wasinger attributes her deep love of Jesus Christ to the Fellowship of Catholic University Students missionaries who evangelized her while she was at Wichita State University.
The former parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Andover was a FOCUS missionary at Troy University in Alabama for two years and is currently spreading the Gospel at the University of Memphis.
Wasinger said last week she would still be a Catholic had she not encountered FOCUS missionaries, but would likely not be living a fully active Catholic life.
A focus on evangelization
The Fellowship of Catholic University Students is a Catholic collegiate outreach whose mission is to share the hope and joy of the gospel with college and university students, inspiring and equipping them for a lifetime of Christ-centered evangelization, discipleship, and friendships in which they lead others to do the same.
The college missionaries opened Wasinger’s eyes to the beauty of missions and the power of a personal relationship with Jesus, she said.
“They taught me about praying a Holy Hour and that Mass isn’t just something we have to do but that it’s an opportunity to encounter our Lord and bring heaven on earth.”
Wasinger, who graduated from Wichita State in 2019, said while in college she was focused on getting into medical school. That began shifting while in the adoration chapel at Church of the Magdalen just before her junior year.
Jesus moves her heart
“I was looking at Jesus in the monstrance and was pouring out my heart: Lord, I desire to help heal people. Why did you give me this desire? I’m wrestling with the world of medicine right now. I’m wrestling with my classes and they aren’t fulfilling me. I perceived him looking at me and saying: ‘You desire so much to heal people’s bodies but how much more important are their souls?’”
She realized that she was called to be a missionary, Wasinger said, adding that she started with her sorority where she began a Bible study with her sisters, teaching them about the Lord and the faith. “I really desired to do that full-time. I couldn’t think of anything more important than helping women come alive with the gospel.”
Working as a missionary has been sanctifying, she said, adding that she initially had a worker-bee mentality that she was going to go out and win souls for the Lord. “But one of the things FOCUS asks us is ‘Are you going to be OK with going to a campus and the only soul that the Lord brings closer to himself is your own?’ We do all these things but ultimately it is our own salvation that the Lord desires.”
She said she encountered a lot of rejection that helped her with her sense of pride.
Rejection part of FOCUS
“I remember being heartbroken. Why would this person say no to this good thing? They know it’s good,” she said, adding that Jesus’ answer to her was that he, too, was rejected and that he was inviting her more deeply into his Sacred Heart.
Wasinger said the University of Memphis, like WSU, is a commuter college, which makes it more difficult to connect with students. The missionaries are working with the campus Catholic center and are building their ability to reach out.
She is one of four FOCUS missionaries, two men and two women, at the university where they model the beauty of community to students.
They bring students to an encounter with the Lord, Wasinger said, with Love Himself. “Once they have that encounter, they desire to be built up as a disciple – so we equip them.”
Building up good habits
That equipment includes learning more about the sacraments, prayer, fellowship, and the Eucharist. “Teaching them how to build up those habits and showing them that they are not habits they have in college but they will utilize them their entire lives,” she said.
The students they encounter become ambassadors for Christ, Wasinger added, to lead Bible studies in corners of the campus that FOCUS missionaries might not be able to reach.
“I can’t get into their classrooms…there are places where we are limited,” she said.
“My team and I are on a mission for each other as much as we are for the students. We have to remember that unless we are going and receiving from Love Himself, we cannot give that love to the people around us.”