FOCUS SLS and March for Life

January 31, 2012


This past weekend Jonathan and I embarked on an adventure with nearly 1200 others to Baltimore, MD for the FOCUS Student Leadership Summit 2012 and annual March for Life. We had an amazing weekend listening to speakers such as Curtis Martin, Dr. Ted Sri, Dr. Tim Gray, Father Michael Keating, Dr. Jonathan Reyes, and many FOCUS staff members! This Conference was unique in the fact that it was directed toward students who are leaders within FOCUS on their respective campuses. Every talk or activity was not only geared to inspire them but to equip them to be Catholics with a lifelong mission in The New Evangelization. We don’t want them to see their involvement in FOCUS as a college club but rather a training ground to get ready to launch into wherever God calls them in life to continue the work of Evangelization and Discipleship.  This is a very difficult task to get students to grasp at times with all the distractions, fears, temptations, and lack of Christian friendship in their lives after college. I know this weekend greatly impacted the lives of students from University of Illinois, and I hope and pray this weekend bears fruit for years to come.

Besides listening to speakers, we had time to share meals, pray with one another in adoration, worship the Lord in Holy Mass, engage in uplifting conversations, see old friends, and have some good clean fun. I didn’t sleep as much as I should have but I now have a deeper gratitude for God’s gift to his children via coffee 🙂

Jonathan and I actually got totally blessed since we are Hyatt Gold Passport members and the Summit was at a Hyatt hotel. We tried to get an upgrade to their Regency Club floor with a free certificate we’d gotten. That floor was closed for the season so they gave us their breakfast package (giant breakfast buffet every morning!!) for FREE! God loves us and constantly spoils us…we know we don’t deserve all the crazy ways He provides but boy o boy do we thank and praise Him when it comes!

Below are some pictures that capture various moments from the SLS 2012:

 Jonathan with some U of I students


The Holy Spirit totally descended on the crowd the last night of the Summit! After over an hour of adoration and confessions, we ended with praise and worship music. There were 2 encores because no one wanted to stop praising God! It was so beautiful.

Jonathan found the “vesting room” and had to take a picture, since he was wearing a vest that day 🙂

Students listening intently during a session at the SLS 2012.

We found a pic of me on a FOCUS advertisement. Jonathan made me re-inact the pose in front of the pic. I think I did a good job! 🙂

Monday morning we were off to the March for Life in Washington, DC with over 200,000 others who gathered to protest abortion in our nation. It was a cold and drizzly day, fitting for the somber day. Outside of EWTN  and a small FOX news van, I didn’t see any media coverage…which isn’t surprising. I really don’t think the majority of Americans are truly pro-abortion. Even Jane Doe, from the Roe v. Wade court decision is now pro-life and a Catholic! Huge abortion doctors have had conversions and left their practices, and the latest book unPlanned by Abby Johnson is revealing more and more people leaving the pro-abortion industry. I think they get a loud voice via the media and that tampers perceptions on life issues. I thought of this quote by Mother Theresa throughout the day, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” I pray for the day when we will have justice for every human life in America. We cannot truly proclaim to have freedom for our nation until that day arrives.

Jonathan and I with our signs. Note that Jonathan is now wearing Husker apparel, thanks to Mom and Pop Nissen’s Christmas gift!

We are at the end of the March near the Capitol building. Despite the somberness of the day, Jonathan is in a great mood 🙂

The March is serious is it’s efforts to abolish abortion in our nation but in the same respect it’s also incredibly joyful since Catholics from all over the nation show up. It’s not uncommon to run into people you haven’t seen in years, friends in religious orders, people from your home parish, etc. It’s the one day that it feels like I live in a Catholic city and there is so much charity and joy in the air, it’s amazing! It reminds me of the John 13:35 where Jesus says “they will you are my disciples by your love for one another.”

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