Summer Training: Week 1

Drum roll please……………..looks like I’ll need to get used to this humidity and start buying bug spray in bulk because as the first week of New Staff Training came to a close, I found out that I will be serving as a FOCUS Missionary right here at Ave Maria University in South Florida!! I’ll talk more on placements later but first I wanna touch on everything that’s happened this past week. It’s only been 5 full days here at training and already I feel like we’ve done and covered so much information. It was a little overwhelming at first but we’re all having lots of fun and I’m really looking forward to the next 4 weeks.

5 of The 7 Of Us Here From Colorado State (From Left To Right: Me, Ashlynn, Sean, Brian and Matt)
5 of The 7 Of Us Here From Colorado State (From Left To Right: Me, Ashlyn, Sean, Brian and Matt)

First of all, I have to say again just how amazing it is to be here with all these wonderful people. In just a week I’ve met some fantastic people and gotten the chance to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances. Every person has their own story and it’s awesome getting to know all these wonderful people. So far we’ve taken classes in Character Formation, Prayer and Mission Partner Development (fundraising.) The classes are taught by experts and I’m definitely learning skills and being equipped with tools that I’ll be able to use on campus with students. While it does get a little warm walking around in business casual attire in the Florida sun, it’s completely worth it.

Learning how TO Pray With Father Dyer
Learning How To Pray With Father Dyer

Days pretty much consist of breakfast, classes, holy hour, lunch, more classes, mass, dinner then free time for hanging out in our small groups or with each other. Also on Tuesday mornings we have men’s recreation which consists of a 5 week long soccer tournament. I love soccer so I was pretty excited. My team lost one game and tied one so far so wish us luck in the next few weeks!

Lunch Time
Lunch Time At The Cafeteria

Fundraising….actually doesn’t seem as bad as I thought it was going to be. Our Mission Partner Development classes have really made things a lot simpler and more straightforward. There’s definitely not as much pressure on us to meet the fundraising requirement as I figured there would be. FOCUS definitely trains and equips us with the skills needed to explain our mission to people and teaches us how to ask for support. The minimum fundraising requirement is $2,000 a month which isn’t too bad I suppose. We start making calls this upcoming week so prayers are appreciated that I get some partners.

My Fellow CSU Rams Awaiting Placement (From Left To Right: Jake, Emma, Ashlyn, Brian, Matt and Sean.
My Fellow CSU Rams Awaiting Placement (From Left To Right: Jake, Emma, Ashlyn, Brian, Matt and Sean.

Now for what everyone’s been waiting for, placement. The placement ceremony took place Thursday evening. All the first years gathered in the lecture hall and we were each handed envelops with our names on them. We were then told to go wherever we wanted to open our envelopes and find out our fate. Then we could take some time to ourselves to call whoever we needed to or pray and thank Jesus (or be angry with him) for our placement.  So like I said before, I was placed right here at Ave Maria University. My first reaction was how excited I am to be able to stay down here in Florida and trade in the mountains for the beach. I prayed I would get sent somewhere warm! However, to be honest I didn’t want to get set to a Catholic University. As amazing as Ave Maria is, there’s only about 880 undergrad students and it’s definitely going to be a big change coming from the 23,000 undergrads of Colorado State.

The Welcoming Me To Ave Maria's FOCUS Team
The Note Welcoming Me To Ave Maria’s FOCUS Team

Another thing that was/is bothering me is how I was having sort of a hard time getting ready to explain to people why I need their support for my mission. Now I also have to explain why they need a Catholic missionary on a Catholic university campus. So that is stressing me out some but after some prayer and thought and looking back at my life as a Catholic I feel like this will be a great fit for me. Still stressed a little but I just have to trust in the Lord and remember that I was placed here for a reason and I plan to do my very best no matter what. Apparently almost half the students that come here are athletes so I’ll get the chance to do some work with Varsity Catholic (FOCUS’ Athlete Outreach Ministry) so that’s pretty exciting. As far as the rest of the CSU rams, their placements are as follows:

  • Jake Leins: University Of Tennessee
  • Brian Couri: University Of Nebraska | Omaha
  • Ashlyn Dunn: University of Maryland
  • Emma Heckman: Colorado School of Mines
  • Matthew Ketchum: Southeast Missouri State University
  • Sean O’Mahoney: U.S. Naval Academy
A Gift From My New Team
A Gift From My New Team

Please pray for my fellow Rams. They are all very good friends of mine and I’m so excited to see the amazing things that they’re going to do on their campuses.The other three members of team Ave include Corrine, a third year girl who is team director, Jason, a second year guy and then Melia, another first year like me. I also got to meet the team at Florida Atlantic University which is our brother college that is only about an hour and a half away. They are all great people (seen in the featured image) and I am looking forward getting to know them and work with them this coming year. We then finished out the week with an America themed FOCUS Greek Life party on the lawn. Basically lots of dancing with some kegs thrown in for good measure. Lots of fun. As for this weekend I think it’s time we finally took a trip to beach and relaxed for a bit before starting up again for week two. Please keep us all in your thoughts and prayers!

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6 thoughts on “Summer Training: Week 1”

  1. Tom, it certainly is hard to believe it has only been a week. I am very excited for you all and know you will make a significant impact at each of your placements! God certainly knows what He is doing. Love and prayers, always. Love, Jo

  2. Awesome blog Tom! You did a great job documenting everything! The good news for you is that I’m pretty sure it isn’t this hot/buggy/rainy during most of the school year at Ave 🙂

  3. Hey Tom, my name is Chris DeCleene and I’m a rising sophomore at Ave Maria. Looking forward to meeting you, and thank you for the work you’re doing. As someone who’s experienced campus ministry and Focus at Ave, I can tell you that Focus missionaries are invaluable to our student life. You will be able and focused to build personal relationships with students to bring them closer to Christ in a way that the school as an institution cannot. No one else on campus has totally devoted themselves to this indispensable role. I think you’ll find that the faithfully Catholic mission of the school will work very well in tandem with your ministry. Hope this helps with explaining yourself to donors!

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