Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

FOCUS expands its mission on BHSU campus

Last fall, Black Hills State University welcomed two new FOCUS missionaries to start evangelizing the Catholic faith on campus. A year later, FOCUS is expanding its missionary numbers to a team of four with an affiliate missionary. This larger team has a goal to expand its mission beyond Catholics on campus, opening the organization to students from all religious beliefs and denominations.

According to Andrew Noah, one of the missionaries, FOCUS, which stands for Fellowship of Catholic University Students, is a non-profit Catholic organization that was established over 25 years ago. Each person involved in FOCUS has the same goal while serving the BHSU students—and that is “to make great disciples of all nations.”

Establishing FOCUS on campus at BHSU dates back several years. The BHSU Newman Center sponsored FOCUS starting in 2018 but the organization fizzled out in 2020 due to COVID-19. In the fall of 2022, the missionaries were re-established, and Spearfish welcomed Sami Galuppo and Kailiey Garrett to join Andrew Noah in fulfilling official apostle duties.
Starting at the beginning of the 2023 fall semester, Thomas Imholte and his wife Savannah Imholte joined the FOCUS team and will provide their expertise in targeting athletes to the missionary team.

Each member has a role to contribute to evangelizing on the BHSU campus. For instance, Galuppo and Garrett are reaching out to the young women on campus by providing bible studies, Women’s Night and spending quality time with everyone they meet. Noah will also be running bible studies and providing a welcoming smile to whoever comes to the Newman Center’s events.

The new missionaries are adding a special aspect to the team this year. For instance, the Imholtes are Varsity Catholic Missionaries which is a branch of FOCUS that works with student-athletes.

This divide-and-conquer approach to having the missionaries work with specific groups on campus allows for more opportunities to invite students to be exposed to the Catholic faith. The events that will be offered to students that are open to this organization are bible studies, events, interactive activities and Mass.

Additionally, the missionaries offer the opportunity to become Catholic through a program called OCIA which stands for Orders of Christian Initiation of Adults (OCIA was formally known as RCIA).

The missionaries provide opportunities for students not only through events on campus, but by also assisting with travel to Catholic conferences. One of the events that this organization promotes is a five-day event called SEEK, in which students are exposed to a variety of events and speakers.

“FOCUS missionaries also want students to be interested in SEEK,” Noah said. “This is not limited to just Catholics. In fact, we had an agnostic, Jew, and Orthodox come to this event and we had great discussions about different ideologies”.
The ongoing expansion of FOCUS organizations across the country also provides interested students an opportunity to continue working with the organization after college.

“When I was deciding what are my next steps after college, FOCUS was just something on the table that I was like well, if I go interview and the lord really wants me to do this, then I really want to say yes to Him,” Galuppo said.
This willingness aid Catholic organization lead to her becoming a missionary.

Garrett was also affected by FOCUS during her undergraduate career, which deepened her Catholic faith and influenced her choice of becoming a missionary.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life after college,” Garret said. “I knew that one of the things that brought me a lot of joy was sharing the faith with others.”

Garrett specifically mentioned how she loves seeing people having that ‘ah-ha’ moment with religion.

“[I enjoy] seeing that spark in people that finally get it that God is present in their life” Garret said.

For many of the FOCUS missionaries, the organization strengthened their connection to the Catholic faith, but for some of the missionaries, the organization’s impact was more profound. For both of the Imholtes, encountering FOCUS dramatically changed their lives. Savanah was a protestant and became a Catholic which led to her working for this Catholic organization.

Her husband also had a drastic life change due to being influenced by FOCUS.

“I grew up Catholic, but very lukewarm or even [unaware of] the depth and beauty of the Catholic Faith until I got involved with FOCUS at Minnesota State Mankato as a student, and my wife was a protestant at the time,” Thomas Imholte said.

This secular lifestyle changed as he attended his college’s FOCUS organization.

“Through Bible studies, through just the lives of living through the beauty of the faith [changed my lifestyle],” Thomas Imholte said.

This strong influence on Imholte eventually led to him leave his career to become a campus missionary.

“After college, I became a CPA for almost four years,” Thomas Imholte said. “My wife and I were living in Minneapolis for the last three and a half years before moving here.”

The devotion to this organization by its missionaries is also evidenced by Noah, who has been a part of FOCUS for almost a decade.

“This is my sixth year as a FOCUS missionary,” Noah said. “I joined FOCUS because a missionary challenged me in my undergrad years to strive after Christ and to be great. Myself, with my other peers, were very content with living a very mediocre sort of college lifestyle and it was my missionary that really challenged me to grow in my faith and grow as a man. My whole life was transformed by that.”

With FOCUS having such an impact on the missionaries who work at BHSU, they hope to affect a similar positive change in the students on campus. Whether that would entail inviting students to dinner or Mass, or helping students get more deeply involved in the organization.