From FOCUS missionary to the priesthood

Campus-ministry organization fosters vocations

The University of Colorado Boulder located in Boulder, Colo. Photo by Katherine Welles/Shutterstock.

Editor’s Note: This article is courtesy of Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS).

Fr. Shaun Galvin, parochial vicar at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center in Boulder, Colo. Photo courtesy of FOCUS.

In celebration of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Vocations Awareness Week (Nov. 5-11) Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) social media channels ( and @focuscatholic) are highlighting FOCUS alumni who are now serving as priests. More than 24,000 students have been involved with FOCUS, and within this number, 674 have made decisions to pursue Catholic religious vocations  — 144 women and 530 men.

Fr. Shaun Galvin was a FOCUS missionary and is now the parochial vicar at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center (St. Tom’s) near the University of Colorado Boulder. Since 2013, 16 men and two women involved with FOCUS at St. Tom’s have made decisions to pursue Catholic religious vocations. In addition to Fr. Galvin, more than 20 CU Boulder alumni have become FOCUS missionaries.

Q: How did being involved with FOCUS as a student encourage you to enter religious life?

Fr. Galvin: When I was a student at CU Boulder, I was involved with FOCUS, but attending St. Tom’s biannual Buffalo Awakening retreat sparked my desire to make God a part of my daily life. When I returned from that weekend of deep reflection and prayer, the active campus ministry gave me an opportunity to develop my faith and relationship with Christ. I started going to Bible study, which taught me about the Catholic faith and truths that I never knew or had forgotten.

After graduation, I served as a FOCUS missionary for three years. At FOCUS New Staff Training after my first year as a missionary, as I was walking around asking God about my future, he made it absolutely clear that it was his will for me to become a priest.

Q: Why is a vibrant campus ministry important for students?

Fr. Galvin: Many students are seeking truth and to understand their purpose in life. It is pivotal for students to develop a community of faith, especially in a large, secular university such as CU Boulder. It was crucial for me to have good friends who were positive influences. Those friends, especially the men, encouraged me to discern my vocation.

By investing in students and developing authentic friendships, our staff at St. Tom’s is able to connect with students where they are in their faith journey. St. Tom’s provides a community for students to learn, grow, and commune with each other.

Q: How has St. Tom’s been successful in reaching out to students?

Fr. Galvin: Through events, one-on-one conversations, and Bible studies, FOCUS missionaries share the love of Christ and truth of the Gospel with thousands of students each year.

Since 2013, more than 500 CU Boulder students have been involved with 177 Bible studies led by FOCUS missionaries and students on campus. This semester alone, we are blessed with 33 Bible studies, which are helping hundreds of students grow closer to Christ and learn how to share his truth with others.

In October, St Tom’s hosted its 32nd Buffalo Awakening retreat, which brought more than 130 attendees together for faith and fellowship.

Q: What other activities and programs do you have through St. Tom’s campus ministry?

Fr. Galvin: The Aquinas Institute for Catholic Thought is the intellectual formation arm at St. Tom’s. We host lectures, debates, classes on Scripture and Catholic teaching, Thirsty Thursdays, podcasts, and aim to promote the Catholic intellectual tradition and the unique voice of the Catholic Church at CU Boulder. We are also a resource for students, faculty, and community members looking to find answers about their Catholic faith.

In 2015, we opened Drogo’s Coffee Bar, named after St. Drogo, the patron of coffee shop owners, to create a space for encounter and evangelization. Since then, we have grown to serve, on average, 90 new customers per month along with even more returning customers! Drogo’s provides a common space for the community to interact, engage, and be together.

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