Dr. Edward Sri joins FOCUS as new Vice President of Formation

Aaron Lambert

The work of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) has bore much fruit in its campus ministry and evangelization efforts, and later this year, renowned Catholic theologian and author Dr. Edward Sri will play a key role in forming those missionaries who go forth.

On July 1, Sri will begin a new role with FOCUS as the Vice President of Formation for the apostolate. He will oversee the integrated development of all formation aspects of various initiatives, including staff training, curriculum, mission trips and retreats.

As a longtime professor of theology and scripture at the Augustine Institute and its Vice President of Mission, Sri brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise with him to impart on FOCUS missionaries.

“FOCUS is recognized as one of the most impactful organizations at the front lines of evangelization and raising up missionary disciples in the Church today,” Sri said in a FOCUS press release announcing his new role. “It is an honor to serve these young people and the thousands of graduates and friends of the apostolate who are now leaders on campuses and in parishes, dioceses and other ministries.

“I pray that as we continue to expand and deepen our formation, the Lord will bless their generous efforts and help them bear more fruit for evangelization.”

Founded in 1998 by Curtis and Michaelann Martin, FOCUS is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and currently has more than 660 missionaries serving on 137 U.S. and international campuses and five parishes. Sri actually helped found the apostolate alongside the Martins 20 years ago, and his continued involvement over the years has assisted with its growth.

“Dr. Sri has had profound influence upon the growth and development of FOCUS,” Curtis Martin said. “We are excited about the anticipated impact Dr. Sri’s presence will have upon FOCUS’ efforts to serve campuses, parishes and the wider Church in evangelization and forming missionary disciples.”

COMING UP: Local artists choose life in pro-life art show

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For someone who’s always been in love with art, it’s not surprising that Brett Lempe first encountered God through beauty. Lempe, a 25-year-old Colorado native, used his talent for art and new-found love of God to create a specifically pro-life art show after a planned show was cancelled because of Lempe’s pro-life views.

Lempe was “dried out with earthly things,” he said. “I was desperately craving God.”

Three years ago, while living in St. Louis, Mo., Lempe google searched for a church to visit and ended up at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

“I was captivated by the beauty of the 40 million mosaic tiles,” he said.

Lempe is not exaggerating. This Cathedral is home to 41.5 million tiles that make up different mosaics around the sanctuary. Witnessing the beauty of this church is what sparked his conversion, he said, and was his first major attraction towards Catholicism.

Lempe continued on to become Catholic, then quit his job several months after joining the Church to dedicate himself completely to art. Most of his work post-conversion is religious art.

Lempe planned to display a non-religious body of artwork at a venue for a month when his contact at the venue saw some of Lempe’s pro-life posts on Facebook. Although none of the artwork Lempe planned to display was explicitly pro-life or religious, the venue cancelled the show.

“I was a little bit shocked at first,” he said. “Something like me being against abortion or being pro-life would get a whole art show cancelled.”

Lempe decided to counter with his own art show, one that would be explicitly pro-life.

On Sept. 7, seven Catholic artists displayed work that gave life at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Denver.

“Catholicism lends itself to being life-giving,” Lempe said.

The show included a variety of work from traditional sacred art, icons, landscapes, to even dresses.

Students for Life co-hosted the event, and 10 percent of proceeds benefited the cause. Lauren Castillo, Development director and faith-based program director at Students for Life America gave the keynote presentation.

Castillo spoke about the need to be the one pro-life person in each circle of influence, with coworkers, neighbors, family, or friends. The reality of how many post-abortive women are already in our circles is big, she said.

“Your friend circle will get smaller,” Castillo said. “If one life is saved, it’s worth it.”

Pro-Life Across Mediums

Brett Lempe’s Luke 1:35

“This painting is the first half at an attempt of displaying the intensity and mystical elements of Luke 1:35,” Lempe said. “This work is influenced somewhat by Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam’ painting as I try to capture the moment when the “New Adam” is conceived by Our Blessed Mother.”

Claire Woodbury’s icon of Christ Pantokrator

“I was having a difficult time making that icon,” she said. “I was thinking it would become a disaster.”

She felt Jesus saying to her, “This is your way of comforting me. Is that not important?”

“Icons are very important to me,” she said. “I guess they’re important to Him too.”

Katherine Muser’s “Goodnight Kisses”

“Kids naturally recognize the beauty of a baby and they just cherish it,” Muser said of her drawing of her and her sister as children.

Brie Shulze’s Annunciation

“There is so much to unpack in the Annunciation,” Schulze said. “I wanted to unpack that life-giving yes that our Blessed Mother made on behalf of all humanity.”

“Her yes to uncertainty, to sacrifice, to isolation, to public shame and to every other suffering that she would endure is what allowed us to inherit eternal life.”

“Her fiat was not made in full knowledge of all that would happen, but in love and total surrender to the will of God.”

All photos by Makena Clawson