Founder of FOCUS named commencement speaker for 2018

Curtis Martin is the founder of FOCUS, Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Photo courtesy of MariAnna Martin

By Ann-Marie Reasor, The Circuit 

Benedictine College has announced the commencement speaker for the graduates of 2018. On May 12 at 10 am Curtis Martin will address the graduating Ravens in the Ralph Nolan Gymnasium.

Martin founded the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) in 1998. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Louisiana University and his Master’s Degree in Theology at Franciscan University. He has written best-selling books, appeared on EWTN and been awarded the Benemerenti Medal by Pope Saint John Paull II.

He currently serves as Consultor to the Pontifical Council of the New Evangelization and as vice chairman of the Augustine Institute, a Catholic graduate school in his home state of Colorado.

The FOCUS organization is responsible for thousands of missionaries across the US.

Benedictine has given birth to many of those missionaries and is honored to host Martin in a new capacity.

Anna Mathews, senior, is looking forward to what Martin will share during his address.

“I know that he has lived a good Christian life,” Mathews said. “He has made that very public and he’s done a lot of good through doing that. So I’m guessing he’ll speak on how graduating seniors can take their faith that they’ve acquire at Benedictine and go apply that to the globe.”

Mathews has heard Martin speak on another occasion and is hoping he offers something new for the commencement address.

“I do think that Curtis Martin is a very familiar speaker (for Benedictine students),” Mathews said. “I think for the founder of FOCUS to go to a different college that would be more of a treat than it is for us. (However) it’s natural to find a speaker connected to the school. He knows the school, he knows our experiences and I’m hoping he’ll be able to give us specific advice or be able to tailor the speech more specifically for us because he intimately knows Benedictine.”

Not every student gets to have their father give their commencement keynote.

MariAnna Martin is the fourth Martin child to graduate from Benedictine College and she will get this unusually unique privilege. Martin has heard her father’s talks since she was born. She accredits him with always bringing something new to his speeches. She says he has prompts or ‘themes’, but ‘always has something new to throw in there.’

Martin’s keynote speech will also be a distinct opportunity for the FOCUS missionaries at Benedictine.

“One thing FOCUS really tries to focus on, pardon the pun, is not just college evangelization, but building up student leaders who will graduate and be world changers,” said FOCUS missionary Audry Salvador.

“That’s one of the things Benedictine likes to talk about: we are launching students into mission. I think that’s one of the ways FOCUS and Benedictine overlaps. We truly want to raise up leaders and students who will change the world and lead others to Christ.”

Salvador realizes that many Ravens may have heard Martin speak before. Having herself heard him speak numerous times, she knows for a fact he will still have some new words to offer.

She also acknowledged the fact that Martin knows Benedictine, as well as the student body, extremely well thus being able to create and invent a speech that really targets that audience.

“(Martin) can enter into a topic with livelihood and the proper research to bring something engaging to the students,” Salvador said. “He founded an organization that is built on connecting with college students. I have no doubt that he will be able to connect with them.”

The commencement address will be streamed live. There will also be a video available on YouTube after the event.