Diocese, Bradley Newman Center win the ‘FOCUS Bowl’

As this is written Wednesday, the winner of the college football championship game between Texas and Alabama on Thursday night had yet to be decided. It was the scheduled highlight of dozens of bowl games during recent weeks, and a television audience of tens of millions was expected to view the contest.

In this space, however, we want to congratulate Catholic campus ministry at Bradley University in Peoria and around the entire Diocese of Peoria for their winning ways at the New Year’s FOCUS Bowl in Orlando, Fla. (See this week’s lead story.)

OK, we made the “bowl” thing up. But it’s difficult not to swell with team pride for how our diocese was represented at the Fellowship of Catholic University Students’ national conference that drew 4,000 students over the New Year’s holiday. We think that gathering was of much greater consequence than any football game.

First, how impressive is it that more than 200 Catholic students, chaplains, and seminarians opted to spend four days of their semester break — including New Year’s Eve itself — deepening their faith? Everyone who attended or supported these young men and women is a winner in our book.

But no odds maker would have bet that the top male and female Catholic student leaders selected by FOCUS from the entire eastern half of the nation would be from the same school — Bradley. We congratulate, and admire, seniors Ben Getz and Sara Barton not only for the recognition, but for their Catholic witness on campus.

With one out of every eight Catholics in our diocese a college student because of the many institutions located within our borders, campus ministry is a significant part of the Diocese of Peoria’s mission. Last week was just another indication of its success. The established Newman communities and the growing FOCUS missionary outreach make a great team that deserves the support of all. It certainly has the very best team Spirit. — Thomas J. Dermody

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