Focusing on faith

Focusing+on+faith

Convent of the Sacred Heart students’ schedules are filled with sports, clubs, and other extracurricular activities, but many students also take time to focus on their faith through a small group bible study called Fellowship of Christians in Universities and Schools (FOCUS). FOCUS is an organization that Mr. Peter Moore founded for boarding school students almost 55 years ago. Its original purpose was to provide students with a safe place to explore faith and to spread their faith life outside of their school communities.

Mrs. Hannah Miracola and Ms. Virginia Burton pictured together. Courtesy of Shantel Guzman '19.
Ms. Virginia Burton (left) and Mrs. Hannah Miracola (right) pictured together. Shantel Guzman ’19.

“FOCUS comes every two weeks to establish a place where girls can come and bring both their questions, but also their understanding about faith and [specifically] Christianity in a safe and fun environment,” FOCUS Field Staff member and Sacred Heart alumna Mrs. Hannah Miracola ’06 said.
The attendance of each meeting averages between 25 and 3o girls, and the conversation covers a range of topics from the cause of suffering to the role that the Bible plays in secular law. 
“[FOCUS] helped me see faith in a more down to earth way. I felt as if I were able to connect on a more personal level with God,” sophomore Laura Moore said.
FOCUS Field Staff member Ms. Virginia Burton believes that a welcome environment is vital to the success of the discussion.
“There is a loose structure which I think is what is fun about it. It’s not so much a classroom setting—it’s more eat and get to know each other. I think it’s fun because it’s more of a discussion based setting,” Ms. Burton said. 
Since the early 2000s, FOCUS has maintained a connection with Sacred Heart and also the wider Westchester and Fairfield counties. 
“I was involved [with FOCUS] when I was in high school here at Sacred Heart. I would meet with the FOCUS leader before school at BelleFair with a few other Sacred Heart students and we’d read a passage of scripture together and apply it to our lives,” Mrs. Miracola said. 
FOCUS interns from Fairfield pose together. Courtesy of www.infocus.org
FOCUS interns from Fairfield, Connecticut pose together. Courtesy of www.infocus.org

Last year Mrs. Miracola brought FOCUS back to the Sacred Heart community and organized lunch meetings with students interested in the program. With the help of Upper School Dean of Students Miss Karen Panarella, FOCUS now meets every two weeks. 
“When I moved back [to the area] and started working for FOCUS almost five years ago, I was [thinking] I would love to be back on the Sacred Heart campus and bring something like this to some students, because I know I benefitted so much from it,” Mrs. Miracola said. 
FOCUS leaders also hold FOCUS breakfasts with Greenwich Academy and St. Luke’s School students, and after-school meetings with Greenwich High School students. The organization currently serves 11 areas on the east coast and one on the west coast.
– Shantel Guzman, Staff Writer
A previous version of this article identified FOCUS incorrectly as Fellowship of Catholic University Students. We apologize for this error.