A Mission Bigger than Me

FOCUS alum Brian Larkin's Journey to the Priesthood

How many years did you serve as a FOCUS missionary?

I served as a FOCUS missionary for 2 years

What campuses did you serve at?

Carroll College - Year 1

University of North Dakota - Year 2

What did you go on to do after FOCUS?

After I left FOCUS I entered St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, and spent 7 years there in study and preparation for the priesthood.  I was ordained a priest in May of 2011.

What is your current title/position/occupation?

Currently I am the parochial vicar at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Northglenn, Colorado.

Tell us about the decision to become a FOCUS missionary?  Was it a difficult decision and what led you to take on that challenge?

The decision to become a missionary was for me, easier than it appears to be for most FOCUS missionaries.  I really found my faith as a student through a FOCUS Bible study and the discipleship/mentoring provided by FOCUS missionaries.  The more I learned about the faith, and the more I grew to love Jesus, the harder it became for me to keep my faith to myself.  I began to see myself as someone participating in Christ's mission to bring others into a relationship with God.   
I was certainly nervous about some aspects of being a missionary, like raising my own salary, and having to deal with the terrible puns so prevalent within the FOCUS community.  In spite of these, one thing was crystal clear to me: that what the world needed more than anything was Jesus Christ, present in the Church.   There were many attractive options before me, but the Lord had dramatically changed my life - what else could I do but respond?  Despite fears and uncertainties I drew tremendous joy from the thought of bringing souls to what they were made for - communion with Jesus Christ. 

In what ways did your time with FOCUS help prepare you for what you're doing now?

FOCUS was a tremendous boot-camp for seminary and priesthood.  I was forced into generosity as a missionary, and in a way I simply couldn't be without a mission bigger than my own life.  There are many places people can learn theology, philosophy or catechesis; what FOCUS gave me however was the impetus to be a fool for Christ, to put myself in situations where I didn't have the competency or confidence that I needed, but where I could put myself out there for him and his kingdom.  Many men in seminary struggled to transition in, to let go of media and autonomy, to learn how to be disciplined; because of FOCUS I had a smoother transition than the majority of men.

What would you say to a college senior considering joining FOCUS staff?

I would tell a college senior that being a missionary is not for everyone, but heroic generosity is.  There are many ways to serve God and his Church, but each of us needs to get out of our natural selfishness - we need things that force us to hand our lives over.  If you have met Jesus Christ and have been given faith, then somehow you must give to others in a radical way - not just become another young professional who happens to believe what the Church teaches.

How did you overcome the fear of fundraising?  How did your fundraising efforts go as a missionary?

I don't know that I did overcome the fear of fundraising until I left FOCUS, I wasn't the best fundraiser as a missionary, but it was so good for me.  I had to put my faith in the Lord that it would work out - and it did; FOCUS also gave me the tools to be successful as a fundraiser, tools which I still use today.

Why do you personally believe the FOCUS mission is so important and critical today?

I don't believe the FOCUS mission is important, I believe the mission of the Church is important.  FOCUS derives its import from the larger mission of the Church, but there are still very few apostolates that are really bringing people into the Church.  The college years are vitally important in how people come to view reality; FOCUS has pioneered the way for Catholics to reach young people for the Gospel.