Sanchez-Hidalgo Shifts FOCUS to Student Faith
When Jonathon Sanchez-Hidalgo ’09 first arrived at the University of St. Thomas, he had dreams of becoming a sports broadcaster. God had other plans. Now, Sanchez-Hidalgo is headed to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville where he will begin his fifth year serving college students as a missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.
Sanchez-Hidalgo first got involved with FOCUS while at UST. Realizing he wasn’t living his faith to the fullest, he sought out the missionaries on campus, knowing they would help him grow in his faith.
“I started hanging out with a missionary named Ed Rubin, and he really taught me how important it was to have a daily prayer life and go to daily Mass,” Sanchez-Hidalgo said. “The more I got involved, the more it opened the door to my faith and living it out.”
His faith life began to grow exponentially. Between his communication studies, which have come to be used in nearly everyday of his missionary life, theology and philosophy classes and involvement on campus, St. Thomas became a place where Sanchez-Hidalgo learned to be comfortable with who he was as a person and allowed him to flourish.
FOCUS is a national outreach that meets college students where they are and invites them into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith.
Sanchez-Hidalgo’s time with FOCUS has led to many joys; in addition to meeting his wife, Genevieve, through the organization, he has been able to mentor and watch many students grow in their faith through the years. His has been one of the most successful mentorship chains in the country, mentoring students who in turn are mentoring other students. Between he and his 23 mentees, they are responsible for 18 Bible studies on campus, effectively expanding the reach of the Gospel.
“I think so much of what we give, we receive 10-fold back,” Sanchez-Hidalgo said. “Being able to see the growth of the students, especially when I was at the University of Maryland, I was there for three years, to see people from being babies in the faith to growing into a full-fledged living out of the faith has been really cool. To see that what wee are doing is making an impact on people’s lives and to know that we played a small part in that is humbling and also keeps giving me the drive to continue on with this work.”
The missionary life is not without it’s challenges, on top of being available to students on campus, missionaries are asked to fundraise their own salaries. They use this as an evangelization opportunity as well, meeting potential supporters and introducing them to the New Evangelization while also showing them how the college-aged churchgoers are responding to this movement.
“To quote Mother Teresa, ‘Some people give by going and some people go by giving,’” Sanchez-Hidalgo said. “Not everyone can be expected to drop everything to serve as missionaries, but donation offers people who can’t leave work an opportunity to be a part of this ministry.”
This fall, Sanchez-Hidalgo is looking forward to meeting new students at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and continue serving college students across the country. He and his wife also look forward to the birth of their first child, whom they are expecting in November.