September’s Festival of Praise, which brought in a new structure and a new set-up, is the first product of a new partnership between two offices.
The Christian Outreach Office was recently asked to become involved and partner with the Office of Evangelization to organize and run the Festival of Praise events on campus.
The Festival of Praise, more commonly known as “FOP,” occurs every month in Finnegan Fieldhouse from 7 to 9 p.m., and is a way to “help foster among the students a relationship with Christ,” said Sarah Bacza, the manager of youth programming in the Christian Outreach.
According to Bacza, the idea of partnering with the Office of Evangelization was pitched to them at the Office of Christian Outreach, and they saw it as “a beautiful opportunity to serve the students.” Both offices, located in Assisi Heights, are hard at work and passionate about making this year’s FOPs even more amazing.
Tanner Whitham, manager for adult and young adult programming, agreed. “(It’s an) opportunity for us to get involved with students,” he said.
Bacza and Whitham handle all the programming, which involves organizing the event, getting a speaker and picking a topic that they feel is most relevant to the students for that month.
Whitham said that the transition of this partnership has been “busy but really good.” The September FOP totaled around 650 students in attendance.
The tradition of FOPs was begun by Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, back in the 80’s as a way for students to connect with the Lord, according to Sister Sarah Rose Dent, TOR, pastoral associate of evangelization for the praise and worship ministries.
Layna Corbett, who works as a part of the events staff, said, “I like seeing the effect that Jesus has on people because there are so many different ways it can affect them.”
Freshman Patrick O’Brien agreed. “The Franciscan community came alive, and it was very easy to see how passionate the school is about the faith,” he said, after his first FOP experience.
After each of the FOPs has ended, students are invited to come to Christ the King Chapel and experience Prayer Ministry. Teams of trained students are available to pray with anyone who wants to come and receive the power of prayer. This part of the event is completely student run under the prayerful leadership of Dent.
“Being prayed over is one way I’ve been able to open my heart and allow the Holy Spirit to direct me and discern God’s plan for my life,” said Naomi Moore, resident director of Marian Hall.
The next FOP will take place on Oct. 7 during Homecoming weekend, featuring speaker Dave Vanvickle. The Nov. 11 speaker will be John Paul Von Arx, a recent graduate of Franciscan University.