Focus 11

Students in two different grade levels attend a special gathering where various presentations on vocations are made by priests, sisters and other church personnel.  It’s an enterprise that’s often referred to as a ‘Vocations Field Trip.’

Serra Participation

Underwriting cost of transportation for students
Assisting with coordination of speakers
Assisting with securing proper venue for presentations
Handing out programs at presentations
Serving refreshments

Summary

Focus 11 is a unique vocations-related program which typically brings together 11-year-olds (5th or 6th graders) and 11th graders.  As a group, these young students learn about vocations to holy orders and consecrated life.  The program’s emphasis on this prima facie unique demographic coupling is based on research showing that most religious and priests first considered ministry around age 11 and subsequently saw those thoughts bolstered as high school juniors.

05 focus 11

Program History and Development

Focus 11 first took flight in 1989 within the Archdiocese of Detroit (MI).  The program was research-based:  studies showed that most religious and priests first considered ministry around age 11—and then saw those initial thoughts bolstered during their junior years in high school.

At the start, the focus was on a program, systematic in nature, of vocation awareness and invitation.  The program comprised exercises, lesson plans, and prayer services matched to the two age groups involved.  Different formats were constructed so Focus 11 could be held in schools, youth ministry, CCD, and high school retreats.

Later, Focus 11 spread to other dioceses and took on new forms.  For example, in 2000, the Diocese of St. Petersburg (FL) chose to bring about a centralized gathering for 6th graders (11-year-olds) and 11th graders.  Local leaders of the program decided to make Focus 11 into a three-day event:  the juniors would attend one day, while the 6th graders—split into two groups due to class size—would attend the other two days.  It was also decided by the St. Petersburg diocese that all of the 6th-grade and 11th-grade students enrolled in diocesan elementary and high schools would be required to attend Focus 11.  Plus, members of religious communities were invited to serve on panels and set up exhibits.  In another example of how Focus 11 has taken on new forms since its inception in the late ’80s, the Archdiocese of St. Louis (MO) has adapted the program for different age levels; there, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders attend the program.

The St. Petersburg diocese has reported that Focus 11 “…has been so successful that it has actually sold itself” even to those who had misgivings about it at first.

Following is material from the USCCB which itself was provided by the Diocese of St. Petersburg (FL); it outlines the 6th-grade and 11th-grade components of Focus 11 as presented in that diocese:

6th-Grade Component (Age 11)

  • Schools are responsible for transporting their students and providing chaperones
  • Students are asked to bring their own lunches
  • Lemonade is provided by the Serra Club and the Catholic Women’s Club provides cookies
  • Live “Praise and Worship” Music and participatory music is provided to engage the students
  • Opening session should include an explanation of the day, prayer, and a school roll call
  • Priest or religious gives a keynote
  • A vocation skit or video is used
  • A presentation by the (arch)bishop
  • Interactive vocation “game show”-type activity is utilized
  • Rotation of groups into
    • lunch
    • panel discussion of priests/religious with questions
    • exhibit area of religious communities, diocesan life, etc. [good to offer prizes]
  • Closing prayer service in the church with reflective music

11th-Grade Component

  • Schools are responsible for transporting their students and providing chaperones
  • Students are asked to bring their own lunches
  • Lemonade is provided by the Serra Club and the Catholic Women’s Club provides cookies
  • Mass with the (arch)bishop
  • Simultaneous panel discussions (one for boys; one for girls) with priests and/or religious
  • Parents of priests and religious panel can also be used
  • Priest or religious gives a keynote
  • Exhibit area of religious communities, diocesan life, etc. [good to offer prizes]
  • Closing prayer service

All Year

Lead Time 4-6 Months

High Effort

High Cost

Program Outline

  • Began in late 1980s
  • Has been referred to as a ‘Vocations Field Trip’
  • Students age 11 and in grade 11 attend
  • Ages/grades of attendance based on research
  • Program centers upon vocation awareness and invitation
  • Presentations are made by priests and/or religious
  • Has evolved programmatically over the decades since it was introduced

Resources

Reference Materials:

Article from Angelus News about the Focus 11 program in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (CA):
Angelus News Article

Article from the Denver diocesan newspaper regarding the success of a local Focus 11 program:
Denver Diocesan Newspaper Article

Article from the Diocese of Detroit on how Focus 11 inspires:
Diocese of Detroit Article

Serra SPARK Helpers©

Coming Soon!

““Let us face the vocations challenge with that equanimity and realism which take into account the
effectiveness of prayer,
and which are never devoid of supernatural hope.”

Pope St. John Paul II