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 It has been said that real evangelization is one beggar showing another beggar where to find bread! These are just a few of the amazing individuals  who are bringing bread to a hungry world. 

Below, you can see and read about 3 of this year's recipients of the CEM POC grant. There are many more who need to be supported by our prayers and financial gifts. 

Holding Hands

CEMPOC Grantees

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Christian Gale (2023 Grantee)

Originally From: Guatemala

Serving with: Hard As Nails Ministries

Studied: Ministry began directly out of HS

About:Christian describes his faith journey as “a long grueling, painful and heartbreaking process that challenged him to seek something more”. He was adopted and for years he only knew God through his family and friends through their stories and testimonies. He believed them but was looking for his own encounter with God. He was popular, talented and able to do anything that he set his mind to. He was smart and his natural giftings led to pride, ambition and determination. Many assumed he was happy but he wasn’t. Nothing was good enough for him. Winning left him unsatisfied and whenever the inevitable defeats came, they left him feeling bitter and angry. When trials came to challenge him they often left him in darkness which led him to additions and increasing personal troubles. His parents, however, kept encouraging him and challenging his self reliance and he began to open up to the possibility of a personal God. His family hosted some Hard as Nails missionaries and through his interactions with them he began to see hope and the beginning of a call to help others. Their selfless giving showed him a different way to live and gave him a deeper sense of purpose in life. Through their witness and discipleship, he followed the call to dedicate a year of his life to helping others to encounter Christ in a vital way. 

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Xaverine Celia Moneboulou Mbazoa (2024 Grantee)

Originally From: Cameroon,

Serving with: FOCUS Ministries

Studied: Biology/Prehealth at  University of Colorado

About: Celia is from  Cameroon Africa and grew up in a mixed faith family where she was exposed to beautiful expressions of christian faith from Catholic and non-Catholic traditions. So she knew and heard about Jesus from a very early age but it was more of a one way experience of her talking to God without really listening to Him. So this resulted in a life lived on her own terms with expectations that God would bless her life even though sometimes she was wrestling with sin. God blessed her with some very simple supernatural encounters and so decided to ask God to show her which Church she should worship in, Catholic or protestant. Through a dream God showed her that He wanted her to serve Him in the Catholic Church. As a result, she began to dive into the lives of the Saints, deeper prayer and the real presence of Jesus in the Sacraments. She grew steadily in her faith until she moved to the USA and found that she no longer enjoyed the community she had in her home country. It was on campus, through the ministry of FOCUS that she began to experience the community that she longed for. The impact of the missionaries on her life made her desire to serve that way as well but her parents were not supportive. So she prayed that her parents would have a change of heart and as her mother prayed for her daughter, she felt the Lord challenge her to “let her daughter go”. Now free to choose, she made the decision to serve God in simple but direct ways and to use her experiences as a Catholic graduate student to draw others deeper in faith as she prays to be a light in the darkness.

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Christine Joy Moran (2024 Grantee)

Originally From: Philippines

Serving with: FOCUS Ministries

Studied: Architecture/Gerontology Kansas State University, 

About: Joy was raised in a Catholic family that encouraged her to success and academic achievement more than faith. When her family came to the USA, Joy excelled in her studies but still felt an emptiness as she pursued the accolades of the world. Even in college, as she excelled, she saw the vanity of a life lived without deep friendships and especially without God. God met her in her need through the work of FOCUS missionaries on her campus where she learned that the God of the universe loved her and wanted a deep relationship with her. The missionaries showed her the gravity of God’s mercy and the need to respond to God’s call. She attended the bible study that they put on where she heard about the Samaritan woman at the well and her thirst for more in life. Through that story she realized that Jesus saw her for more than the sins that she’d committed but for the saint that she could become. As she embraced her newfound identity as a beloved daughter of God, she began to feel a call to serve God as a missionary like the women who served her. So in opposition to her parents, she took a detour from her expected normal career to invest in the souls of the students that she would encounter on the campus where God would send her. Through her service, she has seen firsthand that the impact of meeting the students in their brokenness and speaking the truth of the Gospel in their lives is something no other job can fulfill.

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Joseph Terrones (2023 Grantee)

Originally From: Landstuhl, Germany

Serving with: FOCUS Ministries

Studied: Microbiology at Texas Tech University 

About: Joseph grew up in a military family and was raised Catholic but had many doubts in HS. As he questioned his faith he was told “you just have to have faith”. These questions persisted and his natural curiosity led him to study microbiology in college with the hopes of going to Med school.  While in college, he was focused mostly on academic success and building self reliance. Once, however, during lent he made the decision to take the season more seriously. A Dominican brother encouraged him to read the Summa Theologica and it answered a lot of questions. This encouraged him to do more and so he volunteered to serve on a mission to Peru. The experience of prayer and service on that trip was so transformative that he was inspired to give God not just his mind but his heart as well. This led to even more involvement in campus ministry which inspired him ultimately to apply to serve with FOCUS. His ministry is inspired by Jesus’ word from the cross, “I thirst”. Those words  remind him of Christ and how He is calling all people back to Himself. To share Christ with others is to introduce them to the fulfillment of all their desires. In the words of St. Augustine, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”

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Kami Beliard  (2023 Grantee)

Originally From: FL

Serving with: FOCUS Ministries

Studied: Psychology (Developmental) at George Mason University

About: Kami comes from a Catholic family with origins in Haiti but she was somewhat of a moral relativist and a nominal christian in HS. She experienced many different christian faiths but couldn’t decide between her pull towards the baptist faith embraced by some family members and the Catholic faith. In college, she experienced loneliness which led her one night to make a desperate cry to God in prayer for help. Through a series of grace filled coincidences, she took steps in faith to get involved in her campus ministry fellowship and she began to grow. She went on a mission trip to Peru and that experience really drove her faith forward. Then she went through RCIA where her questions were answered and her experience of faith deepened. Then, it took a near death experience at a beach to spark a devotion to the Blessed Mother whose prayers she felt were responsible for rescuing her.  Subsequently, the campus FOCUS ministry was a key factor in her understanding, growth and connection to faith. She has served several years in ministry with FOCUS and she is currently seriously discerning religious life.

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Brenda Manzano (2023 Grantee)

Originally From: TX

Serving with: FOCUS Ministries

Studied: Political Science and Government at TX State Univ. 

About:  She is the second eldest of 5 siblings who was raised as a Mexican American in TX. Although culturally Catholic and sacramentalized as a child she had a little faith in childhood that faded soon after confirmation. After high school she went to Tx State Univ with plans to be an immigration lawyer but the pressures of college and her own perfectionism left her feeling lost and depressed. A HS teacher she trusted encouraged her to get involved in campus ministry. She went back to college and began to return to the practice of her faith and eventually became involved in the FOCUS ministry. Through the women who encouraged her and her investment in a bible study she grew tremendously in her faith and began to serve a a leader in the campus ministry. Ultimately, she was invited by a missionary to apply to serve with FOCUS where she works to share the hope of eternity with Christ with those who have yet to receive this good news.

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Xavier Grah (2023 Grantee)

Originally From: TX

Serving with: FOCUS Ministries

Studied: International Business and Linguistics at Angelo St. Univ. 

About: Xavier’s family had african roots and so he grew up in an ethnically african parish. Here he grew steadily in the faith of his parents while serving in choir and serving the parish. However, college presented a different atmosphere, with many students prioritizing the pursuit of pleasure and parties over matters of spirituality. During this time, he faced challenges commonly faced by young men and women on college campuses today. Deep down, however, he knew something was missing, something that only God could provide. A turning point came when he encountered inspiring individuals who motivated him to pursue a virtuous life and develop a personal relationship with Christ. Through amazing bible studies and transformative retreats, his faith deepened. Through the ministry of FOCUS he was able to continue the faith that he had in his youth and to even use it to reach other African students on campus. He has been a bridge between cultures within the Newman center on campus and because FOCUS missionaries were the greatest impact in keeping him on track in college it felt natural to choose to serve with them.

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Gabe Tisnes  (2023 Grantee)

Originally From: FL

Serving with: SPO Ministries

Studied: Communication (Editing, Writing & Media) at FL State Univ.

About: Although born in FL, Gabe was raised in Panama. He was raised culturally Catholic and didn’t realize that how he was living conflicted with Gospel values. He moved around a bit from Panama to FL to OK and all of the moving left him very confused, depressed and questioning. He casually considered other Christian faiths but it was in College that he encountered SPO missionaries who pushed him to look at his faith more deeply. The excellence they embodied became something he desired to emulate and promote in those around him. The virtuous men that God put into his life through the campus ministry and his experience of living in household for 3 years only deepened his experience of faith. Soon he found himself not only attending retreats but leading them as well. He went through two summer internships with SPO which planted the seeds of an idea to consider serving as a missionary. That seed grew and developed in spite of very real challenges in his family and in ministry. He saw, in the household program, an incredible space to live an intense and virtue-oriented lifestyle with the guidance of the Holy Spirit along with the cultivation of a healthy brotherhood that our world desperately needs right now.“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

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Giselle Bernabe  (2023 Grantee)

Originally From:Greenwood, SC 

Serving with: FOCUS Ministries

Studied: Psychology at  Clemson University

About: Giselle was essentially a cultural Catholic until her faith began to spark in college as a result of questions regarding her purpose and place in life. She floated in and out of college ministry events and as she did so her faith waxed and waned. Then the Covid hit and that experience halted that searching until, through a series of  very unforeseen circumstances,  she found herself living with a FOCUS missionary who loved her and challenged her to do more to invest in her faith. As she grew more in her faith, she found myself constantly feeling unseen because of her background and her culture. She didn’t understand. If she had a Father who loved her so well and knew her so well why did she feel unseen? Was the Father knowing ALL of her not enough? She realized that she wasn’t allowing the Lord to enter into this huge aspect of her life, her culture, and it was only keeping her in a mentality of focusing on her differences from everyone. Through constant prayer, she came to surrender this part of her that she was holding onto tightly. As she grew in faith, she began to experience healing in her identity as a daughter of God. Now she wants to help others find their purpose and calling in life as she has. 

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Mariell Surin  (2023 Grantee)

Originally From: FL

Serving with: SPO Ministries

Studied: Psychology at Univ of South FL

About: Marielle grew up in a household of Haitian parents who went to mass regularly and attended religious ed. In elementary school, she had a good experience with Sunday school and even joined the choir and was excited to receive Jesus in the eucharist when she made her first communion. In middle school, however, her cousin developed and died from leukemia which really challenged her faith in God for a long time. Then in HS, through her confirmation process, the Holy Spirit began to work powerfully in her life. Her HS youth group and college campus ministry watered that seed and she began to serve and get involved. During the pandemic, however, she began to feel very isolated and far from faith again. Then she went to an SPO Summer internship where her faith was revived and deepened even more as she began to sense a call to serve with SPO. During her final year of college she served in leadership which only deepened her faith convictions and gave her an openness to apply and make the decision to serve with SPO. Her hope was that by saying yes to being on mission for the Lord through SPO, she could mirror Mary’s yes and allow the Lord to work in and through her life, despite not knowing what is yet to come.

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Brandon Ruiz  (2022 Grantee)

Originally From: New Jersey

Serving with: Saint Paul's Outreach at Benedictine College, KS

Studied: Business Management at Seton Hall Univ, NJ      Ministry Donor Link

AboutBrandon grew up in a Puerto-Rican Family with a single mother who raised him with a mix of evangelical Christian and Catholic faiths attending both Evangelical Christian and Catholic schools. In his youth, he had always believed in God but never really went to church on Sundays and didn’t have any kind of a prayer life. So when he headed to college he was really looking forward to getting involved with the party/frat culture. During that first week of college, as he was in search of a friends to watch a popular boxing match, he accepted an invitation to watch it at a campus ministry house off-campus which turned out to be his first SPO men’s event.

Here he met guys who were trying to get to know him in a genuine way and it was really attractive. As he started to spend time at the house he met some of the missionaries who pulled him into ministry events and began to speak truth into his life. He began to join them for church on Sundays , for campus ministry nights and even morning prayer. At a retreat freshman year, he experienced what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ for the first time and to pray for a deeper release of the Holy Spirit in his life. As he became more involved in campus ministry, God began to call him to consider becoming a missionary after graduation.

As he prayed about this, the Lord showed him in a really clear way that he had been preparing him for years for this important and vital work. He revealed to him the phrase “If I could do all these things with 25% of your time, what could I do if you gave me 100% of it”. At that point he knew that this mission was something that the Lord was calling him to.

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Georgette Saer (2022 & 2023 Grantee)

Originally From: Colombia, SA

Serving with: Saint Paul's Outreach at Texas State University

Studied: Clinical Psychology at the University of Central Florida, Orlando       Ministry Donor Link

About: In 2001, Georgette's family moved to the United States from Colombia in search of better opportunities. Her extended family in Colombia were culturally Catholic but her parents were committed to the faith encouraging her to attend parish youth group and retreats in High School. By the time she graduated high school and entered college, most of her church friends had either left the faith or were on their way out. In her first two years of college, she felt alone as she struggled to maintain her faith and she drifted into the typical college scene. This was deeply unsatisfying and so she began to look for more.

During her second year, she was invited to a prayer meeting at a friend’s house and God spoke to her for the first time telling her that He loved me and that she had never been alone. She knew her life had meaning and worth and she wanted to aspire for greatness. She began to reinvest in her home parish and to grow spiritually. At college she was invited by her older brother to a retreat hosted by the Catholic Campus Ministry at UCF even though she was not a student there. Here she met many college students who had a passion and zeal for their faith. She felt loved and seen by everyone and the (SPO) missionaries actively pursued her in relationship. By the end of the retreat, she felt so at home with the students that she transferred to UCF the following fall semester. In her last year she lived in a women’s household and through that experience of fruitful friendships began to desire to be on a mission. She knew that God wanted to use her cultural roots to reach other hispanics on campus in the way that others may not be able to do and that's what she's doing as she serves as a missionary in TX.

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Noah Rescate  (2022 & 2023 Grantee)

Originally From: Sacramento, CA

Serving with: Saint Paul's Outreach at University of Cincinnati, OH

Studied:       Ministry Donor Link

About: Noah's parents are immigrants from the Philippines who left their Catholic faith in college for non-denominational christianity prior to coming to the USA. Despite that influence, faith wasn’t a huge part of his life. He would go to church on Sundays and pray before meals believing that this was the peak of Christianity. For him, Sports was the biggest thing in his life and it’s what kept him on the "right path" especially in high school.  He became involved in an Olympic development program and was able to represent Team USA in international competitions.
In freshman year of college, sports were replaced with college life which led to partying, alcohol, drugs, and sexual sin. This left him empty and so, sophomore year, he decided to pursue better influences. He was pulled into an SPO men’s group and the campus ministry and so when his girlfriend broke up with him at 2am he called one of the missionaries for support. At that hour, the missionary picked up and told him to come to the house to talk. On his way, he prayed, “Lord, I feel like I have nothing left, what do you want from me?” Jesus replied “Will you be all in? I don’t want 80% or 99.999%. Will you be all in for me?” He had no idea what that meant, but he figured he'd give the Lord a shot. From there, he really started to dive into the community and to pursue his faith. He was still protestant and had no intentions of becoming Catholic because of doubts related to the Eucharist. That doubt was quieted at a retreat where they offered adoration. At the retreat he found himself bowing before the monstrance and asking  myself “why did I just bow for a piece of bread?” He heard the Lord say to him “because that’s me”. He later became Catholic his junior year, and lived in the men’s house for 2 years.
He began to feel a call to mission but wasn't sure if it was in the workforce or college
ministry. He felt the pressure of being a first-generation Filipino-American and growing up
with the idea of working hard and getting a good job. On the first day of my senior year, the Holy Spirit led him to a freshman, Filipino, from CA, obsessed with girls. It was like looking into a mirror! As he discipled the young man, he invited him to a retreat where the young man had a powerful encounter with Christ. That experience filled him with conviction that he just told the Lord,“Yes Lord, this is what I want to do, I want to bring your sons back home to you.” It was so clear he was giving me a heart for men, just like me, so I applied to be an SPO missionary.

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Pascale Kunda (2021 & 2022 Grantee)

Originally From: Rwanda

Serving with: Saint Paul's Outreach at the Univ of MN

Studied: Mechanical Engineering at the Univ of St. Thomas       Ministry Donor Link

About: The Father has been chasing me since day one, and his love has been morphing me into God’s image. My parents are Catholic and although they themselves did not attend mass, they always encouraged me to go. I would go and pray in our small adoration Chapel after mass but it did not really change my character or behaviors. I would consider Jesus on Sundays. In 2014, Jesus met me in my high school and radically changed my life. He helped me understand his sacrifice for me and helped me become more committed to him. I started praying and reading the scriptures but it was not until 2017 that my relationship with him really skyrocketed when I prayed to receive more of the Holy Spirit and after that my life became a journey of sanctification. I started hearing the voice of the Lord more clearly and encountered the power of the Holy Spirit in a Fan Into Flame retreat which not only impacted my worship, but also my understanding of my relationship with God. I am happy to say that I am still running the race set before me with endurance fixing my eyes on Jesus the Lord, the founder and perfecter of my faith

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Cecilio Lopez  (2021 & 2023 Grantee)

Originally From: TX

Serving with: Saint Paul's Outreach at Univ of Cent FL

Studied: Spanish & sociology minor in English at Tx State Univ         Ministry Donor Link

AboutI was raised culturally Catholic my faith was something you did on Christmas and\aster. In High School God touched a deep part of my heart in a retreat called Busqueda. After the retreat I got seriously involved with the ministry. In college, I wanted to continue my faith journey, but I was not able to stay as engaged with my church and faith. Each year I seemed to get further out into the world without knowing it. Then in my last year of undergrad, God put men in my life that would call me to more. Through the men of Saint Paul’s Outreach, I was able to submerge myself in an environment of true masculinity and Christian Brotherhood. For my Senior year of college, I was able to walk with many first-year students and see the Lord work in their lives. Seeing their lives transformed allowed me to consider full-time mission work. The need is great, and I knew with my experience many students would be blessed. Especially those who come from immigrant backgrounds.

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Santonio Hill (2021 & 2022 Grantee)

Originally From:MD

Serving with: Vagabond Missions in Pittsburg, PA 

Studied: Philosophy at Cath Univ of America                 Ministry Donor Link

About: I was raised a cradle Catholic but didn't have a real relationship with God growing. I spent my days chasing the world and investing in my love of football. I was offered a scholarship to play in college but as I considered this move, I was encouraged by a priest to consider the seminary. At first I declined but I felt God spoke to me in a dream encouraging me to reconsider. I went to seminary and discerned out but the experience I was able to truly fall in love with God and make deep change. After seminary I worked for the church as a religion teacher, a FOCUS missionary for 3 yrs and then worked in the Archdiocese of Phil doing urban outreach. This is where I encountered and felt called to Vagabond Ministry

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