Instead of taking a J-Term class this winter, a group of Students from Loras attended a Catholic conference from Jan. 3-7 titled SEEK in Indianapolis, Indiana. SEEK is a conference hosted by FOCUS every other year, taking place in a new location each time. The conference brings together university students who are connected with FOCUS, and are looking for a greater exposure to Christ. It is an experience of great encounter, with thousands of other young adults from around the country, and different nations as well. All are welcomed to SEEK and are encouraged to attend with an open mind. Whether Catholic, Atheist, or even unsure about religion or God, all were greeted with outstretched arms and welcomed to attend the conference.
The group FOCUS who hosted the event is by no means new or breaking the ice. The Fellowship of Catholic University Students has been around since 1998 and was founded by Curtis Martin of Benedictine College. FOCUS engages in university outreach and intends to help college students develop authentic friendships while diving deeper into their relationship with Christ. Loras currently has four serving missionaries, all of which attended SEEK, Hunter Beggs, Hayden Merkel, Veronica Kremer, and John Piccone.
SEEK was an experience that offered many opportunities to grow for all who attended. The day was started with Mass, a celebration of the Eucharist with over 17,000 people. Each day offered a gender specific talk for both groups and brought forward topics of great importance for each. The rest of the afternoon was accompanied by a series of speakers giving talks about topics of their expertise and experiences. Each talk had its own message, and students could pick and choose the talks in which they wanted to attend. Each night was ended with another talk as an entire group and an entertainment event of some sort. The nights featured a comedian, a movie, a cultural festival and music group, and the last night featured a concert by the band “Need to Breathe”. One of the nights featured adoration and confession with everyone, where many hearts were touched by the true presence of Christ. The conference was concluded the same way it started with Mass as an entire group, but with a group of over 17,000 people who had been touched, and had a burning passion to share their experience at SEEK 2019.
Here are just a few testimonies of those from Loras students who attended SEEK:
“I signed up for SEEK because I’ve never been to a conference like SEEK before. I was unable to attend NCYC in high school so I thought why not try something similar to it in college. I had no idea what to expect going into it because I have never been on anything like it before.” – Sophomore Meredith Recker
“I was expecting an opportunity to grow closer with Jesus Christ with so many amazing Duhawks. My expectations definitely stayed true because not only did I grow closer in my relationship with God, but also with so many amazing young men and women.” – Junior Jake Heidenreich
“My experience at SEEK was honestly life changing. I was able to grow in an authentic community with those around me. My biggest takeaway from SEEK would be that it is only when we deny the world’s lies and expectations about who we ‘should’ be that we are able to truly love who God created us to be, and that is when we can live authentically with one another.” – Junior Catherine Klostermann
“Overall, my SEEK experience was awesome. I would give it a 10/10. The group from Loras that went was awesome, which definitely added to the experience. My favorite part was something that I think was universally liked- Eucharistic Adoration. It was so cool being in a room with thousands and thousands of other college students, being at complete peace, Adoring Jesus, there’s nothing even comparable.” – Junior Ethan Holverson
“I would recommend SEEK to anyone who is searching for answers in their lives or what they value. I say this because each speaker set a good example of how we should all go out and carry our lives with an enthusiasm of what we value, and to ‘go out and set the world on fire’ (St. Ignatius).” – Sophomore Valerie Herbst
Hunter Beggs, head FOCUS missionary here on campus, explained some of the important things they see as missionaries about students attending SEEK.
“My hopes for those attending SEEK were to provide space and time for God to speak to their hearts and give them a chance to hear His specific call for their lives. His plans come from His deep love for us. SEEK is an opportunity for people to ‘cast out into the deep’. It is a chance for college students and others to come together as a universal Church and see what great things God is doing in our time. Moving forward from SEEK, I hope to see the attendees cooperate with God’s grace to live lives of heroic holiness. I pray that they aren’t afraid to rock the boat and do something great for God in response to His call. Everything is God’s initial invitation, and I hope they respond on a daily level.”
Those who attended SEEK will be prepared to come back to campus with a renewed heart of faith and love for Christ. Many of them can’t wait to share this burning passion with the rest of Loras. SEEK will be hosted again in January of 2021, at a location not yet released.