Loras students SEEK Jesus at FOCUS conference
Every other year, FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) hosts a conference for young adults all across the country. This conference, called SEEK, was held in San Antonio, Texas from Jan. 3-7.
This year’s theme was “What Moves You?” Each day, keynote speakers spoke to the group about how God moves people in their hearts, in their relationships, and in the world. Some of the speakers included John O’Leary, Fr. Mike Schmitz, Sr. Bethany Madonna as well as founder, Curtis Martin.
In the morning, attendees would arrive for morning mass to start the day. Directly after, the conference would split into girl and guy sessions that included talks from Jason and Crystalina Evert, Lisa Cotter, Fr. Josh Johnson, Leah Darrow, and Lou Holtz.
Each afternoon, there were two breakout sessions where students could choose which talks to attend. Each session had from five to eight speakers ensuring that each session would have at least one talk that interested each individual. The titles of talks ranged from “How I Found Truth as an Atheist” to “Who Am I to Judge?—Responding to Relativism With Logic and Love” to “Dating Detox” to “Would Pope Francis Smoke Weed With Me? The Church’s Thoughts on Recreational Marijuana.”
“Sr. Bethany Madonna’s talk touched my heart,” said FOCUS missionary, Hunter Beggs. “She always tells the funniest stories and then draws a beautiful and profound bit of wisdom from them. As she was telling a story about a little boy, Sr. Bethany marveled at the beauty of our fingerprints. Imagine how much care and love our Heavenly Father put into one single fingerprint. No two fingerprints are alike, and the same is true of each of us. I was overwhelmed by the immensity of the Father’s love for me and so many others.”
The conference also provided opportunities for attendees to share their talents. Before the conference, students were able to audition for performances that would span throughout the afternoon sessions. Many students shared their gifts of music vocally and instrumentally. One of the performances even included brick-dancing priests.
Each night also commenced with entertainment. From comedy with Michael Jr. to “Hairspray and High Tops Dance” to a concert by “The Oh Hellos,” there was something for everyone. Other opportunities included 24 hour adoration, the SEEK bookstore and book signings by many Catholic authors. Many people also took the opportunity to explore the city of San Antonio by walking the River Walk or visiting the Alamo.
Many students were eager to share their excitement after the conference.
“I believe that everything we experience is life-changing, but SEEK was life-changing on steroids,” said sophomore Marcus Mills. “Not only did I get to experience the amazing witness of nearly 13,000 Catholic college students, I also got to dive into and FOCUS (pun intended) solely on my faith in Christ for a whole week!”
“SEEK was an incredible time to gather together and see the Church alive and on fire with Jesus Christ,” said Beggs.
A common theme with most of the stories was the awe of the sheer numbers at the conference, testimony to the vibrant young population of the Catholic Church.
“The SEEK conference is a once in a lifetime experience,” said sophomore Sloan Neuzil. “As a college student, gathering with 13,000 fellow passionate young adults, who are chasing Christ, places you face to face with the Holy Spirit. Having the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the most intelligent Catholic minds truly instills both the inspiration and tools within your heart to set the world on fire.”
“It was so amazing to be in the presence of God, and people who deeply desired to get to know God,” said AnneMarie Elsinger. “13,000 college students were gathered to learn how to be the best versions of themselves.”
SEEK talks and other resources are also available for purchase on the FOCUS online bookstore. Go to https://www.shopfocus.org/ to learn more.