More than 17,000 people signed up for SEEK2019: Encounter Something More, an event hosted by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) Jan. 3 – 7, 2019, in Indianapolis. All were encouraged to be missionary disciples by hearing, feeling and sharing the light of Christ and joy of the Gospel. The event filled many hearts with hope for a dynamic future of the Church.
Livestreamed videos of SEEK2019 keynotes and daily Masses are posted along with event photos at Facebook.com/FocusCatholic.
Nearly 12,000 college students from 626 campuses and several international locations attended the Collegiate Track, which discussed topics relevant to young adults. University of Nebraska-Lincoln brought the largest campus group with 325 students. Benedictine College had the second-largest group with 323 students.
Jessica Angeles, a student attending the University of Southern California, grew up Catholic but had felt herself growing distant from the Church and God in the past few years. She said adoration was a revelation for her.
“The moment I saw the Eucharist, I felt pure joy and peace that I have never felt before,” said Angeles. “I realized how strong the presence of God was as He lifted the burdens in my heart, which I hadn’t shared with Him. I decided to trust in the Lord with my joy and pain and to walk with Him as I face the challenges of life.”
More than 400 priests concelebrated daily Mass, including Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila (Denver), Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio (Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA), Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan (Waterford and Lismore, Ireland), Bishop Philip Egan (Portsmouth, England), Bishop Thomas Paprocki (Springfield, Illinois) and Bishop Luis Manuel (Bogotá, Columbia). During Sunday’s Epiphany Mass, Archbishop Aquila encouraged attendees to pray for the gift of faith and illuminate others by inspiring hope in times of darkness.
Priests heard more than 6,500 confessions during the five-day event, with 4,700 of those heard in just two hours during Adoration and Confession Night on Saturday evening. Nearly 500 chaplains and campus ministers registered for the Campus Ministry Track, sharing insights on creating vibrant campus ministries.
More than 1,700 people joined the Lifelong Mission Track, which shared ideas, inspiration and resources on how to be missionary disciples in families, parishes and careers. That number included more than 800 FOCUS alumni and parishioners from more than 1,000 parishes.
FOCUS presented the 2019 St. Pope John Paul II Award to Dr. Scott Hahn, in recognition of how he has helped guide FOCUS since its founding in 1998. The award honors leaders in the New Evangelization whose impact is multiplied by their extraordinary investment in others.
FOCUS benefactors Jim and Molly Perry received the 2019 St. Joseph Award, which honors individuals who promote and reinvigorate the Church with their extraordinary generosity and focus on evangelization.
FOCUS Greek partnered with Catholic Charities Indianapolis and St. John’s Garden Door Ministry for the SEEK2019 Donation Drive. Attendees filled 25 50-gallon bins with clothing and hygiene Items.
The event included a Festival of Nations dance hosted by FOCUS Missions, celebrating unique cultures from around the world. Several speakers throughout the event discussed sharing the faith with diverse audiences, including Fr. Agustino Torres, C.F.R. in the bilingual session, “Mi cultura, mi fe | My Culture, My Faith.”
Entertainment included Christian rock band NEEDTOBREATHE, comedian Michael Jr. and eight-time Grammy nominee Matt Maher. Special guests at Varsity Catholic events included Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Trevor Williams and former Super Bowl Champion Matt Birk.
Keynote speakers for SEEK2019 included Sr. Bethany Madonna, S.V., Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, Fr. Mike Schmitz, Leah Darrow, Jason Evert, Jennifer Fulwiler, Dr. Scott Hahn, Curtis Martin, Dr. Edward Sri and Chris Stefanick.
Many other world-renowned Catholic speakers shared perspectives on current faith issues, including experts such as Fr. Philip Bochanski, Dcn. Harold Burke-Sivers, Fr. John Burns, Lisa Brenninkmeyer, Crystalina Evert, Stephanie Gray, Trent Horn, Paul J. Kim, Dr. Jonathan Reyes, Lila Rose, Sarah Swafford, Brandon Vogt, George Weigel and Emily Wilson.
FOCUS events have welcomed more than 78,000 attendees since the inaugural National Conference held in 1999, where 25 students came together to pray, deepen their Catholic faith and learn how to share Christ with others. The total number of SEEK2019 registrants represents a 35 percent increase over the nearly 13,000 attendees who attended SEEK2017, the last SEEK event held two years ago.
Sponsors for SEEK2019 included the Augustine Institute, Benedictine College, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Knights of Columbus, Our Sunday Visitor, Servants of Christ Jesus, The Catholic University of America Office of Graduate Studies and Word on Fire.
Information on the next national FOCUS event, SLS20 (Dec. 30 – Jan. 3, 2020, in Phoenix), is available at www.SLS20.org.
Copyright 2019 Leslie Prevish for FOCUS
About FOCUS: The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) was founded in 1998 and invites college students into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church, inspiring and equipping them for a lifetime of Christ-centered evangelization, discipleship and friendships in which they lead others to do the same. During the 2018 – 2019 academic year, nearly 700 missionaries are serving full-time on 153 college campuses, located across 42 U.S. states and at five international locations. Tens of thousands of students have been involved with FOCUS, who after graduation have the opportunity to move into parish life to continue their missionary work. Among these FOCUS Alumni, 732 have made decisions to pursue Catholic religious vocations. By 2022, FOCUS expects — God willing — to have 75,000 students transitioned into many of America’s 17,000+ Catholic parishes. FOCUS missionaries are typically recent college graduates who devote two or more years of their post-collegiate lives to reach out to peers on campus. To learn more, visit us at www.focus.org.