INDIANAPOLIS — Fellowship of Catholic University Students founder Curtis Martin encouraged members to recall the real purpose of their lives while speaking at the organization’s annual conference.

“Eternal life is all that matters,” Martin told a packed conference hall Thursday, the opening day of the “SEEK 2019” conference in Indianapolis.

In a keynote speech, Martin reminded the crowd that their primary focus in life is to seek heaven and to live out their mission here on earth, rather than becoming embroiled in day-to-day cares and materialistic goals.

“This is why you’re here — nothing else matters,” said Martin, joking that, in heaven, no one will care if a person had owned an expensive car.

The five-day event marks the 20th anniversary of the first Fellowship of Catholic University Students conference. Martin noted that in two decades, the event has grown from 20 students from Benedictine College to include more than 17,000 attendees, with thousands more watching online. The campus-missionary group was founded in 1998 and seeks to evangelize college students. Fellowship of Catholic University Students says its missionaries are currently present on more than 150 campuses throughout the United States and Europe.

Despite the success and growth of the event, Martin insisted that “not much has changed” in modern culture since that first conference and that there is still an urgent need for Christian leaders in the world.

“The message is still: ‘Christ is the key, and you’re the answer,’” he said. “The world is still waiting for Christlike leaders to better shape society.”  

These leaders need to have both moral authority and spiritual gravity, Martin said, giving an example of Mother Teresa confronting a pro-abortion politician about that anti-life stance during a Mass. Mother Teresa had moral authority, Martin said, which meant that her concerns and advice were taken seriously by others.

“There’s two types of people in this world: There’s thermometers, and there’s thermostats,” he told the attendees in the conference hall. “When you walk into a room, does the room impact you, or do you impact the room?”

Christlike leaders must be “thermostats,” he explained, especially in a world where current culture tells people that their lives have no meaning or purpose and that their existence is the result of “random chaos.”

In this culture, Martin said, Christians are called to announce that Christ “loved [each person] into existence” and that each of them will be “loved for eternity.”

“The world says you’re nothing; Christ says you’re almost everything.” He advised the crowd to “pursue truth so that you can live in love forever,” rather than pursuing earthly desires that have left human nature wounded by sin.

God, Martin said, created human beings to do “amazing” works and not to live in a kind of virtual reality or video game. It is important, he told attendees, to go into the world, to take risks in order to live a full life as designed by Christ, with the eventual goal of making it to heaven.

Catholics were not made for the “pleasures” of this world, he explained, but instead they were made for and by Christ. They are called to find out their purpose in this world, in order to find “everlasting happiness.”