The Church Is Young and Alive! FOCUS Gathers 17,000 Young Catholics at #SEEK23

As always, the speakers offered many faith-filled insights.

The hallmarks of SEEK23 were prayer, including Mass and adoration, and edifying talks by such speakers as Father Mike Schmitz.
The hallmarks of SEEK23 were prayer, including Mass and adoration, and edifying talks by such speakers as Father Mike Schmitz. (photo: Courtesy of Fellowship of Catholic University Students)

The Fellowship of Catholic University Students’ latest conference — SEEK23 — was held this week in St. Louis, welcoming college students and thousands of others for times of prayer, fellowship and edifying talks.

As always, the speakers offered many faith-filled insights.

Sister of Life Bethany Madonna, in her Jan. 3 keynote, underscored: “There was something so compelling about Jesus.” Detailing his miracles of healing, casting out demons, raising the dead, rebuking the storm and forgiving sin, she emphasized: “Jesus gives us himself.”

Father Mike Schmitz, a Newman Center chaplain in Minnesota and podcast host of the popular The Bible in a Year and The Catechism in a Year, covered salvation history in his Jan. 3 keynote, noting the parting of the Red Sea and the institution of the Ten Commandments leading up to the truth of the Real Presence, as recounted in John 6.

“Jesus is who he says he is. Everything that he says is true, regardless of what our culture says.”

“Remember: ‘Faith is a relationship,’” Father Schmitz added. “I can do nothing else but say Yes to the God of truth.”

Sister Miriam James Heidland of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity spoke Jan. 4, reminding attendees that Jesus is always close: “His heart is for you.”

She also spoke of Mary’s maternal concern as reflected in her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe: “Am I not your mother?” she reminded St. Juan Diego ... as she reminds us today.

She also spoke of God’s goodness and the reality of the cross and the depth of Jesus’ love: “It is good that you exist and that I exist.” 

Father Josh Johnson, a pastor and vocation director in the Diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, also spoke Jan. 4, highlighting the story of St. Peter ahead of Eucharistic adoration.

 “If we can give our hearts to Jesus … then we too can become the saints that Jesus invites us to be.”

Theologian Edward Sri addressed the life-giving sacraments offered in the Church and the holy ones who live for God on Jan. 5: “What God did in those saints, he wants to do in you and me.”  

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Jonathan Roumie, the actor who plays Jesus in The Chosen series, also made an appearance. 

SEEK23 also included a showing of Thirst for Souls: The Michelle Duppong Story, a documentary highlighting the life of Servant of God Michelle Duppong, a former FOCUS missionary.


Honoring Benedict XVI

In addition, SEEK23 honored the late Benedict XVI, including a requiem Mass on Jan. 5. Speakers and attendees also shared their remembrances of the pope emeritus this week.

During his homily, Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, reflected, “The passing of Pope Benedict is a reminder of God’s divine love for us and the opportunity to respond to the Lord.” 

Overall, SEEK23 welcomed 24 bishops who concelebrated Mass with more than 300 priests.



Next year’s gathering will again be held in St. Louis.

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