By Alaine DeSantis
On Thursday, Jan. 3, 28 students departed in three vans to Indianapolis, Indiana for SEEK 2019, a conference presented by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). A Catholic collegiate outreach, FOCUS has as its mission the sharing of “…the hope and joy of the gospel with college and university students.” As part of this mission, FOCUS offers SEEK every two years, gathering thousands of college students from around the country to participate in five days of inspiring talks from charismatic speakers, fellowship with other Catholic college students and the opportunity to encounter Christ like never before.
On the last day of SEEK Father Mike Schmitz, a well-known Catholic speaker and social media figure, delivered a provoking talk on the battle of indifference in living out the Faith.
“Indifference does not mean not caring or being moved,” Schmitz said. “Indifference is not caring enough to act.”
He used this statement to illustrate how authentically living-out the Faith is not just about saying we are Christians but actually being Christians in our words and in our actions, in praying every day and in being committed to pursuing a relationship with Christ. Not only were the attendees moved by this compelling talk, but Schmitz himself was moved to tears as he told a stirring story from his own personal life to illustrate his point.
This talk and many others inspired DeSales students to bring this powerful message back to campus. Senior David Talarico, a newly hired FOCUS missionary starting this fall, stated that his experience at SEEK was “an amazing opportunity to witness other DeSales students have encounters with Christ and be set on fire to share that joy back on campus.”
Campus Ministry is already seeing the impact that this conference had on the students in their willingness to lead and participate in Catholic men’s and women’s Bible studies this semester. Many of the SEEK-attendees also plan on attending another conference that FOCUS offers, Student Leadership Summit (SLS) at the end of this year. Designed specifically for student leaders, this conference will provide students with the necessary tools to lead their peers closer to Christ.
In years past, DeSales has sent a handful of students to attend SEEK and bring back what they learned from it to campus. This year, DeSales brought their largest group ever, totaling 31 students all-together. DeSales students returned truly changed and determined to set the campus on fire for Christ. Sophomore Adrian Anatalio, first-time SEEK attendee, was transformed by his experience. His witness is just one example of the positive impact that this conference had on the attendees.
“SEEK 2019 changed my life, in every essence, with no exaggeration,” Anatalio stated. “I can testify to the fact that I encountered something more at the conference. I experienced Jesus Christ in such a way that was so affirming and joyful and impactful, that I actually live my life differently now. It gave me the push that I needed to be all in for God. The flame within me was enkindled by His love and mercy, and I am convicted to act in His name. I heard His call, and it transformed my heart and mind.”
Junior Isabel Fernandez, who has attended multiple FOCUS mission trips and conferences, commented, “SEEK 2019 was a transformational and powerful experience. It was so fun and spiritually enlightening. I hope DeSales becomes more involved with FOCUS missions in the future. Their mission, their events and their service trips have all changed my life.”
SEEK 2019 was truly a unique, impacting experience that has inspired the hearts of DeSales students to ignite the same joy of the gospel on campus that they have experienced at this incredible conference.
For information on these studies conducted on campus, please contact Campus Minister Maggie Riggins at Magdalene.Riggins@desales.edu.