DENVER, Feb. 7, 2021 — SEEK21 brought together more than 27,000 people from 20 countries and six continents to encounter Christ and share the Gospel during the interactive, immersive event Feb. 4 – 7, 2021, making it the largest event to-date for FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). FOCUS projects that more than 100,000 people will attend a FOCUS conference in the next five years, drawing them into a deeper encounter with Christ and increased zeal for evangelization. SEEK21 photos and videos from around the world are on the FOCUS social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. FOCUS also announced that next year’s conference, SEEK22, will be hosted in Salt Lake City, Utah, Dec. 30 – Jan. 3, 2022. Registration is open at seek.focus.org/seek22.
College students, missionaries, FOCUS alumni, parishioners, young adults, benefactors, clergy, religious and many others gathered in Catholic centers, parishes, living rooms, outdoor tents and wherever they could safely congregate to journey together during SEEK21 and ask the big questions about joy, peace, hope and salvation. Designed to be experienced in community, SEEK21 discussions and activities among small groups of family members and friends provided opportunities for people to grow in faith and encounter Christ in a deeper way, both personally and in community.
SEEK21 combined the best of live conferences and virtual gatherings, giving each host site, whether a household, small group, parish or campus location, the flexibility to personalize their schedules. SEEK Hosting Resources included Safety & Security guidelines, which encouraged participants to research, understand and enforce all local and state COVID restrictions.
More than 3,000 small groups and more than 12,000 students, chaplains and campus ministers participated on campuses with FOCUS missionaries. Texas A&M topped the list of campuses participating, bringing together more than 400 students.
University of Cincinnati FOCUS Team Director Anthony Cirillo said, “SEEK21 blew away the expectations of all the students from our campus and the others who joined us from Xavier University, Miami University and Wright State University for Mass with Archbishop Schnurr and an evening of Eucharistic adoration. We had fun and fellowship during activities at a brewery and bowling alley. Powerful small group discussions and prayerful participation in the sacraments allowed the Holy Spirit to open the hearts of students to listen to His call to be disciples of Christ.”
Nearly 1,900 parishes participated in SEEK21 with small groups – virtually or in person. “It was a beautiful blessing to have 190 of our parishioners at SEEK21 at the parish and get to see firsthand how their hearts were enflamed by the proclamation of the Gospel,” said Chris Mueller FOCUS alum and current Co-Director of Discipleship and Evangelization at Holy Family Catholic Church, Jacksonville, Florida. “My co-director Josie and I, along with our pastor Fr. David Keegan, saw our parishioners be enlightened by the truth of the Gospel and grow in love of God and one another throughout the event in their small groups. I have no doubt the parishioners who attended will go forth and bring Christ to those in our community who need Him the most.”
The Sacraments are always a vital part of the SEEK experience. Many SEEK21 participants were able to attend Mass, go to Confession and adore the Blessed Sacrament with their small groups or in person at local churches. During the Worldwide Prayer Vigil Saturday, Feb. 6, thousands of people came together to ask God for an outpouring of His Spirit, for healing in today’s culture and our Church, and for the evangelization of all nations. Attendees rallied together as a universal Church to experience Eucharistic adoration in unprecedented ways, which included live adoration being offered in hundreds of locations simultaneously across the globe.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan (Archdiocese of New York), Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley (Archdiocese of Boston) and several other bishops recorded encouraging messages. Cardinal Dolan said, “I am praying with and for you. I love FOCUS, and I appreciate the charism.” Cardinal O’Malley called SEEK21, “an extraordinary program that will bring us closer to the Lord and help us to see the way forward in following Jesus.”
In addition to Bishop Robert E. Barron, who spoke during the event, more than 20 bishops participated in SEEK21. Some celebrated Mass in their local parishes, depending on the location: Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila (Denver, Colo.) Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio (Archdiocese of the Military Services USA), Archbishop William E. Lori (Baltimore, Md.), Archbishop Nelson J. Perez (Philadelphia, Pa.), Archbishop Dennis Marion Schnurr (Cincinnati, Ohio), Bishop John O. Barres (Rockville Centre, N.Y.), Bishop Peter F. Christensen (Boise, Idaho), Bishop James D. Conley (Lincoln, Neb.) , Bishop Thomas A. Daly (Spokane, Wash.), Bishop Donald E. DeGrood (Sioux Falls, S.D.), Bishop Joseph G. Hanefeldt (Grand Island, Neb.) , Bishop-elect Larry J. Kulick (Greensburg, Pa.), Bishop Daniel H. Mueggenborg (Seattle, Wash.), Bishop William H. Mulvey (Corpus Christi, Texas), Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann (Kansas City, Kan.), Bishop Steven J. Raica (Birmingham, Ala.), Bishop David L. Ricken (Green Bay, Wis.), Bishop Jorge H. Rodríguez (Denver, Colo.), Bishop Alfred A. Schlert (Allentown, Pa.), Bishop Joseph M. Siegel (Evansville, Ind.), Bishop Gerald L. Vincke (Salina, Kan.), Bishop David J. Walkowiak (Grand Rapids, Mich.).
World-renowned presenters and experts on evangelization spoke during SEEK21. Some of the speakers, such as Sr. Bethany Madonna, S.V., Dr. Edward Sri and Hilary Draftz delighted SEEK21 participants with surprise visits to parish and campus host sites. Additional keynote speakers included Fr. Mike Schmitz, Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, Francis Chan, Immaculée Ilibagiza, Curtis Martin and Dr. Jonathan Reyes. Impact session speakers included Msgr. James Shea, Tina Augustine, Louis Brown, Jeff Cavins, Leah Darrow, Jason Evert, Jennifer Fulwiler, Scott Hahn, Damon Owens, Oscar Rivera Jr., Lila Rose, Chris Stefanick, Sarah Swafford, Kim Zember, John Zimmer and many others.
Several speakers throughout the event presented FOCUS 153 bilingual talks or talks exclusively in Spanish, including Fr. Agustino Torres, C.F.R., whose keynote was, “Como Responder a la Vida, Muerte y Resurrección de Jesucristo (How to Respond to the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ).” FOCUS 153 seeks to equip every aspect of the apostolate to effectively reach all ethnic and racial demographics on campus and beyond. Additional speakers for the FOCUS 153 talks included Fr. Rafael Capó, Montse Alvarado, Priscilla Garza and Jeff Runyan.
In a live SEEK21 concert from his home in Nashville, Matt Maher performed several of his inspiring songs – including an impromptu version of “Lord, I Need You,” with his daughter Rowan. The Voices of Service delighted participants with a special performance during SEEK21. The Village Lights with Sarah Kroger, Ike Ndolo and Ricky Vasquez played session music and premiered a new single during the event. More than a dozen podcasters were involved with SEEK21, including All Things Catholic (with Dr. Edward Sri), Every Knee Shall Bow, Gregorian Rants, She Believed, The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz), The Catholic Conversation, The Crunch, The Word on the Hill with the Lanky Guys and To the Heights.
FOCUS presented the 2021 St. Francis Xavier Award to Brittany Anderson, given in recognition and appreciation of a FOCUS alumnus who has shown outstanding service to the New Evangelization. A FOCUS missionary from 2011 – 2013, Anderson is the Coordinator of Discipleship at St. Francis of Assisi in Grapevine, Texas. She continues her call to evangelization by hosting discipleship groups and encouraging women to grow deeper in faith and share the Gospel with others. She mentors 10 women, six of whom are mentoring other women.
FOCUS benefactor Michael Pascucci received the 2021 St. Joseph Award, which honors individuals who promote and reinvigorate the Church with their extraordinary generosity and focus on evangelization, and who have been heroically generous in their support of FOCUS by caring for the apostolate and mission. Pascucci lives in Long Island, New York, and has been a generous supporter of FOCUS for more than a decade.
For the last 20 years and counting, FOCUS has helped spark a fire of faith on college campuses around the country. At SEEK21, FOCUS launched the Run so as to Win Campaign, with a goal to reach more campuses and parishes across the world, implement more effective programming and strengthen the apostolate so that efforts on campus and beyond will help a greater number of people encounter Christ and be equipped to renew the culture. Details are at focus.org/run.
SEEK21 excitement will continue through an exclusive FOCUS Lenten Bible Study for parishioners, alumni and benefactors hosted by Martin and Sri, which will build on the momentum of SEEK21 by encouraging each person to be a missionary disciple – wherever they are. The 12-week Bible study will dive deeply into salvation history and immerse attendees into the story of God’s love revealed throughout history, which has shaped FOCUS for the past 23 years.
FOCUS announced the new resource Foundations for Discipleship, at SEEK21, a tool designed to form and accompany others on their journey as Christian disciples. Dr. Sri shared, “If you read it by yourself, it might change your life; if you use it to lead others, you might change the world.” More information is at focus.org/foundations.
Premier Level Sponsors for SEEK21 included Hallow App, Knights of Columbus, Seton Teaching Fellows, Vagabond Missions, Divine Mercy University, the University of Mary, Relevant Radio, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Our Sunday Visitor (OSV), The Vigil Project / Papercastle Records, Biking for Babies, Catholic Medical Association, FrancisCorps, Action, My Saint My Hero, The Catholic University of America, The Culture Project, The John Paul II Project, VidAngel – The Chosen and Visually Linked Bible.
SEEK21 photos and videos from around the world are on the FOCUS social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Registration is open for SEEK22 in Salt Lake City, Utah, Dec. 20 – Jan. 3, 2022: seek.focus.org/seek22.
FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) a Catholic apostolate whose mission is to share the hope and joy of the Gospel. FOCUS missionaries encounter people in friendship, inviting them into a personal relationship with Christ and accompanying them as they pursue lives of virtue and excellence. Through Bible studies, outreach events, mission trips and discipleship, missionaries inspire and build up others in the faith, sending them out to live out lifelong Catholic mission wherever they are. For the 2020 – 2021 academic year, nearly 800 FOCUS missionaries are serving on 171 campuses and nine parishes across the U.S. and Europe. By 2026, FOCUS expects to have nearly 1,300 missionaries serving on more than 250 campuses and dozens of parishes. FOCUS alumni, now nearly 40,000 strong, are living and serving in parishes and communities across the country. By 2026, FOCUS expects to have more than 70,000 alumni. An important blessing of a fruitful partnership between the local campus ministry and FOCUS has been the pursuit of religious vocations. Since 1998, 959 people have entered the seminary or a religious house of formation after involvement with FOCUS on college campuses, and FOCUS expects that number to double to nearly 1,900 in the next five years. 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. focus.org