DENVER, Feb. 7, 2022 — SEEK22: Seek and you will find, hosted by FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), brought together more than 22,000 people from 20 countries to encounter Christ during the hybrid, immersive broadcast Feb. 4-6, 2022. Clergy, parishioners, college students and benefactors explored the Gospel and the call to missionary discipleship in local and regional gatherings.
Regional campus events foster encounters with Christ
Nearly 12,000 students participated in campus gatherings, including larger regional events in Dallas, Texas, and Knoxville, Tennessee, which each had more than 1,000 participants. At the SEEK22 event in Dallas, Bishop Edward J. Burns and Aux. Bishop Greg Kelly from the Diocese of Dallas celebrated Mass for students from 14 campuses.
Nearly 700 people experienced the SEEK22 event in Orange County, including students from 13 campuses and 21 priests from across California. Four bishops participated: Bishop Kevin W. Vann and Aux. Bishop Timothy E. Freyer of Orange County, and Aux. Bishop Marc V. Trudeau and Aux. Bishop Alejandro “Alex” D. Aclan of Los Angeles. Since it was a local conference, one young man was able to bring his mother to the closing Mass on Sunday. Moved by the grace of God, afterward she went to confession for the first time in 39 years.
Eddie Valdez, FOCUS missionary at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), reflected, “SEEK22 in SoCal encouraged students to share the Gospel and strive to be saints. The Holy Spirit worked throughout the weekend to open hearts, minds and souls to the beauty and truth of the Church. We can’t wait to see how SEEK22 inspires all who attended to bring Christ to others on campus and beyond.”
Speakers challenged and inspired missionary zeal
Evangelization experts guided attendees through the crucial message of the Gospel, inviting them to encounter the person of Jesus Christ and live in relationship with Him. Keynote speakers included Msgr. James Shea, Fr. Josh Johnson, Fr. Mike Schmitz, Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, Sr. Bethany Madonna, S.V., Tina Augustine, Hilary Draftz, Jason Evert, Curtis Martin and Dr. Edward Sri.
In the final SEEK22 keynote talk, Fr. Mike Schmitz, chaplain at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and host of The Bible in a Year podcast, urged participants to “not let what Jesus did go to waste on you … Jesus didn’t just come to help people, He came to save lives. As Christians, that’s our call: to save lives.” Acknowledging that sharing the Gospel isn’t easy, Fr. Mike emphasized, “People are worth saving. If you’re a Christian, it’s not an option. If you’re a Christian, that’s your job. Do not let what Jesus did stop with you.”
SEEK22 featured more than 20 impact speakers, including Fr. Agustino Torres, C.F.R., Sr. Mary Grace, S.V., Ryan Anderson, Chika Anyanwu, Matt Fradd, Paul J. Kim, Damon Owens, Mari Pablo, Dr. Jonathan Reyes, Lila Rose and Emily Wilson.
Spanish-language SEEK22 offerings
SEEK22 featured several Spanish-language talks, including ones from Fr. Rafael Capó, Priscilla Garza, Evan Lemoine and Jeff Runyan. A SEEK22 gathering in Monterrey, Mexico, welcomed Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera López, the president of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference. The SEEK22 event in Bogotá, Columbia, included Aux. Bishop Luis Manuel Alí Herrera.
Parishes use SEEK22 to build community, launch small groups
SEEK22 wasn’t just for college students. Dioceses throughout the country are utilizing the event to build community and help launch small groups. Participants from more than 1,600 parishes signed up for SEEK22. The diocese with the most groups participating was the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, with 15 small groups registered. Our Lady of the Valley in Windsor, Colorado, had one of the most participants for a single parish, welcoming 280 people over the weekend.
“SEEK22 gave our parish the opportunity to come together for fellowship, prayer, and to have open honest conversations about where we are as a parish and how we can move forward in apostolic mission,” said Fr. Brian Lager, a FOCUS alumnus and pastor at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Colby, Kansas. “Through the talks and small group discussions throughout the weekend, the parishioners felt empowered to take on the missionary habits of growing deeper in their relationship with God, to begin forming intentional friendships for the glory of God and the good of the Church."
A number of parishes are choosing to host SEEK events later this month. Registration is still available on the SEEK22 At Your Parish web page for parishes that desire to bring SEEK into their community.
25+ bishops participate in SEEK22
The sacraments are always an integral part of SEEK. Including the bishops previously mentioned, more than 25 bishops participated in regional events: Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila (Denver, Colo.), Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, (Hartford, Conn.), Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, (Archdiocese of the Military Services U.S.A.), Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann (Kansas City, Kan.), Archbishop Nelson J. Perez (Philadelphia, Pa.), Archbishop Charles C. Thompson (Indianapolis, Ind.), Bishop John O. Barres (Rockville Centre, Ill.), Bishop Robert P. Deeley (Portland, Maine), Bishop John T. Folda (Fargo, N.D.), Bishop James R. Golka (Colorado Springs, Colo.), David D. Kagan (Bismarck, N.D.), Bishop Carl A. Kemme (Wichita, Kan.), Bishop D. Stephen F. Parks (Savannah, Ga.), Bishop Edward P. Rice (Springfield Cape-Girardeau, Mo.), Bishop David L. Ricken (Green Bay, Wisc.), Bishop Richard F. Stika (Knoxville, Tenn.), Bishop Gerald L. Vincke (Salina, Kan.), Bishop David J. Walkowiak (Grand Rapids), Aux. Bishop William J. Waltersheid (Pittsburgh, Pa.), and Bishop David A. Zubik (Pittsburgh, Pa.).
2022 St. Francis Xavier Honor
During SEEK22, FOCUS presented the 2022 St. Francis Xavier Honor to Drew and Emily Hines, given in recognition and appreciation of a FOCUS alumnus who has modeled missionary discipleship in their life beyond campus. Drew and Emily served as missionaries for three years. After leaving staff, they moved to Nebraska where they continue to invest deeply in their workplace, parish and families. They live mission through a spirit of personal invitation and sanctification of their ordinary life in their vocation. In addition to leading other small groups, the Hineses are starting a chapter of Missionaries of the Holy Spirit in the Family in Omaha.
Lenten Bible Study will keep event momentum going
As Martin mentioned during SEEK22, “FOCUS is not a spectator sport; it needs audience participation.” Last year, SEEK21 launched more regular Bible study participants into discipleship than any previous conference. Small groups that gathered during SEEK22 will keep the momentum going through an eight-week FOCUS Lenten Bible Study hosted by Martin and Sri, 8-8:45 p.m. on Monday evenings Feb. 21-April 11. Anyone can sign up at focusequip.org/lentenstudy2022.
Podcasts and Sponsors
The SEEK22 Podcast featured 16 inspirational podcasts, including Konza Catholic with the chaplains from Kansas State University and Wichita State University. Additional podcasters involved with SEEK22 included All Things Catholic, Amar y Ser Amados, Ask Father Josh, Fr. Mike Schmitz Podcast, Godsplaining, Poco A Poco Podcast and The Liturgy Guys.
SEEK22 Premier Level Sponsors who were “Sponsors of the Day” included Hallow, Relevant Radio and the University of Mary. Additional Premier Levels Sponsors were: A Simple House of Sts. Francis and Alphonsus, Ablaze Ministries, Adore Ministries, Alliance Defending Freedom, American Philanthropic, Ascension, Association of Marian Helpers, Augustine Institute, Ave Maria Press, Camp Wojtyla, Catholic Medical Association, Christ in the City, Divine Mercy University, Dominican Province of St. Martin de Porres (Southern), Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, Exodus 90, Felician Sisters of North America, FrancisCorps, Heroic Men, Metanoia Catholic, Seton Teaching Fellows, Sock Religious, The Arena, The GIVEN Institute, The Guiding Star Project and Vagabond Missions.
SEEK23: Answer the Call in St. Louis
Registration is open for SEEK23: Answer the Call, which will be held in St. Louis, Missouri, Jan. 2 – Jan. 6, 2023: seek.focus.org/seek23. 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 inspiring increased zeal for evangelization.
FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) is 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 2021 – 2022 academic year, nearly 800 FOCUS missionaries are serving at 205 locations, which includes 22 parish venues across the U.S. and seven international campuses. 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, more than 1,000 people have entered the seminary or a religious house of formation after involvement with FOCUS on college campuses. FOCUS expects to nearly double that number 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