Ten people from the Diocese of Meath attended the bi-annual SEEK Conference in Indianapolis, USA from January 3rd – 7th. The conference, organised by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), was attended by 18,000 participants with thousands more watching via live stream. College students from America as well as Ireland, England and Austria attended SEEK 2019.
FOCUS is an outreach that helps college and university students to deepen their relationship with Jesus and the Catholic faith. It aims to inspire and equip students for a lifetime of Christ-centred evangelization, discipleship and friendships in which theylead others to do the same. FOCUS missionaries invite students and parishioners into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and accompany them as they pursue lives of virtue and excellence.
The group of young people included individuals from Ratoath, Kentstown, Dunshaughlin and Drogheda. Fr Kevin Heery (St Mary’s, Navan) also attended SEEK and took part in the life-long mission track. Fifty people from Ireland attended which included twenty-eight from UCD in south Dublin where FOCUS has a team of missionaries for the past year and a half.
Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan of Waterford and Lismore was also a part of the group with an interest to see how FOCUS’ model could be applied here in Ireland. “It has been an incredible experience,” said Ivan Mather, a third-year UCD Business and Law student from Ratoath in County Meath. “Everything about the conference whether it be truly beautiful liturgies, time in adoration, the various talks to the time in
fellowship with others prepares us to bring the Gospel to our generation who so desperately needs to hear it. Less than 60% of college students would even nominally label themselves as Catholic. Less than 40% are confident that God exists. Even at Christmas just gone, the percentage Mass attendance amongst this age group in a parish such as my own would be generously described as 10% – likely less than that.”
“It’s exciting to be a part of a revival. I’ve seen it on a major scale at SEEK but even in my own life, in that of my friends, my family, in our home parish where we have a thriving youth group that has kept growing over the past year and indeed in UCD where our Catholic student group, the Newman Society has experienced exponential growth this year. There are many growing Catholic communities scattered in various places. We are eager to deepen our faith and to share it in a positive and fresh way with our peers.”
Celebrating its 20th year as an apostolate, with over 700 full-time missionaries serving on 153 campuses, FOCUS has seen more than 700 alumni pursue religious vocations and today 7,000 student leaders are heavily engaged in one-on-one discipleship. They will host their leadership summit, SLS, in Phoenix, Arizona from December 30th to January 3rd, 2020 where students, recent graduates, educators, parish leaders, clergy and religious are all welcome to become inspired and equipped for the New Evangelisation.