Finding God: Experiencing faith through SEEK21

Olivia Heysek

What if there were a God who made every part of you, down to the last detail? What if he loves you so much that he chose to die rather than be without you? What if you chose to seek him, find him, encounter him? What if there’s more to your story?
These are questions that we dove into at the SEEK21 conference.
This is an annual event where thousands gather to deepen their relationship with God.
Instead of all the participants gathering in person this year, the conference was hosted in living rooms, parishes and campuses across the country as a four-day live broadcast event.
We were blessed to be able to host the conference right here at Gannon and had about 30 people in attendance. Following COVID-19 guidelines, we were able to gather to watch keynote speakers, break out into small group discussions, play games, hold Mass and eat some delicious Metz catering.
We were grateful to be gathered in person and even had a student join us via Zoom from quarantine.
I am especially grateful to Sister Carmen, who worked so hard to make this event happen.
SEEK21 is quite a revolutionary experience; never before has there been such a massive Catholic conference focused on the Gospel message itself. There were over 27,000 people in attendance worldwide.
Not only was it a great opportunity to learn more about the Catholic faith and Jesus Christ, but it was a chance for us to gather and grow in friendship.
The patron of the conference was a man named Carlo Acutis.
According to his mother, he showed “a natural predisposition for the sacred” from the age of 3.
He unfortunately passed away in 2006 at the age of 15, but his extraordinary devotion to Jesus led him to become the first member of the millennial generation to be beatified in the Catholic Church.
This conference reminded me how desperately we need community.
We were not designed to be alone, and this pandemic has thrown us into an isolation that has certainly taken a toll on all of us.
The ability to be physically surrounded by people who are walking toward heaven together was a much-needed breath of fresh air.
The lessons I learned throughout the weekend were so moving, and I am eager to share this good news with others.
Most of us were raised with the belief that God loves us, yet we believe that God merely tolerates us. Jesus wants to do so much more than coexist with us. He wants to know us, love us, heal us.
The question is: does God have your permission to truly see you as you are? Does he have your permission to love you as you are? We are all called to be saints.
As Thomas Merton famously stated, “for me, to be a saint means to be myself.”
As we learn more about God, we discover exactly what it means to be ourselves and become who God made us to be.
“To always be close to Jesus, that’s my life plan” -Blessed Carlo Acutis, pray for us.

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