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The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


Finding God at the FOCUS SEEK Conference

Statia Brown
Campus Ministry takes on SEEK conference.

January 19, 2023/12a

To ring in the 2024 New Year, twenty individuals from Gannon University, including students and campus ministers, traveled to St. Louis, Missouri for a conference sponsored by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS).

Each year, FOCUS hosts a conference entitled SEEK (cf. John 1:38) where thousands of college students, priests, and religious women and men gather for a five-day convention featuring Catholic speakers Fr. Mike Schmitz, Dr. Edward Sri, Sr. Mary Grace, S.V., Msgr. James Shea, and many others. At SEEK, each day begins with a Catholic Mass celebrated by a bishop or Cardinal and ends with two keynote addresses.

These events and other bigger talks are held inside the Dome, the former home of the St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams. During each day, students attend different breakout sessions pertaining to relevant aspects of college life, discipleship, prayer, and other topics. At the conclusion of these sessions, the entire group from Gannon would meet up for dinner each evening and explore different restaurants throughout downtown St. Louis.

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 Freshman Philosophy major Tyler Niebauer credits SEEK for allowing his “faith [to] grow [by] meeting people of different backgrounds and different cultures [because] the one thing that brought us together was our faith.”

The climax of the event was a two-hour Eucharistic adoration service on Wednesday evening where parishioners from around the Archdiocese of St. Louis joined the twenty thousand SEEK attendees to amass 24,000 individuals adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. At SEEK, there was representation from hundreds of college campuses around the country and even some international universities, including the University of Austria.

Former Gannon University Campus Minister Sister Carmen Haemmerle, FSO was among those present from the University of Austria. Throughout the week, she reconnected with the students and Campus Ministers who were at Gannon during her tenure in Erie. Among them was Legal Studies and History major Daniel Grabowski, who “was blessed to be able to spend time with Sister Carmen Haemmerle at SEEK24.” According to Grabowski, Haemmerle “was essential in my conversion to becoming a Christian and without her I would never have been pointed in the direction of Jesus.”

Grabowski uniquely attended SEEK23 as a non-Christian last January, and less than twelve months later attended SEEK24 as a fully initiated Catholic Christian. Grabowski “loved getting to go to Mass with 20,000 people each day to see Jesus in the Eucharist. Seeing all these people there and being able to worship with them all really made every Mass experience powerful. It showed the Catholic faith is alive in the country and around the world despite the secularization of today’s society.”

In addition to prayer experiences, Liturgies, sight-seeing, and a variety of talks, those in attendance could also browse through “Mission Way,” a combination of convention center halls lined with various vendors, booths, and fun activities.

While there, attendees could shop, visit with various vocational discernment and missionary booths, meet the speakers, and participate in sports like Spike ball and pickleball. Gannon has now taken a group of students to St. Louis for two consecutive SEEK conferences, and those considering attending future SEEKs in other hosting cities should reach out to the Gannon University Campus Ministry department. In reflecting on SEEK, Niebauer stated: “I highly recommend attending it if you have the chance!”

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