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, 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 and 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.”