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The Eucharist was processed around The Dome at America's Center during SEEK24 on Jan. 3 in St. Louis. The third night of the conference drew more than 24,000 people to the Dome, including about 5,000 additional people from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, who attended the keynote talks and eucharistic adoration.
The Eucharist was processed around The Dome at America's Center during SEEK24 on Jan. 3 in St. Louis. The third night of the conference drew more than 24,000 people to the Dome, including about 5,000 additional people from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, who attended the keynote talks and eucharistic adoration.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand

SEEK24 keynote speakers share God’s gift of infinite mercy through theme of reconciliation

In addition to more than 19,000 attendees, about 5,000 people from the Archdiocese of St. Louis attend Jan. 3 keynote talks, adoration

All of us are going to face crosses in our lives.

It’s how we receive them that matters, said Edward Sri during an evening keynote talk Jan. 3 at the SEEK24 conference at the Dome at the America’s Center.

“The message of the cross reminds us that while there’s always going to be suffering in this world … we are all going to face the cross,” said Sri, a theologian, author and senior vice president of formation at FOCUS. “The question is, will we allow those crosses to change us, transform us in the way God wants us to? At every cross there is a spiritual gem that God wants to give us to help us to grow and be transformed.”

Selena Perez, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, took part in adoration at SEEK24 on Jan. 3 at America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand
The third night of the conference drew more than 24,000 people to the Dome, including about 5,000 additional people from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, who attended the keynote talks and eucharistic adoration. Prior to the keynotes, 1,500 people from the archdiocese gathered for fellowship at a reception hosted by the Office of Evangelization and Discipleship.

The SEEK24 conference, held Jan. 1-5 and hosted by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), includes college students and adults from across the country and internationally for talks, prayer and fellowship to equip them with the tools to become effective witnesses to the Gospel. The conference also was held in St. Louis last year.

Focusing on a theme of reconciliation and God’s great mercy, Sri noted that Catholics often misunderstand the cross. “By entering into depths of our humanity, into the depths of our suffering, even entering into the depths of death itself, Jesus was able to offer Himself as a gift of love on our behalf to free us,” he said.

God performs an infinite act of love in becoming man. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that it’s that love that gives the cross its redemptive value, Sri said.

St. Paul in Romans 8:28 said that “in all things, God works for good in those who love Him,” Sri emphasized. No matter what’s happening now, or our fears of what might happen in the future, he encouraged conference attendees not to waste those crosses in our lives.

“Whatever cross you’re facing in life, whatever burden you’re maybe carrying into this conference this week, don’t ever waste those crosses,” he said. “Know there is a spiritual gem waiting for you, and and in all things God can use it for good.”

Matthew Eslabon, a FOCUS Missionary at East Carolina University, knelt during adoration at SEEK24 on Jan. 3 at America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand
Father Mike Schmitz, director of youth and young adult ministry in the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota, and the host of the popular “Bible in a Year” podcast, continued on the theme of reconciliation theme by reflecting on the story of the Prodigal Son.

Like the father in the parable, God will not limit the number of steps He will take to reach our hearts, he said. We only have to take one step toward God in reconciliation. “Mercy is the greatest form of love … the biggest way that God can love us,” he said. “Mercy is the love that we need the most but deserve the least. But I also know my Father’s heart. I know that He says, ‘I want you to be healed.’”

The good news is that while every one of us have sinned and fallen short, God still wants us, Father Schmitz said. Mercy is the greatest form of love that God can give us. “Mercy is the love that we need the most but we deserve the least,” he said.

“God has gone as far as He can,” he said. “One step remains: your step. Your yes. When we get to the gates of heaven and (we’re asked) why should we let you in, the only answer is because Jesus has died for me … so now I live for Him. That’s the answer.”

A replay of content from SEEK24, including keynotes, concurrent sessions, impact sessions and other talks will be available at seekreplay.com.

The Eucharist was processed around The Dome at America's Center during SEEK24 on Jan. 3. The Jan. 3 evening session featured adoration and was open to Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. Louis who were not attending the rest of the conference.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand

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