The world hungers for the gift of faith and needs us to show the way
to Christ, Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski told about 17,000 people
gathered in the Dome at America’s Center for the opening Mass of the
SEEK 2023 conference on Jan. 2.
“Each one of us is here this
evening and for this SEEK conference because we have been called to
participate in salvation history; like John the Baptist, we are to point
the way to Christ,” Archbishop Rozanski said during his homily. “Our
baptism into His Church has clothed us with the call to be His witnesses
in our world. By our very lives, we are to proclaim what Jesus has done
for us and to share that Good News with all whom we meet.”
The SEEK 2023 conference,
put on by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS),
gathers college students and adults from across the country — and beyond
— for talks, prayer and fellowship aimed at equipping them with the
tools to become effective witnesses to the Gospel. College students make
up about half of the 17,000 registered this year; the other half
includes parishioners, ministry leaders, priests, seminarians and
religious sisters and brothers.
“May our time together this week
strengthen us in our love for Christ, His Church and the desire in our
hearts to share this Good News with a waiting and expectant world,”
Archbishop Rozanski said.
Before Mass, FOCUS national chaplain
Father Kevin Dyer, SJ, welcomed the crowd, noting that attendees this
year came from places as far as Germany, Ireland, Austria and Mexico.
Father Dyer grew up in St. Paul Parish in St. Paul and graduated from
St. Dominic High School in O’Fallon.
“The faith was handed on to me here, and I hope in some way that the faith can be handed on to you in our fair city,” he said.
of the great moments for the Church in St. Louis was when St. John Paul
II visited our city in 1999. He said Mass in this Dome,” he continued.
“… St. John Paul II is the patron of SEEK 2023, and he is interceding
for us all in heaven today.”
SEEK 2023 is the first in-person SEEK
conference since 2019, when it was held in Indianapolis. The conference
was held virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic; in 2022, many college
campuses and parishes hosted satellite events.
groups and individuals from the Archdiocese of St. Louis are
participating this year, including college student groups from
Lindenwood University, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Maryville
University and Washington University in St. Louis. About 450 adult
parishioners from the archdiocese are participating in the Making
Missionary Disciples track, which explores practical ways to evangelize
in the home, parishes and the greater community.
Hosting the SEEK Conference in the Archdiocese of St. Louis is “a real privilege,” said Archbishop Rozanski.
the SEEK Conference does is show our young people, and indeed all of
us, that there is real strength in living out our faith and coming
together as a people who are dedicated to the Lord Jesus, who want to
live a Gospel life,” he said. “In doing so, we encourage one another,
and we help one another to spread that life to others.”
Learning to share our stories as a witness to the Gospel is important for Catholics of all ages and backgrounds, he said.
one of us has our own story of faith, and the way in which our faith
changes and transforms our lives. So any age really can tell that story
of faith,” he said. “So I’m hoping that our being here at the SEEK
conference will help our people to share the story of faith with others.
And when we share our story of faith, we inspire others, and we invite
them into our faith. And that’s what SEEK truly tries to do.”
conference days include Mass, a variety of morning and afternoon session
options for each track with topics and workshops from FOCUS leaders and
national speakers, and evening keynote talks for all in attendance.
Wednesday evening will include evening eucharistic adoration, and there
is also time for the sacrament of reconciliation each day.
Speakers Paul J. Kim and Chika Anyanwu delivered the Monday evening keynotes after the opening Mass.
off the SEEK conference name, Kim noted that “we’re all seeking
something. The question is, what are you seeking, and have you found
We often think we are seeking good things in the pleasures of this world, Kim said, but those ultimately will not fulfill us.
this love and this truth that we’ve all been seeking has a name — His
name is Jesus Christ. And it just so happens that He’s been seeking you
first,” he said.
The most important message to share is simply that God truly loves each person, Anyanwu said.
you hear one thing … it is simply that there is a God and He is wildly,
madly, passionately and jealously in love with you,” she said.
St. John Paul II at the Dome
FOCUS chose St.
John Paul II as the patron saint of SEEK 2023. And when Archbishop
Rozanski celebrated the conference’s opening Mass on Jan. 2 in the Dome
at America’s Center, he stood in the same place St. John Paul II
celebrated Mass 24 years earlier.
During his papal visit to St. Louis in January 1999,
St. John Paul II celebrated Mass with more than 100,000 people at what
was then known as the Trans World Dome. The Jan. 26-27 visit also
included a youth rally at the Kiel Center and a vespers prayer service
at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.
Father Chris Martin,
vicar for strategic planning for the archdiocese, served as a candle
bearer during the papal Mass at the Dome. He had recently entered the
seminary at a college sophomore, and he was one of the lucky seminarians
whose name was drawn out of a hat to serve the Mass.
Paul II, he really just had this charismatic aura about him, that where
he went, there was this energy,” Father Martin said. “And he was really
an inspiration to pursue the faith, to love Jesus and to strive for
greatness. You saw the courage and faithfulness of him, and it just
inspired you in your own life to say, ‘I want to try to become a saint
St. John Paul II’s ongoing message of “Do not be afraid
— open wide the doors to Christ!” has remained with Father Martin
throughout his priesthood. And Father Martin has seen the lasting
effects of St. John Paul II’s visit around the archdiocese, he said.
seeds of faith that are planted in different events and milestones in
our life continue to bear fruit today,” he said. “A lot of people that
were young people at that youth rally and Mass are now archdiocesan
employees, priests, religious sisters or have families that they’re
bringing here. It was a graced moment that continues to bear good
Free evening at SEEK Jan. 4
On the evening of
Wednesday, Jan. 4, all are invited to join SEEK for keynote talks by
Sister Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, and Father Josh Johnson, followed by
adoration and prayer time. There is no cost to attend, but reservations
must be made in advance. For more information, visit stlreview.com/3DO9LeX
archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Discipleship will also host a
reception for participants from the archdiocese at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday,
before the evening keynotes and adoration. All are invited to connect
with other parishioners to dream about the Church that God is calling us
to build in the archdiocese. The reception is also free, but you must
reserve your spot. For more information, visit
and day passes for the SEEK Conference are still available throughout
the week. For more information about the SEEK conference, including
archdiocesan price discounts, visit archstl.org/seek.