From January 2-6, 2023, a strange phenomenon occurred in downtown St. Louis: a massive infiltration of nearly 20,000 foreign invaders descended upon the airport, trains, buses, hotels, and every coffee shop and diner that catered to a college student’s budget. Interestingly enough, these invaders did not come to spy and steal, but rather to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the inner city through their joyful witness of peace and love.
These impressive college students belong to an organization called FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), which ministers to them on campus year-round, and organizes an annual national conference called SEEK. For several days, the students prayed, worshipped, attended talks, networked with other students and Catholic organizations, encountered clergy and religious, and yes of course they danced and played too.
Every year, a small contingent of Little Sisters from around the country travel to SEEK in order to engage these young people and introduce them to our charism, along with countless other religious communities. It’s a time of intense fellowship, wherein all receive the power and encouragement they need to go out and rock the world with their dynamic witness of the Gospel.
From these conferences, young women often take up our invitation to do live-in service in one of our Homes during their spring, summer, or fall breaks. We call this program “Spring Into Service” and it is a powerful means for faithful young women to immerse themselves in a Christian apostolate, with the support of the Sisters.
I don’t know about you, but the oft-repeated reaction of adults to SEEK, “this gives me so much hope for the future of the Church,” doesn’t resonate with me at all.
When I see this massive crowd of devoted missionary disciples, year after year, my heart is warmed because this isn’t the future of the Church- it already is the Church here and now. May all of these young people continually grow in knowledge, wisdom, and grace, and may they always bring Jesus into all their pathways. Amen!!