If you look at the data on young people’s relationship with religion, it’s easy to get discouraged. About 80% of Millennials who were raised Catholic have left the Church, and a survey shows that the percentage of Gen Z that identifies as atheist is double that of the U.S. adult population.
But is it all doom and gloom? No. There are certainly beacons of hope in our young Church, perhaps none more so than the SEEK Conference put on by FOCUS (The Fellowship of Catholic University Students). This year’s conference was held January 3-7 in Indianapolis, and more than 17,000 people gave up a chunk of their winter break to spend time encountering Our Lord.
If the headlines tell of declining interest in religion among young people, it was not evident at SEEK2019. The total number of SEEK2019 registrants represents a 35 percent increase over the nearly 13,000 attendees who attended SEEK2017, the last SEEK event held two years ago.
During the conference, participants were able to hear from world-renowned Catholic speakers such as Sr. Bethany Madonna, S.V., Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, Fr. Mike Schmitz, Leah Darrow, Jason Evert, Jennifer Fulwiler, Dr. Scott Hahn, Curtis Martin, Dr. Edward Sri and Chris Stefanick.
Participants were also offered the opportunity to encounter Our Lord in the sacraments. Priests heard more than 6,500 confessions during the five-day event, with 4,700 of those heard in just two hours during Adoration and Confession Night on Saturday evening.
Jessica Angeles, a student attending the University of Southern California, grew up Catholic but had felt herself growing distant from the Church and God in the past few years. She said adoration was a revelation for her.
Angeles told FOCUS, “The moment I saw the Eucharist, I felt pure joy and peace that I have never felt before. I realized how strong the presence of God was as He lifted the burdens in my heart, which I hadn’t shared with Him. I decided to trust in the Lord with my joy and pain and to walk with Him as I face the challenges of life.”
For those who attended SEEK2019 and are looking to hear more from their favorite keynote speakers, or for those who were unable to attend but are looking to deepen their faith, Relevant Radio has a gift for you.
In partnership with FOCUS, Relevant Radio is offering the Premier Podcast, featuring interviews with SEEK2019 speakers such as Fr. Donald Calloway, Leah Darrow, Jason Evert, Dr. Scott Hahn, and Chris Stefanick. Each podcast episode focuses on a different topic that is relevant to the lives of Catholics, from faith and vocation to beauty and happiness.
Check out the Premier podcast, or share it with a young person in your life! And be sure to check back on Monday for some bonus content from Fr. Mike Schmitz, Jennifer Fulwiler, Paul J. Kim and Dr. Edward Sri!