January 18, 2019

Young adults embrace opportunity to deepen faith at SEEK2019

Dominican Father Patrick Hyde, associate pastor of St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington and head of the parish’s campus ministry serving the students of Indiana University (IU), center, enjoys a break on Jan. 5 with IU students Jenna Fisher, Rachel Folstrom and Arianna Dacanay during SEEK2019 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. Also pictured at right is Thomas Leah, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Chicago. (Photo by Mike Krokos)

Dominican Father Patrick Hyde, associate pastor of St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington and head of the parish’s campus ministry serving the students of Indiana University (IU), center, enjoys a break on Jan. 5 with IU students Jenna Fisher, Rachel Folstrom and Arianna Dacanay during SEEK2019 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. Also pictured at right is Thomas Leah, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Chicago. (Photo by Mike Krokos)

By John Shaughnessy

The intriguing invitation came unexpectedly—an invitation that Timi Soyoola realized she couldn’t pass up.

That’s how the 20-year-old native of Nigeria found herself among the more than 17,000 young adults from across the United States and the world who gathered in Indianapolis on Jan. 3-7 for SEEK2019, a five-day conference that offered its mostly Catholic participants the opportunity to deepen their encounter with Jesus Christ.

“I was coming on a flight from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis after visiting my uncle, and a lady was talking to me about this conference,” said Soyoola, a senior majoring in pre-medicine at Indiana University in Kokomo. “It’s a new year, and I wanted to try something new. I wanted to learn more about my faith.”

It didn’t matter to her that she didn’t know anyone else at the conference. After all, Soyoola—whose full first name, “Oluwatimilehin,” basically translates to “God’s got my back,” she noted—already knew she could count on one person.

“Jesus is the person I depend on,” she said, her eyes and her smile lighting up as she mentioned his name. “When you come to a new country, you don’t know anyone. He’s the one I depend on. He’s the most important person in my life.”

Her enthusiasm and desire to draw closer to Christ was resoundingly shared by the participants who packed the Indiana Convention Center where the conference was held under the direction of FOCUS—Fellowship of Catholic University Students—the Denver-based organization that seeks to “share the hope and joy of the Gospel” with college students and other young adults.

Jenna Fisher, a senior at Indiana University in Bloomington, was among the approximately 100 students from her campus that made the journey to the convention center to attend SEEK.

More SEEK 2019 Articles:
 
Encounter with Christ leads woman to offer that gift to other young adults
 
Priests laud benefits of SEEK to students, chaplains and more
 
Lives changed, faith deepened in sacrament of penance at SEEK2019
 
Seminarians inspired by example of faith in SEEK attendees
 
Once a stranger in America, native of India finds his faith home in Indiana
 
Conference inspires ways to bring faith to others
 
Keep bringing Christ to others, Denver archbishop says
 
SEEK2019 donation drive gets attendees ‘more invested in mission’

“Personally, for me, it was important to actively seek to grow my faith, and my relationship with God,” said Fisher, who previously served as a small group leader for St. Paul Catholic Center’s young adults and is now a member of the parish pastoral council.

“I had the best confession I’ve ever had [on Friday night], and my heart is new today,” she added

Arianna Dacanay, another IU senior and member of St. Paul Catholic Center, said she attended SEEK to encounter Christ “first and foremost, [and] to see what he wants from me, what he wants from my heart, how he wants me to lean into him more, but also to guide others to him that I am here with, to walk with him.”

IU junior Rachel Folstrom accepted an invitation from a FOCUS missionary on the Bloomington campus to attend SEEK.

“I took that call and ran with it … to see what ways God could shape my heart again,” she said.

The opportunity to deepen their faith drew Josh and Katie Fatzinger from their home in Flagstaff, Ariz. The young married couple arrived at the conference with their 1-year-old daughter Ellie, with other extended family members, and with Katie scheduled to give birth to their second child in February.

“I’m here with my mother, my wife, one of my sisters and three of my brothers,” said Josh, who is 27. “I’m from a big Catholic family, one of 14. I encouraged my younger brothers to come because it was a great experience for me when I came in 2013. It’s a great place to encounter a lot of people, and we’re all here to encounter Christ.”

That relationship guides his life.

“My faith informs my worldview and how I make all my decisions,” he said as he held Ellie. “I’m hoping to learn more about how to disciple my children.”


Related Video

Story continues below video


Standing by Ellie’s stroller, Katie looked around the crowd at the convention center and noted, “There’s all the hope you see and all the excitement. It’s very uplifting. It’s really powerful to celebrate the sacraments and be with that many people praising God. I’m waiting to see how he can impact their lives.”

Louis Cain had the same hope as he led a group of 60 students from McNeese State University in Louisiana during the conference that featured opportunities for Mass, confession and eucharistic adoration as well as faith-related workshops, inspirational speakers and entertainment by Catholic musicians. In his third year as a FOCUS missionary on a college campus, Cain embraces the opportunity to bring other young adults to a relationship with Christ.

“It’s really cool to have this time in my life when I’m trying to get closer to Jesus and help others to do the same 24-7,” said Cain, whose hometown is Williamsburg, Iowa. “One thing that’s cool about being here is that you realize you’re not alone. Everyone is here to grow in their faith. It’s pretty amazing.”

Cain kept that positive attitude as he answered a question about how he thinks the clergy sexual abuse crisis has had an impact on young adults’ perspectives of the Church and their faith.

“Our Church needs healing,” he said. “In times of crisis in the Church, great saints rise up. We need to have saints rise up in our Church. It should motivate us to live our faith more seriously.”

Cain also shared a message for young adults who have drifted away from the Church and their faith.

“A reason that a lot of young people leave the faith today is that they don’t think it has an impact on their lives. They’re looking for fun, for pleasure. For me, nothing else satisfies me or fulfills me like trying to follow Jesus.”

Amy Gasper has that same feeling—a feeling enhanced by being among more than 17,000 young adults coming together to deepen their faith, giving hope for their Church and for themselves.

“You get to see how hungry people are for the Lord. It makes my heart leap for joy,” said Gasper, 19, a sophomore at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind., one of more than 600 colleges represented at the conference. “There are people here who are wanting to devote their life to God and grow in their relationship with him.”

Gasper counts herself among that group.

“Every day I wake up, I want to grow more in my faith. I know I’m alive for one reason, and that’s to answer God’s call for my life. It’s a never-ending joy. So many people search for that. You have to let God take over your life for the good.”

She tries to help others do the same as she interacts with students on her campus—from people who challenge and denigrate her Catholic faith to those who embrace it as fully as she does.

“Anyone I see on campus who is searching for God’s love, even those who don’t know it, I pray for them. I just try to share Jesus’ light with people. No matter what, I know God is working through me to reach other people. Coming to SEEK makes me want to love them and pray for them even more.”
 

(Editor Mike Krokos contributed to this story.)

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!