SEEK Conference serves as spiritual spark plug for local college students

by Jacqueline Burkepile

North Texas Catholic

Two young women are seen in prayerful reflection during the SEEK2017 Conference in San Antonio, which took place from Jan. 3-7. (Photo courtesy FOCUS)

DENTON — Jesus said in Luke 11: 9-10, “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

More than 100 college students from the Diocese of Fort Worth knocked on the door of God’s heart and ignited their souls with the Holy Spirit’s flame during the Fellowship of Catholic University Students’ SEEK2017 conference from Jan. 3-7 in San Antonio. These students joined almost 10,000 young adults from 500 college campuses across the country.

The biennial conference’s theme, “What Moves You,” encouraged students to understand God’s sacrificial love, and invited them into a true and whole relationship with Him. The five-day event offered daily Mass, perpetual Adoration, reconciliation, and presentations from nationally and internationally-renowned Catholic speakers, such as author and theologian Scott Hahn, radio host Jennifer Fulwiler, Archbishop Charles Chaput, and college football legend Lou Holtz.

Numerous college campus ministries in north Texas represented the Diocese of Fort Worth, including Tarleton State University in Stephenville, the University of Texas at Arlington, Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, and Texas Woman’s University and the University of North Texas in Denton. Recently, students, campus ministers, and chaplains from several of these universities spoke to the NTC about how SEEK2017 impacted their lives and ministries.

A Look at the Church of Tomorrow

Jeff Hedglen, campus minister at UTA and diocesan director of Young Adult and Campus Ministry, said he and eight students from UTA attended the conference.

For him it was an exciting and powerful witness to see so many Catholic students in one place, which gave him “comfort of what it means for the Church of tomorrow.” He added that his students enjoyed the liturgy, worship opportunities, and speakers at SEEK. As a result of the conference, he said one student started a Bible study, while others planned to foster new friendships “with hopes to invite them to [University Catholic Community] events.” He hopes to build on these aspects within the UTA ministry.

A priest leads thousands of young Catholics in Adoration at SEEK2017. (Photo courtesy FOCUS)

“I just want the students to follow Jesus more deeply and share his love as God calls them to,” Hedglen said, adding that the students “experienced a lot of personal growth.”

UTA student Lynda Dijeh attended SEEK with the UTA campus ministry. Her favorite aspect of SEEK2017 was perpetual Adoration. Seeing many Catholics who are passionate about their faith inspired her.

“One of the key lessons that I took from SEEK was this phrase ‘Do whatever He tells you,’” Dijeh said. “Doing the right thing seems so simple, yet it is something that I and many other people struggle with every day. I realized that if I ask God for guidance in everything…I can do the right thing every time.”

Father James Wilcox, chaplain of Texas Christian University’s Catholic Campus Ministry, also enjoyed the time he spent at SEEK with 18 of his students. He added that the conference allows students to see thousands of young people on fire for the faith, which can “help them to consider the next steps they need to take on their journey with Jesus Christ.”

“These students are ready to help the next group of students become better disciples,” said Fr. Wilcox, who is also the Vocations Director for the Diocese of Fort Worth. “Their excitement is infectious on campus, and other students see the Lord’s work through them.”

More than 300 priests served at SEEK2017, celebrating Mass, leading Adoration, and hearing more than 6,000 confessions. (Photo courtesy FOCUS)

Jack Schroeter, a TCU sophomore, said he attended SEEK to “explore his faith more deeply.”

He explained that he is now spending more time studying Scripture and spiritual reading as a result of attending the conference.

“SEEK [gave me] a deeper understanding of sainthood, and how we are called to strive for it,” Schroeter said. “It affected how I treat people, myself, and my relationship with Christ.”

St. John Paul II Church and Campus Ministry in Denton also took students to SEEK2017. As the only campus ministry with FOCUS missionaries assigned to its universities, more than 80 students from the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University attended.

Father Kyle Walterscheid, pastor at St. John Paul II, attended with his students, campus ministers, and four FOCUS missionaries. He said he already sees the impact the conference is making in the campus ministry community. Many of the attendees returned with the conviction that “they need to cling more so to their faith,” and with “their hearts set on fire with the power of the Holy Spirit,” Fr. Walterscheid said.

More than 13,000 young adult Catholics descended on San Antonio for SEEK2017. (Photo courtesy FOCUS)

Kara Christopherson, a UNT sophomore, explained that she is more dedicated to her journey towards sainthood after attending SEEK2017.

“It is a strong commitment, but I will strive to follow Christ in all that I do until the day I die,” Christopherson said. “SEEK solidified my thoughts of being an everyday saint and turned them into reality.”

FOCUS Missionary Kaitlyn Schulte, the FOCUS team leader for UNT and TWU, said she saw “students encounter Jesus in a deeper way than ever before” at SEEK.

“After Adoration and confession, I saw freedom radiating from students’ faces,” Schulte said. “They received the Lord’s mercy through confession, and it was visible and so contagious!”

Schulte added that through the work of FOCUS and events like SEEK, they “are investing in the future parishioners of the Diocese of Fort Worth.”

“I see so many students come to know and encounter Christ and their desire to share the truth they find with their peers,” Schulte said. “Our hope is that we will build them up while they are in college and prepare them to be sent into mission after they graduate.”


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DENTON — Jesus said in Luke 11: 9-10, “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”