The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) SEEK24 conference is underway this week in St. Louis with the attendance of more than 19,000 mostly young people from around the country and the world.
The event, which is taking place at the former NFL stadium attached to the America’s Center Convention complex, aims to galvanize young people to deepen and share their Catholic faith. The conference features an all-star lineup of Catholic speakers — including EWTN News President Montse Alvarado — fellowship opportunities, prayer and worship sessions including Eucharistic adoration and Mass, and high-powered entertainment.
This year’s SEEK conference is bigger than 2023’s by almost every metric, according to organizers. The conference currently has 19,707 paid attendees registered, a 28% increase over last year.
An even greater number of participants is expected on Wednesday evening, when Catholics from the St. Louis area are invited to join conference attendees for a massive session of Eucharistic adoration. Last year, more than 1,800 local St. Louisans joined in adoration and more than 500 priests heard more than 3,000 confessions in two hours. FOCUS spokesperson Kate Milligan said they hope to surpass 24,000 attendees for this year’s adoration session.
Milligan also said that there are 44 bishops attending this year — a doubling of the number who showed up last year — as well as 450 seminarians registered, up from 250 last year. Signups for the “Making Missionary Disciples” track, designed to provide practical leadership training for adult Catholics, are up 81% compared with last year.
“When I look around and I see young people from all over the country and even from outside of the country, I think … the Church is alive, the Church is well, and the Church has witnesses. And that’s what we really need, and that’s what this SEEK conference really brings about in the Church. True witnesses to Jesus Christ,” St. Louis Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski told CNA in an interview.
“When we see 20,000 people on fire for the Lord, it inspires us, too, to be on fire for the Lord,” Rozanski added.
The conference continues all this week, wrapping up with a closing Mass on Friday morning. Anticipation of the upcoming National Eucharistic Congress, taking place in mid-2024, is expected to feature in the proceedings.