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SEEK participants ‘cannot wait’ to see God’s work in their lives post-conference

Three members of the group that traveled to SEEK 2019 from Murray State University’s Newman House (left to right) Alex Kaufmann, Eli Oltean and Chris Stahl. COURTESY OF MURRAY STATE UNIVERSITY NEWMAN HOUSE


A “greater appreciation of the Eucharist” is what Hunter LeBlanc took away from the Jan. 3-7, 2019 SEEK conference in Indianapolis, hosted by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS).

SEEK brought together approximately 17,000 college and university students and other young adults from around the U.S. and several international locations for an extended weekend of fellowship, prayer, talks, and the celebration of the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation. This year’s theme was SEEK 2019: Encounter Something More.

An estimated 400 priests, including several bishops, attended and assisted with hearing the more than 6,500 confessions.

Two groups attended from the region of the Diocese of Owensboro, with approximately 65 people traveling from the Newman House at Murray State University, and approximately 90 from the Newman Center at Western Kentucky University

LeBlanc, a freshman at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, said he was moved by the experience of attending Mass and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in such a massive crowd – “looking behind you and seeing the sea of people all around you.”

(Left to right) Kayla Austin, Katelyn Noll and Marti Frank – all who traveled to SEEK 2019 with a group from Western Kentucky University’s Newman Center – pose with cardboard cutouts of Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis. COURTESY OF KATELYN NOLL

LeBlanc told The Western Kentucky Catholic this was his first time attending SEEK. He said that after SEEK, it is “definitely on my heart” to take a more active role in evangelizing “on my campus.”

“I feel that SEEK has inspired me to want to reach out to people outside the Church,” he said.

WKU sophomore Emma Cox posted on Facebook after SEEK: “Where are you going? What are you looking for? I found it this week. I am truly privileged to have gotten to know all of these people better. I have gotten to know and see Christ in them, and Christ work in their lives. God is SO good, and is working in every life, and I cannot wait to see Him work in my life and allow me to have Him work through me. It’s all yours Lord. Thy will be done. Amen.”

Among the participants who traveled with the Murray group was former MSU student Eli Oltean, who is not of the Catholic faith tradition.

“The Word of God comes alive with every talk and every person you encounter… and especially, not being Catholic, it changes your life in ways that you never expect,” said Oltean.

One of Murray’s Newman House participants, Jessica Barnes, was honored at SEEK by having her artwork displayed as part of a FOCUS initiative called “Awaken: To the Mystery of Christ.” The initiative showed how to use art as a form to engage an encounter with God.

Barnes is not a college student but is an active member of Murray’s Newman House, which is part of the organization’s goals of welcoming anyone who desires an encounter with God, whether or not the person attends MSU, is a student or recent graduate, or even Catholic.

Reilly Cordell, a junior at WKU, posted on Facebook about the experience, summarizing SEEK as “amazing.”

“My relationship with the Lord was definitely strengthened at this conference!” Cordell wrote.

Fr. Eugene Batungbacal, CSsR, the director of Murray State University’s Newman House, and Kara Bekebrede, director of WKU’s FOCUS team, contributed to this report.

Originally printed in the February 2019 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic

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