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10 Talks to look forward to at SEEK21


Focus Seek21

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 01/29/21

The beloved conference is online this year, but with a focus on building local community.

The past year has left Christians feeling isolated as so many of our communal activities aren’t possible due to pandemic restrictions. FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) has an antidote to that isolation: a virtual event that builds in-person community.

FOCUS’s SEEK Conference has been very popular in-person in the past. This year, they’re taking the conference online, while encouraging small-group connections to keep the sense of camaraderie that is a SEEK hallmark.

“We’re bringing thousands of people together for an all-new SEEK experience unlike any we’ve had before,” their website says. “Whether it’s through moderated speaker sessions, small group breakouts, shared mealtimes, and more, SEEK21 is your chance to be accompanied in your faith journey on a more personal level, right where you are. It’s what makes this year’s event extraordinary.”

This first-ever live broadcasted event welcomes attendees to participate in the following elements:

  • “Be accompanied, wherever you are”: Join with other attendees locally as a small group, whether in your living room, campus center, or parish hall. Spend time viewing talks, sharing meals, and diving deep into discussions with each other for a more personal SEEK experience right at home.
  • “Interact in real time”: Connect with the main stage emcees and speakers throughout all four days of SEEK. You can customize your schedule to accommodate you and your small group.
  • “Unite with the Church worldwide”: Celebrate the beauty of our universal Church and adore the Eucharist with others around the globe in our first-ever Worldwide Prayer Vigil.

But if you’re not able to join a small group or watch the event live, no problem! All live sessions can be viewed again later, with continued access to the online platform for six months following SEEK21. Friday, January 29, is the last day for regular registration pricing

Nearly 18,000 people are registered for SEEK21 so far, making it the largest FOCUS conference ever. People of all ages are welcome to join, not just young adults. FOCUS has several hosting resources online for people leading small groups.

All of the SEEK21 speakers are sure to be exceptional, at least if past FOCUS conferences are any indication! It’s hard to pick which talks you “can’t miss.” But if we have to narrow it down, these are the 10 speakers whose messages we are most excited to hear!

1Francis Chan and Curtis Martin

Chan is an evangelical pastor who made waves in Christian circles when a sermon he gave to his Protestant congregation went viral for his views on the Eucharist and Christian unity. Martin founded the Fellowship of Catholic University Students and he will speak with Chan at the close of SEEK21, “to share an illuminating look at the Scriptures and our universal call to missionary discipleship.”

2Bishop Barron

An auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, Barron reaches millions of people by utilizing the tools of new media to draw people into or back to the Catholic Faith.

Word on Fire

3Chika Anyanwu

An international Catholic evangelist and author, Anyanwu’s missionary zeal is inspired by a love of Christ and the Church, the lives of the saints, and a desire to see Christ known and loved all over the world. Her book, My Encounter: How I Met Jesus in Prayer is an inspiring testimonial and devotional for anyone.

4Leah Darrow

A renowned Catholic speaker, author, podcast host and entrepreneur with a Master’s degree in Theology from the Augustine Institute, Darrow founded the LUX Catholic app that builds community and faith formation for women.

Focus Seek21

5Sr. Miriam James Heidland

A former Division I athlete, Heidland had a radical conversion and joined the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity in 1998. She holds a Master’s degree in Theology from the Augustine Institute and speaks regularly on the topics of conversion, authentic love, forgiveness and healing (and sports!). She hosts a popular podcast, “Abiding Together,” and is the author of a faith-filled book, Loved As I Am.

6Damon Owens

Owens, an international speaker and evangelist, founded and serves as Executive Director for Joyful Ever After, a non-profit ministry dedicated to encouraging and educating couples to understand and live marriage and family life together with joy through St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. He keeps a full international speaking schedule at conferences, seminars, universities, high schools, seminaries, and parishes on the good news of marriage, sexuality, Theology of the Body, Theology of the Family, adoption, and NFP.

7Fr. Mike Schmitz

Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Duluth and the chaplain for the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Schmitz offers weekly homilies online, hosts the popular Bible in a Year podcast, and appears in programs for youth and young adults through Ascension Press and in regular short video messages on Ascension Presents. He preaches to youth and young adults across the country about the love of God and the call of Jesus Christ for saints to be raised up in the Church, saints who will redeem the entire world for Christ.

8Sr. Bethany Madonna

Vocation Director for the Sisters of Life, Sr. Bethany Madonna joins in their missions of caring for women who are pregnant and in crisis, accompanying college students, inviting those suffering after abortion to receive healing, and fostering a Culture of Life through evangelization and retreats.

Focus Seek21

9Dr. Jonathan Reyes

Currently the Sr. Vice President of Evangelization and Faith Formation for the Knights of Columbus, Reyes has previously served as the assistant general secretary for Integral Human Development for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the executive director for Justice, Peace, and Human Development. He helped co-found Christ in the City and the Augustine Institute, served as president and CEO of Catholic Charities in Denver, served as vice president for FOCUS and was a professor and the academic vice president for Christendom College.

10Oscar Rivera

Rivera serves as the director of Religious Education and Youth Ministry at his parish in Virginia Beach. Raised in the inner city of Waterbury, Connecticut, his method of avoiding the streets became God and hip-hop. For over a decade, he has been an international speaker and performer. Oscar’s life is devoted to the new evangelization, and his upbeat urban approach has made his message entertaining and easy to understand.

Read more:
An incorrupt heart, 17,000 youth, and the hope of SEEK19

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