Catholic Campus Ministry-Springfield at SEEK 23
COME,AND YOU WILL SEE By Bishop Edward M. Rice
Jan. 06, 2023
I participated in the SEEK23 Conference in St. Louis, MO, for the first time on Jan. 3-6, 2023, and I found it quite rewarding. What is SEEK? It’s an opportunity for university students from throughout the world to come together to pray, encourage one another, and learn more about the work of FOCUS missionaries on university campuses. In 1998, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) began with two missionaries at Benedictine College. Today, more than 861 FOCUS missionaries serve on more than 185 locations across the US, Mexico, and Europe. FOCUS missionaries continue to help our young people go out to all the world and share the good news.
Along with myself there were some 70 students from across our diocese, mostly from Southeast Missouri State University and Missouri State University, but others as well. I was able to meet up with our young people from the diocese as well as celebrate Mass daily with 17,000 other college students. Yes, that is not a typo: there were some 17,000 college students who gave up a week of their Christmas vacation to attend this conference. And on Wednesday evening of the conference, open to anyone, an additional 2,000 came for a night of adoration and confessions.
On Tue., Jan. 3, I was able to meet with all our students and give them a little talk to encourage them in their spiritual growth. What did I tell them? First, it’s important to know what you don’t know. Each one of us might know the basics of the faith, but there is so much more that we could know. And during this three-year Eucharistic Revival maybe one could learn something more about the Eucharist, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Maybe you could learn more about devotion to the Blessed Mother and the doctrines related to her. Maybe for others, they could learn more about the beauty of the Sacrament of Reconciliation or take time to read from the Catechism. For as much as each one of us might know about the faith, there is so much more we could learn.
The next point offered to our young people was the importance of knowing one’s primary fault. What is the sin that you fall into most often? Hopefully each one of us can answer that, because when we know our primary fault, then the Holy Spirit enlightens us to know the corresponding virtue that needs to be developed in order to overcome that fault. This highlights the major battles that we fight in the spiritual life– the battle with one’s self! Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I think it was Saint Anthony of the Desert who said “The greatest battle is with self.” If we cannot identify our primary fault, we are hindered in the process of holiness and growth in the spiritual life.
Finally, I challenged our young people to define their “spiritual non-negotiables.” The spiritual non-negotiables for the clergy are laid out for us by the Church. Those non-negotiables include daily Mass, praying the Divine Office as we promised, obedience to the bishop, daily rosary, regular confession, spiritual reading, and spiritual direction. What are the spiritual non-negotiables of a college student? Hopefully a commitment to never miss Mass on a Sunday or holy day along with regular celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. These two sacraments accompany us throughout the pilgrimage of faith that we call life. And, as we are called to love God we are also called to love our neighbor through some type of outreach or assistance. Then, as vocations are discerned and defined, other spiritual obligations such as the rosary, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and family time become part of who we are.
With these three thoughts I challenged our young people at the SEEK23 Conference to grow in their faith. And, as I bring this column to an end, I ask all who will read this column to answer the same question, “What are your spiritual non-negotiables?”
As a final note, I want to say thank you to all those who contributed to the Diocesan Capital Campaign. You may recall that a third of the funds raised was for youth and young adult formation programs. Every college student from our diocese that went to the SEEK23 Conference received financial assistance from the Youth Endowment Fund. And next year, we hope to send more! By the way, next year, the SEEK24 Conference will again be in St. Louis!