February 1, 2023 | National & World News
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

Students kneel in prayer during Mass at SEEK23, which was held in St. Louis, Mo., from Jan. 2-6, 2023. COURTESY OF FOCUS SEEK23

‘SEEK23: You Are Called’ featured tributes to Pope Emeritus Benedict XIV and inspiration from ‘The Chosen’ actor Jonathan Roumie


Founded in 1998, FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) continues to inspire hope for the future of the Church and confirm that zeal for Jesus is flourishing on college campuses and beyond. SEEK23: You Are Called at the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis Jan. 2-6 brought together souls from around the world seeking Him, including groups from Ireland, Austria, Germany, Mexico and other countries.

Jonathan Roumie, the actor who plays Jesus in the hit series The Chosen, surprised the SEEK23 audience by playing trivia with students and speakers on stage and then sharing his testimony. He encouraged attendees, “If you feel like you need some sort of breakthrough in your life, if you need some sort of opportunity to go further and something’s holding you back, ask yourself: Have you completely surrendered to God?”

FOCUS kicked off its 25th anniversary celebration at SEEK23. From 25 students at the inaugural FOCUS event in 1999 to nearly 19,000 people registered for SEEK23, FOCUS conferences continue to change lives and encourage tens of thousands of people to “Fear not; rise, He is calling you” (Mk 10:49).

Over the past 25 years, the Holy Spirit has worked through FOCUS to invite thousands of people into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. Building upon its foundation of campus ministry and parish outreach, FOCUS will galvanize hundreds of thousands more souls as missionary disciples striving towards heaven together.

An advance showing of the “Thirst for Souls: The Michelle Duppong Story” documentary aired at SEEK23, detailing the remarkable life of Servant of God Michelle Duppong, a former FOCUS missionary who passed away from cancer in 2015 at the age of 31. The film explored the many ways Duppong inspired others with her courageous spirit and missionary zeal. In 2022, Bishop David Kagan, Diocese of Bismarck, N.D., announced the opening of the diocesan investigation, which could lead to Duppong’s beatification and canonization.

SEEK23 included several tributes to Pope Emeritus Benedict XIV, including a memorial at the Adoration Chapel all week and a Requiem Mass on Thursday, Jan. 5. FOCUS Founder and CEO Curtis Martin led a rosary before the Mass in honor of Benedict XVI, who in 2011 appointed Martin as a Consulter to the Pontifical Council of the New Evangelization.

During his homily, Archbishop Timothy Broglio (Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA) reflected, “The passing of Pope Benedict is a reminder of God’s divine love for us and the opportunity to respond to the Lord.” Broglio, who was recently elected to lead the USCCB, urged SEEK23 attendees to “not leave SEEK without recognizing the immense love of God for you and the amazing opportunities to witness to His name in our daily lives.”

FOCUS will return to St. Louis for next year’s SEEK24 Jan 1-5, 2024. Registration is open at seek.focus.org/seek24.  

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Publisher |  Bishop William F. Medley
Editor |  Elizabeth Wong Barnstead
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