Seek 23 Summit brings thousands of Catholics to St. Louis to evangelize, as All Things New looms over local parishes

Published: Jan. 2, 2023 at 10:20 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Thousands of Catholics from across the country poured into downtown St. Louis, Monday, for the first day of the SEEK 23 Summit. This is a national conference to teach college students, and other people of faith attending, how to spread the word of God.

The event is in person for the first time since 2020 thanks to the pandemic. Its presence in St. Louis aligns with the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and its effort to call its 490,000 Catholics to evangelize amid All Things New.

Mizzou Junior, Erin Powers is back home in St. Louis on winter break to attend the Seek 23 Summit. She said for her hometown to host the event, means everything.

“Why would I not use the power that I have to evangelize the world,” Powers said

She said she’s on a mission to teach others about the Catholic faith through prayer.

“Prayer is our living relationship with Christ,” Powers said. “If you want to have a relationship with Christ, you need to pray.”

Thousands of college students poured into the America’s Center Monday for the Seek 23 Summit. A week-long program exploring the catholic faith. Organizers said 1/3 of the college-aged focus program are post-grads and older parishioners.

“I want to say we have solidly 1,000 St. Louis Catholics here,” Vice-President of Life Long Mission at FOCUS Eileen Piper said. “That tells me that people are hungry.”

Piper said it’s not a coincidence Seek 23 is in St. Louis as “All Things New” continues to loom over area parishes – a comprehensive plan that will impact all 178 parishes, with closures or mergers, because of declining numbers.

“We are equipping them so they can learn how to evangelize that isn’t awkward, with the people in your life,” Piper shared. “How do you pray together, how do you tell the story of Jesus?

“I want our people here in St. Louis to pick up on that enthusiasm,” Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski said.

Somewhere between 16,000 and 17,000 Catholics from across the country are visiting St. Louis for this conference. Someone on the invite list who will not be here is Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the leader of the New York Diocese. The St. Louis native was scheduled to participate but is now in Rome for the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI.

Archbishop Rozanski said if an area Catholic doesn’t know where to start on how to talk about their faith, start with sharing how faith makes a difference in daily life.

“Pope Benedict said while he was pope, the church is eternally young,” Archbishop Rozanski explained. “Those young people who might be on the margins of practicing their faith, we are inviting you to fully share in the faith and receive the graces the church brings and indeed bring that message to others.”

That’s why Erin Powers believes college students have the biggest role in the future of Catholicism in St. Louis.

“It’s so important for people to get out there, get into their faith,” Powers said. “You can be the one to help bring these people into the church and see the good that is going on.”

For more information on how to participate in the event or learn more about the organization, visit FOCUS’ website.

By the end of the week, more than 19,000 Catholics participated in SEEK 23. For anyone who wants to attend next year’s event, SEEK 24 will be in St. Louis from Jan. 1-5, 2024, click here.