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Home WHAT’S NEW SEEKERS GET NEW OUTLOOK ON CHURCH

SEEKERS GET NEW OUTLOOK ON CHURCH PDF Print E-mail

.The article was first reported by The Catholic Free Press

January 10, 2019

By Tanya Connor

“Only older Catholics like to go to Mass, adoration and confession. The faith is dying. It should be more fun.”
Friends say such things to Dale Brown, a student at Nichols College in Dudley. But he has a different perspective after attending a conference.
The Jan. 3-7 conference in Indianapolis – SEEK2019: Encounter Something More” – was sponsored by the Denver-based Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS).

More than 17,000 people from around the world registered for the gathering that included talks, entertainment, adoration and Masses celebrated by bishops and priests, a press release said. There were tracks for college students, campus ministers and “lifelong mission.”

Attendee Grace Boutiette, a Worcester State University student, said she now wants to show teenagers that faith “can be fun.”

Something Adam Duval said he learned at the conference was that atheism, science, the sexual abuse crisis and LGBTQ issues (about orientations or lifestyles other than heterosexual) are reasons young people today aren’t getting more involved in church. Now the Assumption College student is looking to evangelize through social media.
“I plan on expressing my faith in a new way, by being more vocal about my beliefs and not shying away from opportunities to share how faith has impacted my life,” said Adi Nathan, another Assumption College student who attended.

“The real theme of the conference, in my mind, was inviting the people there to ponder the question, ‘What would happen if I gave my whole heart to God?’” said Father Donato Infante III, associate pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Charlton, who does campus ministry at Nichols College and organized a small group of local attendees.

“The conference began by talking about how God is absolutely in love with each individual person and desires their well-being and their fulfillment. And by the end … the conference … was inviting the students to go forth and share their joy and the love of God with their peers.”

“Our going to this conference is part of a year-long effort” to see “how we’re going to do evangelization better, to put a more missionary focus in the work that we do,” said Deacon Paul Covino, Assumption College’s director of campus ministry.

.“This is our first formal link with FOCUS,” he said, but they’ve been talking with that ministry, which invites students into a personal relationship with Jesus and his Church, and encourages discipleship and evangelization. Founded in 1998, FOCUS has nearly 700 missionaries serving in more than 150 locations worldwide, the organization said.

“I think a lot of campus ministers have tended to offer a lot of programs and events and groups,” Deacon Covino said. “The conference was calling us to develop relationships of true friendship with students … helping those students to deepen their relationhip with Jesus.” Then they’ll be more interested in the programs.

“Our students were blown away by being in the presence of 17,000 very enthusiastic Catholics” at the conference, he said.
Mr. Brown said that in his Diocese of Portland, Maine, many young people are not involved in their faith, and at Nichols College only about four attend Masses. At the conference, he realized he’s not alone.

From a program in his diocese he got tools for teaching the faith, but seeing 17,000 people getting those tools “changes your perspective,” he said. Friends tell him only older Catholics like to practice the faith, but he spoke of 17,000 people being in awe during adoration and Mass, and nearly 5,000 going to confession in two hours.

He and Father Infante expressed hopes of meeting with a Nichols’ dean to talk about how to bring what they gained at the conference to students there.
Mr. Nathan said he was struggling with his faith before he went. “
God spoke to me and told me what I needed to hear,” he said.

“In a time where a lot of students are struggling with their faith, it was a great opportunity to find courage within that large community to develop your faith in a way that you generally wouldn’t be able to on a college campus,” he said. “The speakers provided a lot of insight into how you can live as a person of faith and help others bring forth their desire to be people of faith.”  

Mr. Duval said participants were taught about responding to issues people discuss on social media, and he wants to think about doing that and helping bring people he knows back to the Church, as he’s on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

Miss Boutiette said she’s eager to show the teenagers she helps teach at St. Joseph Parish in Charlton that she sort of left her faith, returned and is enjoying it. Many think that if they have doubts about the faith, maybe they’re not meant for it, she said. They don’t realize lots of other people are going through what they experience.

The conference included a speaker who told how he “messed up,” she said, adding, “He is still working on things, just like everyone else.”
As Deacon Covino spoke by telephone from the airport on the way home, he spotted someone with a Holy Cross sweatshirt and invited her to talk to The Catholic Free Press too.
Emily Amann, of the Diocese of Portland, said she and other students from the College of the Holy Cross attended the conference, but not as a group.
“It was a great opportunity to grow more in the faith and learn more about it,” she said, before boarding her plane.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 January 2019 10:19
 
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