The SEEK24 Conference started with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm! The opening Mass was held on Monday evening, beginning at 6pm. Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski was the presider. In his homily, he began with giving great thanks for gathering us all together. Like the shepherds who were brought together by the Lord Jesus, through Mary, we too gather because of the faith that unites us in Mary's son.
He continued God has given us the privilege to participate in salvation history. We get to be an instrument in God's plan because God's Son is born into the world. We are all invited through baptism to be signs of salvation to the world in which He was born.
Now, we can each ask Mary, on the Solemnity of Mary the Holy Mother of God, and the prime disciple of her son, to each each of us to be an instrument of salvation to the world through the witness of our lives.
More than 20,000 people are signed up for SEEK24, a significant increase from last year. Most were on the edge of their seats when Fr. Josh Johnson, the first keynote speaker, took the stage.
Fr. Josh's overarching message was that our Church, in the words of Pope Francis, is a not supposed to be a museum of saints but a hospital of sinners. We each struggle and we are surrounded by people who struggle.
He reminds us that Jesus Himself did not feed the thousands. Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes, but the people who actually distributed the food to those who were gathered with the disciples, including the Apostles. Peter, Simon the Zealot, and Matthew would have been people who had treated others poorly based on what we knew of them from the Bible and the times. If Peter walked away from the Lord, he walked away from others. Zealots used violence to get their point across. Tax collectors stole from the people. These would have been hard individuals for the people to receive the gift from Jesus of bread and fish. However, they were the proximate people and because they were proximate, they were the path through which Christ's gifts were passed on.
As he wrapped up, he shared with us the Chaplet of Eli. Eli is the man from Scripture who told Samuel to reply to the Lord with "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening." (1 Sam 3). This is prayed on the rosary. On the Our Father bead, you pray an Our Father. On each of the Hail Mary beads, you pray "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening." On the Glory Be bead, the prayer is "Let it be done to me according to thy word." More information can be found Here
The second keynote speaker was Tina Augustine.
Her message was centered around what we are made to be.
Often, our identities get tied into where we are in life. It could be our vocation or our job. But the reality is mother, priest, and doctor are not our deepest identies. Our deepest identity is as beloved son or daugher of God, the Father.
We were created by Love to be loved. Experiences and human brokenness can change how we come to know God, but that is our perspective, not God's. God is calling each of us, seeking each of us, desiring to draw closer to each of us.
She closed with the reminder that while most major religions are the story of the person's journey to find God, Christianity is really God's search for the person.