On Monday evening, January 2nd, Br. Etienne and I traveled with 45 students from Northwest Missouri State University to attend SEEK 2017, the Catholic college student conference put on by FOCUS.
Monday evening we departed Maryville, Missouri at 9:30 PM en route to San Antonio, Texas. I’m not one for long bus rides, but the 15-16 hours of total travel time was not as bad as I had expected. Nevertheless, we arrived in sunny San Antonio on Tuesday afternoon feeling like we had spent all night on a bus (oh wait, we actually did!). The tiredness and memories of attempting to sleep upright quickly faded and were replaced with excitement and warmer weather. While the warmer 70 degree weather disappeared and was replaced with 30 degree temperatures, the excitement remained.
The Downtown Riverwalk area is absolutely beautiful, with its lights, restaurants, and the numerous hotels were the 12,500 students who attended the conference were staying. Haven’t been to the Riverwalk? Just enjoy these pictures.
There were spectacular speakers at the conference: Matt Hart, Fr. Mike Schmitz, Lou Holtz, Matt Fradd, Dr. Edward Sri, Sr. Bethany Madonna, Sarah Swafford, and many more. Each morning began with the celebration of the Eucharist. It was powerful concelebrating Mass with more than 200 priests in the long procession. One of the speakers that I enjoyed in particular was Coach Lou Holtz (pictured below).
Thankfully the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center is capable of hosting such a large crowd of people. One of the best things was walking around the convention center and running into countless priests and students that I have crossed paths with over the years.
We ran into many priest alumni of Conception Seminary College, including Fr. Sam Matthiesen and Fr. Adam Droll of San Angelo, Texas.
We were also able to do some sightseeing during walks between the convention center and the hotels. I was able to catch up with a few monastic vocation candidates as well during the trip.
Perhaps the most powerful experience was Thursday evening during the Adoration and Reconciliation service. There were more than 300 priest hearing confessions for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Apparently the line for Reconciliation became so long that it was a fire hazard. Many of the students on our bus shared their conversion experiences and encounters with Jesus Christ during the ride home. It was a graced time for everyone.