While still practicing social distancing, many young adults of the Diocese of Allentown found a way to engage with other young adults through a one-of-a-kind event.
People across the country gathered Feb. 4-7 in living rooms, campus centers and parishes for a live broadcast event encountering the heart of the Gospel. “Seek21,” the annual conference of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), was held virtually this time.
Several young adult groups throughout the Diocese of Allentown shared the experience of the conference and then came together in person and online for an Evening of Adoration and Confession with Bishop Alfred Schlert Feb. 6 at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown.
Some of the groups shared their experiences.
“The talks we listened to were so deep and convicting, and our subsequent discussions were likewise a profound experience,” said Francis Fasnello, group leader at the Cathedral. “I felt uplifted in my faith during the conference and came out of it ready to more actively pursue a Catholic life.”
The 10 participants gathered there were women, men, singles and married couples, with some participants joining virtually. “The combination of personalities was beautiful, especially as the Holy Spirit worked through each one in a unique way,” said Fasnello.
“It was a terrific experience and more young adults should know about it.”
Holy Infancy/Queenship of Mary
The combined group of Holy Infancy, Bethlehem and Queenship of Mary, Northampton met online for the three days of the conference and in-person for one day. Five single young adults were balanced by one newly married couple and one religious sister.
“I value the sacred space, trust and openness of each one in sharing deeply what’s in their hearts,” said Sister Luiza, group leader.
“It was a tremendous grace being able to journey with my peers and us nourishing each other’s vocations – whether we are religious, married or single and discerning. The conference talks were excellent, and being given the access for six months, our group decided to try to meet once a month and listen to more impact sessions and touch base with each other.”
St. Elizabeth of Hungary
“I think it was wonderful that they took this opportunity to make this event more accessible to everyone. It’s great to know that there are other young Catholics who feel the same joy,” said Isaaca Lee, who participated at St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Whitehall.
She was one of 10 group members who watched the conference together and had discussion afterwards, some in person and some online, according to group leader Christina Tran. All were single young adults – mostly working professionals and a few still in college – plus Father Jojappa (Joji) Adagatla, assistant pastor.
“They attended weekly Thursday Mass, Father celebrated Mass for us on Friday and Saturday Mass at the Cathedral with the Bishop,” said Tran.
“Seek21 happened the weekend right before our semester started,” said Amanda Kapitula, who led a group of eight at Lafayette College, Easton.
“So I think for many of us, this was a good way to strengthen our faith just before we got swept into a world of assignments and stress. The conference was a good reminder that the best kind of life is one centered on Jesus.
“Seek reinforced the importance of community. Whether it was the topics the speakers talked about or struggles/experiences mentioned in the small group, it felt good to be reassured that I am not alone in my walk of faith.”
The talk themes that seemed to resonate with the group were trusting in God even in difficult times and allowing ourselves to let Him fight for us.
St. John the Baptist
The group of 10 at St. John the Baptist, Pottsville was from three parishes in Schuylkill County, a mix of married couples and singles.
“We did a hybrid of in-person and virtual discussions that fit peoples’ schedules,” said Bobby Rienzo, the group leader.
“We enjoyed getting to know one another and building new relationships through the discussions about our spiritual lives. Our group continues to meet weekly for the FOCUS Lenten Bible Study.”
Next year’s conference, “Seek22,” is scheduled for Dec. 30 through Jan. 3 in Salt Lake City, Utah. For speakers and other information, go to https://seek.focus.org/.