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The Power of an Invitation

January 14, 2019

As a Catholic missionary at UNO, I have the privilege of talking with students and asking big questions. A couple weeks ago, my missionary team and I went on campus and asked students the question, “What do you seek?” We received varying answers from, “Food,” to “Not feeling lonely anymore.” The most interesting part to me though, was that when posed with this question, many students seemed to be at a loss, as if they had never pondered what they sought out of life before.

This mundane and lonesome lifestyle was one that I was living four years ago as a freshman in college. I had friends and good grades, but there was an underlying ache for something more. That all changed when a FOCUS missionary invited me to SEEK2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. SEEK is a Catholic conference put on by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). This conference consists of Catholic speakers who discuss the importance and relevance of the Catholic faith, especially on a college campus.

With much hesitation, I said yes to that missionary’s invitation and found myself on a fifteen-hour bus ride with a bunch of strangers. Upon arrival, I was quickly submerged into a crowd of 10,000 other students who all appeared to be in the same boat. I decided to try to make the best of it, and I carefully chose the talks I went to, making sure they were topics I was interested in and wanted a deeper understanding of. During the third night of the conference there was Eucharistic adoration and confession. Although I had been to adoration before, nothing could quite compare to this. I walked into a room of 10,000 college students on their knees on a concrete floor, all in complete adoration of our exposed Savior, Jesus Christ, truly present in the Eucharist. It was one of the most chilling experiences I have ever had. I knew at that moment that everything was true. I had been living with the question of “What if God is real?” and without the reality of his all-consuming love for me. By kneeling in front of the Eucharist, I knew that God was without a doubt real and that He wanted a personal relationship with me.

Now, four years later, I just got home from SEEK2019, but this time, as a missionary. I have been to four SEEK conferences, and each one never ceases to amaze. This year there were 18,000 people in attendance. As I walked through the crowds, it was incredibly clear to me that God was at work. What started as a team of just a few missionaries on Benedictine College’s campus twenty years ago has now turned into over 700 missionaries on over 150 campuses, with yearly conferences consisting of thousands of people. Not one of the 18,000 students would have encountered the Lord at this conference if they did not have missionaries on their campuses to invite them. Personally, I would not be a missionary if it weren’t for an invitation to SEEK four years ago. Invitations matter.

All of the missionaries praying for their students together.

So what do you seek? Do you desire to be bold and invite others into holiness? Saint John Paul II once said, “The Church needs genuine witnesses for the new evangelization: men and women whose lives have been transformed by meeting with Jesus, men and women who are capable of communicating this experience to others. The Church needs saints.” What seems like a small invitation could turn into a big conversion. Go be a saint, and invite others to be one with you.

Link to a video about SEEK here.

JPII Newman students before getting on the bus at midnight.

Students waving the UNO flag along with hundreds of other schools.

Miranda Ketteler | FOCUS Missionary, University of Nebraska at Omaha

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