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Young People Encounter Something More: SEEK2019

Reflection by Brother Mark Engelmeyer, FSC

Our society tends to focus on the negative. As part of our congregation, the De La Salle Christian Brothers, we’ve had many conversations about young people leaving the Church and how we, personally and communally, can better evangelize and invite young people to participate in the life of the Church.

To ring in the new year, Jan. 3-7, I had the opportunity to see the other side of that story and encounter something more when I participated with 17,000 college students coming together from across the country to embrace and strengthen their faith at the SEEK Conference, hosted by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS).

Throughout the experience, I would look around at all the college students, religious, and priests, and I would say, “Wow, God has such a great Church.”

 

SEEK invites participants to experience both profound moments of personal and liturgical prayer, as well as a wider exposure to Church-with many groups present to share their charism and mission.

Many religious orders were present to give visibility to their their vocation within the Church and share that with young people who may not have encountered their congregation previously.

Numerous participants came up to ask about our religious habit.

Usually, it went “tell me about this”, with some hand motion around the rabat, pointing to one of the distinctive elements. It was encouraging that they continued the conversation to learn about the Brothers and our mission. While maybe not as well known as other religious orders, our habit certainly gives a great invitation and conversation starter, providing an opportunity to reflect on God’s providence in providing our Founder and our Institute with such a great and simple asset from its earliest days.

Also, it was great to reconnect with alumni of our schools who stopped by the booth to say hi and share a story, clearly moved by their educational experience with us. They were excited to hear we continue to have young men discerning the Brothers (16+ in initial formation-Postulancy, Novitiate, Temporary Vows- currently).

Personally, one of the great assets of the experience was the adoration chapel.  The chapel fit hundreds of people, and during the few visits that I made there, the chapel was always filled with young people.  There was one visit where I was in the back corner, and I saw a whole sea of college students between Our Eucharistic Lord and myself.  I remember telling Jesus in prayer,

‘Man, I wish I my own (high school) students could witness this.  I wish they could experience adoring You alongside hundreds of other young people. Oh Lord, please grant them that opportunity.’

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