Diocesan News

School sees fruit of SEEK conference

DAVID CITY (SNR/AHS) – Last month, students, alumni and teachers from Aquinas High School in David City attended the SEEK conference in San Antonio, joining 13,000 others from around the nation and the world in worship and developing a stronger faith through speeches and sacraments.

SEEK is a biannual conference for college students seeking inspiration on their journey to holiness.  The conference is sponsored by Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). 

Seven Aquinas students attended the conference with chaperones Sister Ann Marie Zierke, English and religion teacher, and Father Benjamin Holdren, senior religion teacher. Zierke said several Aquinas alumni attended the conference, including Tony Birkel (‘11), Ben Kranda (‘09), Courtny Novacek Shonka (‘10) and Jake Shonka (‘10), who are FOCUS missionaries.

Holdren told seniors about the conference and encouraged students to make the trip. Senior Isaiah Jones said he felt called to go to the conference.  Senior Grace Moravec said, “I heard from a lot of people that it was an amazing experience,” which encouraged her to go. 

The conference consisted of daily Mass, speeches, Adoration and some form of entertainment.  The keynote speakers included Curtis Martin, Sister Bethany Madonna, Father Mike Schmitz, John O’Leary, Dr. Edward Sri, Sister Miriam James Heidland, John Leyendecker, and Mark Hart.  Other speakers, such as Leah Darrow, Archbishop Charles Chaput, Jeff Cavins and Jason and Crystalina Evert, broke out into sessions and attendees could pick and choose which session to attend. 

“[The speakers] covered just about everything,” Jones said. 

SEEK touched many people in different ways. Jones said his favorite part was “definitely Adoration, because you could feel God as though He were standing right there in the room with you.”

Moravec said the best part of SEEK was “being able to trust God and letting Him guide me in every activity I did.” 

The highlight for Zierke was seeing former students continuing to strive to grow in their faith.  Zierke also said her favorite speaker was Father Michael Gaitley, the author of 33 Days to Morning Glory.  “I read his stuff before but never realized how funny he was.  His talk was about the importance of Divine Mercy and how he has seen it work in his life,” Zierke said.

Although the SEEK conference is geared toward college students, the conference is beneficial for high school seniors to prepare for college. 

“[The experience] helps put your relationships in order.  Your relationship with God and others. It inspires you to be a saint and help others to be saints,” Zierke said. 

Teresa Pokorny, a teacher at Aquinas, said she has noticed students attending daily Mass more often since returning from SEEK.

“Several of the students who went on SEEK already went to daily Mass,” Sister Ann Marie Zierke added, “but the numbers have definitely increased. They are even bringing friends and siblings.”

From Valeria Whitmore, Aquinas student

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