|Sarah, Katie, me, Nikki, Mary, Lisa and Cari|
We ended up arriving in Orlando eight hours earlier than we had originally planned, but huge shout-out to the events staff and the hotel workers who got up at the crack of dawn to make sure that our students' rooms were ready for them and to check us in. Cari, Bryan and I were completely amazed at how well-orchestrated our arrival was, and quite honestly, I'm still floored. Those people at the Swan and Dolphin certainly know how to accommodate large groups of people!
There's no better way to do this, so I'll just give you my own play-by-play of my own conference experience, and see if I can throw some others in along the way.
|NDSU Students being super hospitable.|
|Cheering on the Bison from Orlando!|
|Look at all them bisonCatholic students!|
Without contest my favorite part of all conference was celebrating the Eucharist with 6200 college students, at least one or more bishops, 125 priests and 350 FOCUS missionaries. I mean, WHAT! Yesterday was the gospel where Jesus multiplies the loaves and the fishes for only 5,000 people, can you imagine adding another 1500 to that!? Conceptualizing that many people under one roof is difficult, but boy what a blessing it was to celebrate the pinnacle of our faith with so many other beautiful souls. Archbishop Aquila, who used to be in the Fargo diocese and is now in Denver, was there for a few days and merely seeing him was a huge grace in my life. He cares so deeply for young people and his passion for our deeper conversions shone through in his homily.
The music was also rock solid the entire conference. L'Angelus, an awesome homegrown group that visits us annually at NST to entertain us missionaries for an evening, played before every session at Seek and I think every student fell in love with them while they were there. They totally spoiled us and I'm completely okay with it. Not only that, but the worship leaders were also super solid and had the voices of angels. AND on top of that, Matt Maher (pronounced MA-her) himself came and gave us a concert on Saturday night! It was a definite highlight of the conference for me because I was able to just be there with Jenne and really soak in the worship music, pray and not worry about the taking care of the students at that moment....not to sound selfish. But I guess we all are a little selfish sometimes, right?
Another aspect of the conference that was totally great was the technology. Because there were so many people it was too difficult to have the Keynote speakers each night all in one room, so they
|Chris Stefanick in his tiger shirt, with NDSU students|
I could give you all the highlights of each of the speakers' main talks, but I'll spare you that. I will say that this conference really lit a fire under me to strive for sainthood. The very last day Curtis Martin gave his sendoff pump-up speech, as he usually does, and he focused a lot on being a saint in the world today. "Becoming a saint isn't just a possibility," Martin stated, "it's likely. Because that is what we were made for. We were made for union with God." Boom. I sometimes get so caught up in the St. Therese of Lisieux's or Blessed JPII's that I forget that I, Kelsey Kaufman, am made to be a saint. It will just take work--making the joyful sacrifice to choose God in every moment, and not just sometimes. It takes more than going to church on Sunday to get into Heaven. It takes a conscious, daily decision to put God first always. So that's exactly what I want to do. Last semester I'll be honest, I went through the motions and did nothing to really reach in true and vivid spiritual growth. This semester I'm ready to start anew, and Jesus waits for me. He waits for me each day to give him my own "good morning" and offer my day to Him. This conference reminded me that that is what I desire, I've just let that get lost in the shuffle of my faith being my job.
|(Almost) the entire group at conference! Sportin' those bisonCatholic tees. Nice.|