Earlier in February, university students from six Melbourne campuses (Monash, Deakin—Geelong, Deakin—Burwood, RMIT, the University of Melbourne and La Trobe) gathered over a weekend in person to participate in the 2022 SEEK conference, an online Catholic conference for university students. It was an opportunity to gather with fellow students from different campuses, to dive deeper into the Gospel and to discover how they might answer Jesus’ call to relationship and discipleship.

Students were able to hear from renowned speakers including Fr Mike Schmitz, Jason Evert, Curtis Martin, Sr Miriam James Heidland (and many more) to unpack what it means to encounter Jesus Christ and live out a relationship with him.

One of the students in attendance, Liam from Deakin University—Burwood, shared how life in lockdown brought him back to his Catholic faith and led him to attend the SEEK conference.

Growing up, I was raised a Roman Catholic but drifted away from the faith. Through primary and high school, I attended the mandatory religious education classes while going to Mass on Sundays. In my early teenage years, I altar-served and was involved in my parish; however, I began to lose interest in the faith.’

By the time Liam got to university, he had lost his faith and embraced an atheistic worldview—something that would be challenged when he was plunged into a life of lockdown.

‘At the start of my third year of university, COVID-19 hit the world, and life changed in a short period of time. In this time, I would spend months living and working in the same place while having nobody but my housemate for company. My mental health suffered during the lockdowns, as I believe that many people’s did.

‘During this time, I discovered Catholic media online and started to take in as much as possible so as to learn and grow in my faith. YouTube channels like ‘Breaking in the Habit’ and ‘Word on Fire’ have helped me to grow closer to God, especially in the most difficult periods of my life.

My convictions have only grown stronger and helped me to become a better disciple of Christ. I am so glad that God was there for me in this time of my life.’

The SEEK conference was one of the first face-to-face gatherings where Liam was able to share with other university students since coming back to the faith and the ending of lockdowns. At the conference, students were able to celebrate the love of God in their lives and to share how they could be witnesses on their respective university campuses, building a culture of discipleship together.

After a wonderful SEEK conference experience, Liam was encouraged to know that other students had encountered the love of God like he has. With students returning to campus for the first time in two years, Liam shared that he and the other students could make a difference on campus and ‘hopes that people across all university campuses will feel the love of God as well!’