From Jan. 2-6, Mount students were able to participate in the Catholic conference called SLS. SLS stands for Student Leadership Summit. This year’s conference was held in Chicago.
The theme of this year’s SLS conference was ‘inspire and equip.’
“The goal was to set students, or leaders, on fire for the faith and in equipping them to be able to evangelize and giving them the spirit and fire for living on mission every second of their life,” described junior Emily Flaherty, in her own words.
Sophomore Rachel Keifer added, “For us students, it was about introducing us to an even deeper encounter with Christ.”
The basic rundown of the days were, Mass in the morning, keynote talks, lunch, and group meetings. The groups were set up by Bible study groups from the Mount. “There were different training sessions for each day. One was for winning, the other for building, and the last for sending. That is the strategy for FOCUS for evangelizing,” Flaherty explained.
Students would attend these training sessions and then have a power session. Three people from each of the small groups would attend the sessions for the day and would come back to teach the group what they had learned in a power session.
In the evenings there was another main keynote speaker for the night and then a fun activity. “One night there was a concert, another time there was an ugly Christmas sweater party and another day there was adoration,” Flaherty describes.
Some of the major keynote speakers present were Fr. Mike Schmitz, Sr. Bethany Madonna, Jim Caviezel, Sarah Swafford and more. Flaherty saw Lisa Brenninkmeyer and Jason Evert. Flaherty shares, “I really loved Lisa’s and Jason’s because both of them talked about how they always put their family first before their ministry.”
Keifer describes her favorite talk, “One of the ones that really stuck out to me was by Fr. Mike Schmitz. He kind of built off of one of the first speakers, Kelsey Skoch. She began the whole event by asking, ‘What if you gave Jesus everything?’ and that was something that stayed in my mind.”
Flaherty described her favorite part of the conference, “I always love adoration because adoration there is very special. There are so many people, 8000 people, in adoration is always a very powerful experience.”
This was Keifer’s first FOCUS conference but says that she is interested in attending another one in the future. “The sheer number of people and the community that I felt there was enough to inspire me to go back and reconnect with those people; just to be part of this giant church family. It was great.”
The next FOCUS conference is SEEK in January 2019 in Indianapolis. They are accepting registration now for those who want to apply!