SLS18 Inspires and Equips Thousands to Share Joy of the Gospel

The World Apostolate of Fatima attended one of the largest gatherings of Catholics around the topic of evangelization, SLS18: Inspire & Equip, hosted by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), which welcomed more than 8,000 participants to Chicago Jan. 2 – 6, 2018. The International Pilgrim Virgin Statue was brought in for the occasion and was venerated in the 24-hour Eucharistic adoration chapel set up in a conference room at the McCormick Center.

Attendees, most of them college students, honed evangelization skills through training and practice sessions. In between sessions, they visited with sponsoring organizations and religious orders. Hundreds of students and other attendees stopped by the WAF booth, which was set up as a photo booth where they could “come to Fatima” and get their picture taken with the three shepherd children. Interest in the story and message of Fatima was high among the young adults and others who find themselves on the front lines of the battle for the culture.

“Our mission as an organization is to participate in the New Evangelization by sharing the message of Fatima. Young people are hungry for the tools to help them evangelize their friends and peers, many of whom are wholeheartedly embracing atheism,” says David Carollo, executive director of the WAF. “Fatima is a beautiful message of hope that invites them to return to God, because He is the only answer if we are to have true peace.”

The conference included three tracks; a Collegiate Track for the more than 5,000 college students who came from 410 campuses, the Campus Ministry Track for more than 500 chaplains and campus ministers and a Lifelong Mission Track for over 1,000 lay ministers, parishioners, seminarians, parish priests, FOCUS alumni and benefactors. Additional attendees included others wishing to transform their parishes, communities and workplaces, as well as more than 800 FOCUS staff.

Jim Caveziel, who played the role of Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ,” was a surprise guest during the Wednesday evening keynote. Caveziel, who stars in the upcoming film, “Paul, Apostle of Christ,” encouraged attendees to be warriors animated by faith. Keynote speakers for SLS18 included Bishop Robert Barron, Sr. Bethany Madonna, Fr. Mike Schmitz, Lisa Brenninkmeyer, Jason Evert, Curtis Martin, Dr. Edward Sri, Kelsey Skoch, Sarah Swafford and Mike Sweeney.

SLS18 included daily opportunities for Mass, adoration, confession and discernment.

More than 200 priests concelebrated daily Mass and heard approximately 4,000 confessions over the course of the five-day event. Our Ecclesial Advisor, Bishop Joseph Perry (Archdiocese of Chicago) celebrated the opening Mass. Other celebrants included Cardinal Blase J. Cupich (Archdiocese of Chicago), Archbishop George Lucas (Archdiocese of Omaha), Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio (Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA) and Archbishop John J. Myers (Archbishop emeritus of Diocese of Newark).

Many world-renowned Catholic speakers shared perspectives on current faith issues, including experts such as Helen Alvaré, Fr. Philip Bochanski, Dr. Mary Healy, Fr. John Kartje, Harry Kraemer, Jr., Dr. Jonathan Reyes, also spoke.

FOCUS events have welcomed more than 61,000 attendees since the inaugural National Conference held in 1999, where 25 students came together to pray, deepen their Catholic faith and learn how to share Christ with others.

The World Apostolate of Fatima is working on several initiatives and collaborating with FOCUS to help strengthen the faith and devotion of college students and bring about conversions.

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