The 2016 Steubenville summer conferences, through a combination of speakers, worship leaders, intercessory teams and on-ground logistics crews, allowed for the continuous conversion of so many impressionable youth, young adults, and adults.
John Beaulieu, director of youth outreach in the Christian Outreach office, spoke about the many positives of the experiences created by the summer conferences.
“Students have had this faith awakening experience, and they see a presentation on the university that tells them there’s more to come. They find a deeper experience of God at Steubenville,” he said.
Perhaps nowhere is the community more alive with Steubenville conference attendants than on campus, at a university that Beaulieu asserts “can deliver on the promise” of authentic faith.
Jasmine Cortez, junior social work major and three-time Steubenville conference attendee, said she particularly enjoyed the way that the conference was full of such life. “I enjoyed the atmosphere of the conferences. It was always warm, welcoming, fun and very uplifting.”
“The conference really affirmed not only my own personal faith, but my faith in the Church,” said fellow junior Chris Figueroa, who attended Steubenville West in Tucson, Arizona, during the summers of 2013 and 2014. “Being able to see all the young people there crying out for God, and wanting so badly to be close with him, led to me wanting to be close with him as well.”
A highlight of every Steubenville summer conference remains the presence of Eucharistic adoration. “The conferences,” said Maggie Free, sophomore theology major, “inspired my love for the Eucharist. I had never experienced adoration like a way I did there.”
The four-time conference attendee and Franciscan LEAD participant said that the conferences “convinced me that I needed to be around people who are like-minded and share my faith.”
“I felt that sense of belonging,” said Mark Hale, a sophomore majoring in theology and catechetics. Speaking fondly of his two conference visits, he said, “It helped me to create a base by which I could understand human nature. It led to a greater understanding of my own faith.”
Hale also noted the commonality between attendance at a Steubenville conference and enrollment at Franciscan University. Figueroa said similarly that he decided, “If the people at Franciscan were anything like the people who ran the conferences, I wanted to be at Franciscan.”
Appropriately, the conferences encourage students to live out their faith in a world which often does little to validate it. This theme, said Free, provided the continuity between a three-day conference and years of future education. “Franciscan University is a continuation of the conferences. It encourages you to live your faith, not just over the weekend but through the formative college years.”
57,000 youth, adults, and young adults attended 32 conference events during the summer of 2016, a testament not only to the constant need for Christ, but also to the success of the Steubenville conference model.
In 2017, those record numbers will likely be again shattered, just as they were last year, and the year before that. “Elevate,” next summer’s theme, is based upon Revelation 5:21, “Behold, I make all things new.” The recipe for a successful Steubenville summer conference remains a desire, from speakers to conference logistics staff, to create disciples of all nations.