'Made for Mission': Student Leadership Summit kicks off in Phoenix

FOCUS 1 2 Attendees at SLS20. | FOCUS

Thousands of Catholics from across the nation are gathering in Phoenix, Arizona, this week for SLS20, the biennial Student Leadership Summit hosted by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). 

The conference, which is being held under the theme "You Were Made For Mission," opened on Dec. 30 at the Phoenix Convention Center, beginning with a Mass and keynote addresses from author and musician Emily Wilson, and Fr. Mike Schmitz. Fr. Schmitz is chaplain for the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and leads the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Duluth.  

Over the next four days some 9,000 Catholics will attend keynote talks and small-group sessions about missionary discipleship. There will also be daily opportunities for Mass, adoration and confession. 

Though SLS20 is organized by FOCUS, the four-day event is not exclusive to college students. It includes programming to help post-college attendees and even campus ministry professionals become better missionaries in their families, parishes, and workplaces. 

"Attending SLS two years ago served as a catalyst for how my husband and I view our role as missionary disciples - more specifically, how we enter into the mission field of parenting our children and in helping them develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ," said Marilee Nordhus, of Wichita, Kansas.

Marilee attended SLS18 in Chicago and is now in Phoenix for SLS20. 

"We are forever grateful to FOCUS as they simplified what I used to think was a daunting task," she said. "Today's young people need courageous adults who love Jesus and find strength in Him as we help change culture."

Keynote speakers for SLS20 include Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, M.I.C., Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, Sr. Bethany Madonna, S.V., Fr. Agustino Torres, C.F.R., Helen Alvaré, Curtis Martin, Damon Owens, Dr. Jonathan Reyes and Dr. Edward Sri.

SLS20 takes place across the New Year holiday, and includes a New Year's Eve party for attendees. Entertainment for that party, and throughout the event, includes artists like Ndolo, Jeremy Camp, and Matt Maher. 

All Masses and evening keynote addresses will be live-streamed on the FOCUSCatholic Facebook page.

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