Awakening a Generation

We text. We tweet. We post. We talk. We don’t often encounter.

Encounter connotes something deeper, something more than a fleeting moment on social media or a chance interaction.

Today’s world encourages us to meet our neighbors, friends , co-workers, families and total strangers online- through social media or on our phones. Brief, fleeting moments which ultimately leave us even more aware of how empty and lonely we sometimes are.

The answers the world often gives us – that money, sex and ambition will satisfy our deepest desires – consistently fall short. We are left thirsting for genuine and authentic community, connection and communication.

We need to Encounter Christ.

He longs for us – for you. The personal encounter with Christ will lead us to encounter Him in others. To encounter others with dignity, respect and love, we must first encounter God in prayer, sacraments and community. Join us as we aim to encounter the one true God – the God of love, hope and mercy.

At the Encounter Conference 2015, young adults from across the nation will join to raise our eyes above all earthly distractions to encounter God and one another – face to face.

Come, Encounter. Read More...

Speaking
Team

Chris Stefanick

Chris Stefanick speaks to over 50,000 teens, young adults, and parents every year. This youth ministry veteran served at a parish in the East Los Angeles area and as director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Archdiocese of Denver. He is the founder and president of Real Life Catholic, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reengaging a generation. Chris is a syndicated columnist, has authored or co-authored several books, and is a regular on Catholic TV. He is most proud of his wife and six children.

Father Michael Schmitz

Father Michael Schmitz, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Duluth as well as the chaplain for the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, inspires and educates through his priesthood and preaching. His Newman Center focuses on helping students be fed through the sacraments and grow in knowledge about the teachings of the Church. Ordained in 2003 at St. Paul Seminary, he has preached to youth and young adults across the country about the love of God and the call of Jesus Christ for saints to be raised up in the Church. Father Mike’s hope is that these saints will redeem the entire world for Christ.

Mary Bielski

Mary Bielski graduated from Marquette University with a double major in theology and psychology. As a volunteer youth minister for 10 years and the founder of ALL4HIM Ministries, Mary has spoken to over 40,000 teens around the nation at high school and young adult retreats and conferences, including Steubenville Youth Conferences, Life Teen-Inspiration, and parish and diocesan rallies. Mary talks on a variety of topics including conversion, prayer, the Holy Spirit, sacraments, chastity and the theology of the body. Using funny stories and engaging analogies, Mary draws her audience to the beauty of our Catholic faith, a deeper love for Christ, the Eucharist, and the call to holiness.

Matt Fradd

Matt Fradd is passionate, Australian, and decidedly Catholic. Ever since experiencing a profound conversion at World Youth Day in Rome in 2000, Matt has wholeheartedly proclaimed the Gospel and invited others to know Jesus Christ and his Church. Matt now lives with his wife, Cameron, and their three children in southern California.

Sarah Swafford

Sarah Swafford is the founder of Emotional Virtue Ministries. She speaks nationally to people of all ages on a variety of topics such as emotional virtue, dating and relationships, modesty of intentions, and interior confidence. A graduate of Benedictine College, Sarah has appeared on EWTN’s Life on the Rock and has contributed to the Ascension Press DVD program Chosen: Your Journey Toward Confirmation as well as Augustine Institute’s program YDisciple. She has other videos featured at womenmadenew.com, and she is also a team member at chastityproject.com. Sarah currently resides in Atchison, Kansas, with her husband, Dr. Andrew Swafford, and their three young children, Thomas, Fulton, and Cate.

Josh Blakesley

When Josh Blakesley’s Christian music journey began in 1992, he vowed to be “sold out” for Christ and to use his gift of writing music to glorify God. In a world dominated by well-produced secular music, he has dedicated himself to making quality contemporary Catholic music. He also is committed to spreading the Gospel through dynamic speaking and personal testimony. He has led music for over 10 years at various Steubenville youth conferences throughout the United States. In addition to composing and recording music, Josh serves as young adult coordinator and assistant music director at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church in Alexandria, Louisiana. Josh and his wife, Heather, have two children.

Chris Stefanick

George_headshot Chris Stefanick speaks to over 50,000 teens, young adults, and parents every year. This youth ministry veteran served at a parish in the East Los Angeles area and as director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Archdiocese of Denver. He is the founder and president of Real Life Catholic, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reengaging a generation. Chris is a syndicated columnist, has authored or co-authored several books, and is a regular on Catholic TV. He is most proud of his wife and six children.

Fr. Michael Schmitz

Rivera_headshot Father Michael Schmitz, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Duluth as well as the chaplain for the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, inspires and educates through his priesthood and preaching. His Newman Center focuses on helping students be fed through the sacraments and grow in knowledge about the teachings of the Church. Ordained in 2003 at St. Paul Seminary, he has preached to youth and young adults across the country about the love of God and the call of Jesus Christ for saints to be raised up in the Church. Father Mike’s hope is that these saints will redeem the entire world for Christ.

Mary Bielski

Martin_headshot Mary Bielski graduated from Marquette University with a double major in theology and psychology. As a volunteer youth minister for 10 years and the founder of ALL4HIM Ministries, Mary has spoken to over 40,000 teens around the nation at high school and young adult retreats and conferences, including Steubenville Youth Conferences, Life Teen-Inspiration, and parish and diocesan rallies. Mary talks on a variety of topics including conversion, prayer, the Holy Spirit, sacraments, chastity and the theology of the body. Using funny stories and engaging analogies, Mary draws her audience to the beauty of our Catholic faith, a deeper love for Christ, the Eucharist, and the call to holiness.

Matt Fradd

Hickman_headshot Matt Fradd is passionate, Australian, and decidedly Catholic. Ever since experiencing a profound conversion at World Youth Day in Rome in 2000, Matt has wholeheartedly proclaimed the Gospel and invited others to know Jesus Christ and his Church. Matt now lives with his wife, Cameron, and their three children in southern California.

Sarah Swafford

Heidland_headshot Sarah Swafford is the founder of Emotional Virtue Ministries. She speaks nationally to people of all ages on a variety of topics such as emotional virtue, dating and relationships, modesty of intentions, and interior confidence. A graduate of Benedictine College, Sarah has appeared on EWTN’s Life on the Rock and has contributed to the Ascension Press DVD program Chosen: Your Journey Toward Confirmation as well as Augustine Institute’s program YDisciple. She has other videos featured at womenmadenew.com, and she is also a team member at chastityproject.com. Sarah currently resides in Atchison, Kansas, with her husband, Dr. Andrew Swafford, and their three young children, Thomas, Fulton, and Cate.

Josh Blakesley

Ndolo_headshot When Josh Blakesley’s Christian music journey began in 1992, he vowed to be “sold out” for Christ and to use his gift of writing music to glorify God. In a world dominated by well-produced secular music, he has dedicated himself to making quality contemporary Catholic music. He also is committed to spreading the Gospel through dynamic speaking and personal testimony. He has led music for over 10 years at various Steubenville youth conferences throughout the United States. In addition to composing and recording music, Josh serves as young adult coordinator and assistant music director at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church in Alexandria, Louisiana. Josh and his wife, Heather, have two children.

Conference
Details

May 29 – May 31 at the St. Charles Convention Center in St. Charles, Missouri

Schedule

Friday

  • Opening Keynote
  • Impact Sessions
  • Late Night Entertainment

Saturday

  • Mass
  • Morning Keynote
  • Impact Sessions
  • Lunch (included)
  • Afternoon Keynote
  • Impact Sessions
  • Dinner (included)
  • Evening Session
  • Adoration
  • Late Night Entertainment

Sunday

  • Morning Keynote
  • Impact Sessions
  • Closing Mass

Registration

Cost

  • $235

    Standard Option

    Includes 2 nights in the Embassy Suites hotel (attached to Convention Center).

  • $115

    Commuter Option

    For those who live in St. Louis or who will be arranging their own lodging and will commute to the conference each day.

Contact Information

  • Office of Young Adult Ministry

    c/o Encounter 2015
    20 Archbishop May Dr.
    St. Louis, MO 63119
  • Phone & Email

    p. 314–792–7083
    e. encounterstl@archstl.org

Location

St. Charles Convention Center

One Convention Center Plaza,
St. Charles, MO 63303

Get Directions Convention Center Website Hotel Website

Frequently Asked
Questions

What is the Encounter Conference?
The Encounter Conference is the first of its kind Catholic young adult experience. It is hosted by the Archdiocese of St. Louis Young Adult Ministry and Franciscan University of Steubenville. The weekend will offer insights into young adult faith life and prayer experiences led by a talented team of young adult speakers. For more info on the weekend, click here.
What is the cost of the Conference?
i. The Standard registration for the conference is $235 with Hotel (Triple Occupancy). A weekend long commuter pass is $125. Hotel options are available until 4/23, commuter passes are available, pending space, until 5/29.
What is included in the cost?
A standard registration includes all programming, Hotel, Breakfast (Sat. and Sun.) Lunch and Dinner on Saturday. A commuter registration includes all programming, as well as Lunch and Dinner on Saturday.
When does the conference start and end?
Registration will begin at 3pm on Friday, May 29th, and the programming for the conference will begin at 7pm. We will be done on Sunday, May 30th , at about 1pm.
Who is speaking?
Check out the speaking team here.
What kind of lodging is available?
If you purchase a standard registration for $235, a hotel room (triple occupancy) is included at the Embassy Suites. The Embassy Suites offers 2 beds and a pull-out couch (triple occupancy) as standard for each room. We also offer a quad occupancy, which will cost $225. Single and double occupancy is available for an added fee. You can also purchase a commuter pass for $115 and provide your own accommodations.
Are the scholarships available?
Scholarships are not available at this time.
I already registered for the Encounter Conference, but now I cannot attend. Can I receive a refund?
We will not be honoring refunds for the Encounter Conference at this time; please contact us at the Office of Young Adult Ministry if you have any questions or concerns.
Can I fundraise to help cover costs?
Fundraising is a great way to help cover the costs- We recommend writing letters to family and friends to ask for sponsorships. You can download an example letter here (Click File->Download As...).
Can I register a group for the Encounter Conference?
Yes, you can register as a group for the Encounter Conference. There will be a $50 non-refundable deposit required per individual, payable by credit card or check. If paying by check, the deposit is due within a week of registration. The remaining amount will need to be paid, by credit card or check, by no later than April 16, 2015 – Click here to register a group(link coming soon).
How are roommates assigned?
A roommate survey will be sent via email 60 days prior to the conference. If all parties indicate a mutual interest in being roommates we will be able to accommodate this. If you are registering as part of a group, your group leader will receive a roommate spreadsheet.
What meals are provided?
A standard registration provides breakfast on Saturday and Sunday as well as lunch and dinner on Saturday.
How can I become a volunteer for the Encounter Conference?
Learn more about volunteering with us & sign up here!
Is this conference for me?
This conference is geared towards young adults, but there is no restriction on age other than being at least 9 months removed from High School graduation.
How do I get to St. Louis for the Conference?
You are responsible for your own travel to St. Louis for the conference.  The preferred airport to fly into is Lambert St. Louis International Airport.
Is there a shuttle to/from the airport?
Shuttle passes will be available for purchase at a discounted rate. Click here for more info.

Don’t see the answer to your question here? Let us know at encounterstl@archstl.org

Encounter 2015 is the first of its kind Catholic Young Adult conference – a collaboration between the Franciscan University of Steubenville Christian Outreach Office and the Archdiocese of St. Louis Office of Young Adult Ministry.

Whether you have or have not attended a Franciscan youth conference in the past, have no fear, Encounter will be an experience unique unto itself- designed specifically to help awaken the millennial generation to not only their own spiritual needs, but also the physical and spiritual needs of their neighbors.

Encounter will feature a team of dynamic keynote speakers, interactive breakouts (Impact Sessions), concerts & late night entertainment, and of course, opportunities to come together as a community of prayer.

The Christian Outreach Office at Franciscan University has an overall vision of “Teens to Eternity.” Their goal is to create conferences that will engage and assist Catholics in every phase of their spiritual journey. The Encounter Young Adult Conference is the next step in fulfilling that goal.

Over the past 38 years, hundreds of thousands of teens have attended a Steubenville Youth Conference. Many have asked, “What’s next after high school?” Sadly, many of these young adults fall away from practicing the faith with many never returning. The Encounter Young Adult Conference will create a place for those who are on fire for the Lord to find the fellowship and fuel to deepen their faith. It will also provide a door back into the faith for those who are struggling or simply seeking a deeper understanding of who God is and what it means to be a Catholic young adult.

With a dynamic team of young adult ministers leading the weekend, this engaging and interactive experience will meet young adults where they are.

Conferences Website
University Website

The Office of Young Adult Ministry strives to support and create a vibrant and visible community of Catholic young adults. We seek to challenge young adults to live out the Gospel call of Jesus to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28), while continuing to grow in their relationship with Christ and the Church. This ministry offers young adults the opportunity to grow in their spiritual life and form lasting relationships based on the call of Christ to holiness, community and service.

In addition to the Encounter Conference, we host a variety of programs under the active outreach of St. Louis Young Adults.

Office of Young Adult Ministry Website