SAN DIEGO —- Registration for this weekend’s Steubenville San Diego Youth Conference had to be closed off early this year when the numbers topped 4,200.
"We had to close it off 20 days after we opened," said Bob Schrimpf, chairman of the annual Roman Catholic youth conclave that has attracted more than 10,000 young people since it began four years ago.
High school students from throughout the nation were flocking into housing today through Sunday at San Diego State University, where the three-day program is being held, and at the University of San Diego.
The local gathering is one of a dozen held around the country every year for young people "to get rocked by God, to get serious about life in Christ and his church, and to learn the truth about the Gospel," according to organizers of a conference earlier this summer that drew more than 1,000 young people to Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio —- the birthplace, 30 years ago, of the Franciscan University Youth Conferences.
The mission of this outreach program is to "evangelize youth through large conferences and events … At the heart of the conference weekend are the sacraments, through which young people can receive the Father’s loving mercy, forgiveness and healing compassion."
These conferences have also become fertile ground for recruitment to the priesthood, said Schrimpf, who’s been a featured speaker at several events around the country over the years.
"It was edifying to hear the authentic conversions at all levels," said the Rev. Anthony Saroki, the San Diego Diocese vocational director. Last year’s conference was the first he attended, shortly after being ordained, he said.
He said this conference, "which is the biggest event of this kind of event in the region" is "fertile ground for planting the seeds for priesthood." He is scheduled to conduct breakout sessions to help young men heed the calling of priesthood.