EL CENTRO — Imperial Valley Catholics gathered at the St. Mary Parish Center to both mull over the Vatican-approved International Exhibition of Eucharistic Miracles display there — designed by Blessed Carlo Acutis — and learn about the Real Presence of Jesus at Mass in a talk by Auxiliary Bishop Ramón Bejarano on Sept. 20.
The 81-panel exhibition features 4-by-3-feet, full color panels — printed on front and back — which highlight images and information about approximately 137 Eucharistic Miracles throughout the world, from countries such as Italy, France, Poland, the Caribbean Islands, Perú, and Mexico, among others.
The hanging panel exhibit will be on display at St. Mary Church in El Centro from Sept. 17 to 25, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. The exhibition was put together by Blessed Carlo Acutis when he was between the ages of 10 and 14.
The exhibition coincides with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ three-year initiative, the National Eucharistic Revival, being held to counteract the lack of understanding among Catholics about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Bishop Bejarano said during his presentation on the Eucharist in the Mass.
“The bishops in the U.S. are inviting all of us to truly enter into a deeper reflection and precise understanding, as Catholics and Christians, especially those people who don’t understand the sacramental presence of Jesus in the Eucharist,” the bishop said.
Everyone in the Church “should become a missionary of the Eucharist,” he added.
That’s what the exhibition coordinators for St. Mary’s, Betty Kakiuchi and Irma Ortiz of Our Lady of the Valley, have taken to heart.
Kakiuchi said she learned about the exhibition in an advertisement in The Southern Cross announcing that it would be presented at Mary, Star of the Sea Parish in La Jolla. She reached out to the parish coordinator, who placed her in contact with Richard Bernatchez, a Catholic presenter who gives free presentations and exhibitions on the scientific studies conducted on the Shroud of Turin, near-death experiences, and Eucharistic Miracles.
Kakiuchi also contacted JP2 Catholic Radio, which connected her with Carlsbad resident Jon Kern, who owns the hanging board display now on loan at St. Mary Church.
While Kern’s hanging display and Bishop Bejarano’s presentation will inform local adults, Bernatchez will also be giving presentations at local Valley parishes and three of the Valley’s four Catholic schools: Our Lady of Guadalupe Academy in Calexico, St. Mary’s School in El Centro, and Sacred Heart School in Brawley.
Ortiz said it is “all related to the Eucharist. We have to concentrate on the Holy Eucharist because, as Catholics, it is the main source and summit of our faith.”
“We have all of these different groups, vocations, and different experiences that we have here in the Valley, but I think the main thing that we can have, the best prayer that we can offer to God, is the Eucharist,” she said.
“Sometimes, we forget about that. Sometimes, we don’t go to Mass and appreciate what we really have in that Jesus is there,” she said. “We need to take advantage of the great miracle that we can have every day when we go to Mass.”
The bishop had advice for those who doubt the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
“Be honest … and say, ‘Jesus, I don’t really believe that You are present there, but if You are present there, show me.’ I know the Lord will hear that sincere prayer, and something will happen.”
“The best thing that we can do is always live the celebration of the Mass with all our heart. And, if you don’t believe in the Real Presence, then just give it a chance,” he continued.
“Try your best, and maybe God will surprise you. God is a God of surprises.”