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Journey ‘to Deepen our Love for Eucharist’

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PUBLIC WITNESS: The National Eucharistic Revival called on dioceses and parishes to organize events to highlight the Eucharist, like this procession on June 26, 2022, in San Diego. As part of that initiative, the 10th National Eucharistic Congress will be held from July 17 to 21 in Indianapolis. Attendance is expected to be in the tens of thousands, with San Diego-area Catholics among the crowds. (Photo by David Maung.)

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SAN DIEGO — It’s been 83 years since a National Eucharistic Congress has been held in the United States.

To put that in perspective: The last time that such an event took place on U.S. soil, the country had barely recovered from the Great Depression and was still about five and a half months away from being drawn into World War II.

The 10th National Eucharistic Congress will be held from July 17 to 21 at Lucas Oil Stadium and other nearby venues in downtown Indianapolis. Attendance is expected to be in the tens of thousands, with San Diego-area Catholics among the crowds.

More than 70 local Catholics, who registered through the Diocese of San Diego, will join Cardinal Robert W. McElroy and Auxiliary Bishops Ramón Bejarano, Michael Pham and Felipe Pulido in Indianapolis. Other Catholics from San Diego and Imperial counties may have made arrangements independently of the diocese.

The five-day Eucharistic Congress will begin with a procession.

A series of keynote talks and breakout sessions are scheduled. Speakers will include Bishop Andrew Cozzens, who has spearheaded the National Eucharistic Revival; Cardinal Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States; Bishop Robert Barron of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries; Father Mike Schmitz, host of the popular podcast “The Bible in a Year”; and Catholic actor Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus on the TV series “The Chosen.”

There will be daily Masses in various languages and liturgical styles, including the Byzantine Divine Liturgy and Syro-Malabar Qurbana; a perpetual adoration chapel; frequent opportunities for confession; musical performances; an expo hall where ministries, publishers, religious orders and others will have displays; and more.

A Eucharistic procession in downtown Indianapolis will be one of the highlights on the penultimate day, and the event will conclude with a “commissioning” of participants and a closing Mass celebrated by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines, a special papal envoy to the congress.

“One of the main purposes of the Congress is to help all of us to grow in our knowledge of Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist, but especially to go deeper into that mystery,” said Bishop Bejarano, who was tapped by Cardinal McElroy three years ago to lead the Eucharistic Revival at the diocesan level.

The bishop said that the goal of both the Revival and the Congress is to transform participants into “Eucharistic missionaries,” who will return to our communities and share the message “that Jesus is real, that Jesus is alive, and that Jesus is present in the Eucharist.”

Bishop Bejarano acknowledged that the approximately 75 San Diegans known to be attending the Eucharistic Congress represent a small percentage of the almost 1.4 million Catholics living in the Diocese of San Diego.

“But, somehow, we know that even one person can make a difference,” he said, expressing his hope that the Eucharistic Congress will have a “ripple effect” that will be felt in local parishes.

Several local Catholics, who are preparing to attend the Eucharistic Congress, shared their thoughts and expectations

“There is no other place that I can think of that I would like to be on July 17 than the National Eucharistic Congress,” said Carlos Ortiz, 65, of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Imperial, who will be attending with his wife, Irma.

Irma Ortiz, 63, said that she was “so excited” to take part in “this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“I am sure that I won’t be the same when I come back to my Imperial Valley,” she said.

Patricia Paredes, 65, of Corpus Christi Parish in Bonita, said, “Through engaging with speakers, participating in liturgies, and sharing in the communal experience, I look forward to acquiring a more profound reverence and gratitude for the Eucharist.”

“In the end,” she said, “I hope (the Congress) will spark a widespread renewal of faith and a deeper commitment to the transformative power of the Eucharist across the country.”

Deacon Alan D. Pangilinan, 65, also of Corpus Christi Parish, hopes that his participation in “this historic event” will make him more effective at evangelization.

His wife, 66-year-old Estrella S. Pangilinan, views the upcoming Congress as “an invitation from our loving God.”

“I need to answer His call to join our sisters and brothers to leave everything behind and set out on a journey of discovery,” she said. “This would be a journey of true love – the Sacrament of Love, the Eucharist.”

Rose Musico, 58, of The Immaculata Parish, decided to attend because she wanted “to be a part of the Holy Spirit’s plan to ignite this nation and win souls for Our Eucharistic Lord.”

“Count me in!” said Musico, who is confident that she and her fellow participants will be graced with “renewed zeal and love for Our Lord.”

If the Eucharistic Jesus is present in the tabernacle of the nearest Catholic church, why travel to Indianapolis to be with Him?

Jim Moore, 74, of Mission San Luis Rey Parish in Oceanside, has an answer to that.

“We do encounter Jesus in our local parish church, but all of us are also called to share the Gospel message with others,” he said. “This Congress will bring together experts who can teach us, and fellow travelers from all over the country, about ways we can better connect with others as we invite them to consider bringing Jesus into their lives.”

“I look forward to meeting people of faith from all over the country, learning from them and praying with them, as we participate in the Congress sessions,” said Moore, who hopes that returning participants will “carry a common message back home and thus energize the Church in America to welcome others as we deepen our love for the Eucharist.”

Maria Valencia, an associate director in the diocesan Office for Life, Peace and Justice, will also be attending the event. She expressed hope that she might have a transformative experience there like that of the Apostles when they received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

“Jesus is always with us because He loves us,” said Valencia. “However, this (Congress) will be a unique experience to share the table with thousands of brothers and sisters from different cultures and to pray together.”

“Attending the Congress and seeing the enthusiasm and faith of the attendees will reenergize my heart to keep serving those who are in the peripheries,” she predicted.

For Clarisa Gomez, 67, of The Immaculata Parish, the chance to attend the Eucharistic Congress was “an invitation I couldn’t turn down.”

“What a special opportunity! I look forward to bringing information back to our parish,” she said, explaining that the synod small-group discussions held at her parish last year made it clear that parishioners wanted more formation on the Eucharist.

She said that she is “hoping and praying” that the Congress also will “somehow unify our Church,” both at the national and diocesan levels.

“We are so divided as a country and as a Church,” Gomez lamented.

In terms of the fruits that he would like the Congress to produce, Bishop Bejarano said, “My hope is that (participants are) going to take away a deeper and greater love of the Eucharist, and that they will … be able to be witnesses of the gift of the Eucharist for others here in our diocese, so that we can help our diocese to grow also in that fire of love for Jesus in the Eucharist.”

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More information is available at eucharisticcongress.org.

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