The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

Editor's Reflections— The Eucharistic Congress and the Missionary Year

Authored by Dr. James Pauley in Issue #10.3 of Catechetical Review

28th International Eucharistic Congress Archive Images

Catholics in the United States have a long history of hosting both national and international Eucharistic congresses. The first of these was in Washington, DC, in 1895, and the last was in Philadelphia in 1976. If your ancestors were Catholic and lived in North America, they may have participated in one of these congresses—in St. Louis (1901), or New York (1904), or New Orleans (1938), or another of the 11 congresses to date. I’ve been thinking lately about the congress that took place in Cleveland in 1935. My grandparents were in the area at that time, and as believing Catholics it’s a good bet that they went to this congress and that it was a profound experience for them. These congresses—spanning across generations, and for many of us across our family histories—have been catalysts of faith and have played an important role in the Catholic history of the United States. 

In 1987, I was able to see both St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Calcutta in person in Phoenix. I’ve also gone to two World Youth Days (in 1993 and 2000). I will never forget these large events and how they have shaped me. Of course, this is to be expected, since the visible gathering of many Catholics around Jesus in the Eucharist expresses in a unique way the Mystical Body of Christ and is truly a foretaste of heaven. On my two pilgrimages to World Youth Day, we had long bus rides after the closing Mass. Using the bus microphones, teenager after teenager gave powerful testimony to how they experienced the goodness and the love of God and how they wanted to live in a new way. 

While the United States has hosted Eucharistic congresses before, this is the first year that a walking Eucharistic procession across the country has been planned. And there are four of these—taking place right now! These walking pilgrimages are roughly forming a cross shape of blessing over our country. This is one way that we Catholics are asking the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to bless and transform our country. There is much national discussion these days about the diminishment of Catholic faith in our current cultural circumstances. The walking pilgrimages and the Eucharistic Congress are tangible ways we can step forward and publicly express our love for Jesus in the Eucharist and our love for the Catholic faith. And such a public profession will strengthen our faith—and the faith of others, too. If there is any possible way you can participate in the pilgrimages or the congress in Indianapolis from July 17–21, it is (perhaps) a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bear witness to Jesus in a way that will have tremendous evangelistic power in our broader society. 

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This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting [email protected]

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