One of the elements of the on-going Eucharistic Revival is becoming more deeply educated about the truths of this life-giving mystery at the heart of the Church. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, one of the primary leaders of the National Eucharistic Revival, sought to address this need personally by leading formation days on each end of the diocese. The first of these occurred on Saturday, Jan. 14, at St. Charles Borromeo, Fort Wayne, where more than 500 faithful gathered to participate.
The formation event for the South Bend area will take place at St. Pius X, Granger, on Saturday, Feb. 11.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church emphasizes that to every bishop, “Christ has entrusted the office of teaching, sanctifying, and governing in His Name and power.” As the spiritual leader of the diocese who also served as professor and rector at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary, Bishop Rhoades expressed his desire to instruct and explain the scriptural, theological, and historical treasures of the mystery of the Eucharist.
Bishop shared three presentations on aspects of Eucharistic doctrine essential for growing in reverence and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament: understanding the Eucharist as Sacrifice, Presence, and Communion. Each of these talks were designed not only to provide knowledge, but also to lead the Catholic faithful into greater love for God by seeing more clearly the immensity of the Lord’s love for His Church.
Between the talks, Bishop celebrated a votive Mass of the Most Holy Eucharist, accompanied by Eucharistic-themed sacred music from choir members of St. Charles. Deacon Robert Lortie, recently ordained to the permanent deaconate, assisted and proclaimed the Gospel at Mass. Afterwards he shared, “the experience of the day brought forth the importance of my new vocation”, explaining “how necessary it is in preaching and setting an example for parishioners to keep the Eucharist central in everything I do.”
Megan Quigley, parishioner at St. John the Baptist, Fort Wayne, and Assistant Director of the Assisi Scholars Program at the University of St. Francis, recounted that “It was inspiring to see so many people gathered out of love for Jesus in the Eucharist and a desire to go deeper.” She emphasized that celebrating Mass with Bishop and so many people across the city brought his talks to life in a tangible way and that the liturgy “was such a fitting experience, with such gorgeous music, to have as the center of the day and was a beautiful reminder of our unity in Christ.”
The event also included an exhibit on Eucharistic Miracles, revealing how throughout history and across continents, God has revealed the truth of His presence in the Eucharist through physical phenomenon, such as the appearance of Our Lord on the host or it turning into literal blood or heart tissue — verified through scientific testing — for the purpose of strengthening the faith of those struggling to believe in Him. These types of miracles have occurred at least four times around the world since the year 2000.
Chris Langford, Diocesan Eucharistic Revival Point Person, expressed his gratitude for the overall day, saying, “I thought the event was fantastic! Bishop’s talks were outstanding, captivating, and full of excellent content. The graphics of his presentation were engaging and the Eucharistic Miracles exhibit drew a lot of attention. I was also grateful we were able to accommodate those who were auditorily challenged, with sign language interpreters arranged by Allison Sturm, Ministry Specialist for Persons with Disabilities and the Deaf. Additionally, I thought the turnout was great and was another healthy sign of our diocese that so many would give up almost a full Saturday for this!”
Parish and school leaders were encouraged to attend to grow in spiritual knowledge and become better equipped for ministry. Dennis Wiegmann, Principal of Queen of Angels School, Fort Wanye, asked each of his school teachers to attend if they were able.
Wiegmann shared, “Spiritual professional development is just as important, if not more important, than strictly educational development in our Catholic Schools. Administrators are allotted extra days that can be used as “teacher only days.” After speaking with the pastor, Fr. Spenser St. Louis, we agreed to use one of the days for this formation because the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Faith. If we do not have a full understanding of the true presence, then who better than the shepherd of the diocese to educate us?” I thoroughly enjoyed all three talks, however the last one that highlighted the teaching of divinization (what it means to share in the divine life of God) was particularly amazing! Others who I have spoken with about this here said the same thing.” When asked what he thought his staff would take from the experience, he responded, “I am sending them that exact question and will be curious to get their answers. My hope is that they found this as an opportunity to catechize our students on the importance of the Eucharist.”
Jill Henderson, one of Wiegmann’s teachers, provided a response to his question on the spot. She expressed, “Our Eucharistic Formation Day with Bishop Rhoades was enlightening and was time well spent! His inspirational stories really allowed for greater understanding and prayerful contemplation of the depth of Christ’s love for us.” She continued, “my students engage in several research-based writing assignments that involve the beauty, truth, and goodness of our Catholic Faith. After listening to Bishop Rhoades, I am excited to have my students research and write about Eucharistic miracles involving saints!”
Tommy and Pam Lapsley, parishioners of Our Lady of Good Hope, Fort Wayne, shared another reason why this was such a special event. They exclaimed, “we are truly blessed that we have such close proximity to one of the men leading this revival for the entire nation. Bishop is our father in faith. We are blessed for him to take the entire day — twice — to speak about this and share real world application of this mystery! It is invaluable.” Tommy added, “every time I hear him speak, I receive something new … every time! While it was a large event, it was also an intimate setting and it felt very personal.”
Parker Zurbach and his wife Maria serve as catechists and youth ministers at St. Joseph, Garrett. He likewise expressed appreciation for the pastoral effort of Bishop Rhoades to educate and evangelize our diocese. He emphasized, “we are so fortunate to have one of the bishops who helped craft the national document on the Eucharist as our own spiritual father. I would love to see him do more teaching events like this because he seems so alive when he teaches; it is apparent that he is a catechist at heart.”
Tony Staley, a parishioner at St. Pius X who knew he would have a schedule conflict for Bishop’s South Bend event, chose to drive up for the Fort Wayne conference with his wife Carol. He shared that he came to understand the Eucharist in new way, adding, “Today was a once in a lifetime opportunity! I implore all you brothers and sisters to attend this same retreat on Feb. 11 at St Pius X in Granger. Today our beloved shepherd guided us to hear how the One who created everything gives us everything by offering His Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist.”
Registration is open for the Eucharistic Formation Day at St. Pius X in Granger, and can be found at diocesefwsb.org/eucharist/. Cost is $10 and includes morning refreshments and lunch. All are welcome.
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