July 10, 2024 // Bishop

Experience the Church Like Never Before at the National Eucharistic Congress

After Years of Preparation, Tens of Thousands of Catholics Are Set to Gather for Five Historic Days in Indianapolis

(OSV News) – “I think my heart is going to explode,” said Montse Alvarado, describing the way she expects to feel when she gathers with tens of thousands of Catholics to adore the Eucharist at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium. “It feels like so much beauty at a moment when our country and our world is in the midst of war and so much pain, just to see this be our Church’s response – wow, what a witness.”

An Invitation from Bishop Rhoades

Bishop Rhoades invites all the faithful of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend to join him and staff members from Today’s Catholic and OSV for a reception at the National Eucharistic Congress on Friday, July 19, at the Indiana Convention Center Exhibit Hall at the OSV Booth (No. 506) from 4-5 p.m.

The first event of its kind in the United States in more than half a century, the National Eucharistic Congress is expected to draw more than 40,000 Catholics to Indianapolis from July 17-21 for five days of prayer, speakers, liturgies, and worship, all centered on Jesus in the Eucharist.

Speakers showcase a “who’s who” in Catholic evangelization, including Bishop Robert E. Barron of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, who is the founder of Word on Fire; Father Mike Schmitz of the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota, host of “The Bible in a Year” podcast; Sister Josephine Garrett, a member of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and host of the “Hope Stories” podcast; and Jonathan Roumie, who portrays Jesus in “The Chosen.”

The event is the pinnacle of the National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year initiative the U.S. bishops launched on Corpus Christi Sunday in June of 2022 to renew Catholics’ love for and understanding of Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist.

Alvarado, EWTN News President and COO, and one of three emcees for the congress’s daily “revival sessions,” told OSV News on Friday, June 21, that she expects the congress to be a source of American Catholics’ spiritual unity, strengthened identity, and renewed vigor through the Holy Spirit.

“I’m excited for people to connect with the Church,” she said, and “for the Church to encounter itself.”

The congress begins on the evening of Wednesday, July 17, in Lucas Oil Stadium with the first of the four evening revival sessions, with Eucharistic adoration, speakers, and worship music. The event opens with a major procession with the 30 young adult “perpetual pilgrims” from all four routes of the eight-week National Eucharistic Pilgrimage. The pilgrims set out with the Eucharist on Pentecost weekend from points in California, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Texas to meet in Indianapolis for the congress, covering a combined 6,500 miles – many of them on foot – as they encountered Catholics at parishes and other sacred and secular sites for Mass and other worship experiences, Eucharistic processions, and fellowship.

The congress’s opening procession will culminate in Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, entering the stadium with the Eucharist in a “massive” monstrance designed for the congress, leading to a time of silent adoration. Then participants will hear from Bishop Cozzens and the evening’s other keynote speakers, including Cardinal Christophe Pierre, the Holy See’s Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, and Sister Bethany Madonna, a Sister of Life.

As with each congress evening’s revival session, Alvarado will be emceeing along with Sister Miriam James Heidland, a sister of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity and co-host of the “Abiding Together” podcast, and Father Josh Johnson, a priest of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and host of the “Ask Father Josh” podcast. Worship will be led by Dave and Lauren Moore, the founders of Catholic Music Initiative.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday have similar schedules. The days begin with Relevant Radio’s Family Rosary Across America with Father Rocky Hoffman, followed by Mass, with English, Spanish, and youth options, celebrated by key American prelates such as Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, and Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory of Washington.

Following Mass, attendees are encouraged to remain in the stadium or head to the adjacent Indiana Convention Center for one of seven “impact session” tracks being held in both locations. With names such as Encounter, Renewal, and Empower, each track is tailored for particular audiences – including ministry leaders, families, youth, and priests – and features well-known Catholic leaders, experts, and speakers.

Afternoon breakout sessions on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday dive into a range of topics, from apologetics to social action, with more than 40 speakers throughout three days.

Varied styles of liturgies will be offered Thursday and Friday afternoons, with options including Masses in English and Vietnamese (Friday only), as well as Byzantine Divine Liturgy and Mass according to the 1962 Missal (widely known as the “traditional Latin Mass”) offered at nearby parishes.

A key congress highlight is Saturday’s 3-5 p.m. Eucharistic procession through downtown Indianapolis, which is expected to make a visual and spiritual impact on the city.

On Wednesday to Saturday, revival sessions begin in Lucas Oil Stadium at 7 p.m. Thursday’s keynote speakers are Father Schmitz and Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart, Founder and Servant Mother of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth in the Archdiocese of Boston. Friday’s speakers are Sister Josephine and Father Boniface Hicks, a Benedictine monk of St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and the Friday event will include prayer for healing and reparation as well as a Eucharistic procession.

Saturday’s revival speakers are Bishop Barron, Roumie, Catholic media personality Gloria Purvis, and Tim Glemkowski, who is the current CEO of National Eucharistic Congress Inc., the nonprofit organizing revival events, especially the congress and pilgrimage. Catholic musician Matt Maher will lead worship during Eucharistic adoration.

On Sunday, the congress’s final day, the revival session is in the morning, with speakers Mother Adela Galindo of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, who founded a bilingual “religious family” of religious sisters and brothers, priests, and laypeople; and Chris Stefanick, Founder of Real Life Catholic.

As the event draws near, Glemkowski said he is excited to watch it unfold.

“There’s movement and energy, and it’s focused on Jesus, and we’re asking for the Holy Spirit to fall on the Church in a new way,” he told OSV News on Wednesday, June 26. “The communion of the Church is going to be so powerful and prominent.”

Speaking to fellow bishops on Friday, June 14, at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Spring Plenary Assembly in Louisville, Kentucky, Bishop Cozzens, Board Chairman of National Eucharistic Congress Inc., pointed to the encouragement Pope Francis gave congress organizers when they met with him in June of 2023.

“I’m reminded and encouraged often by the words of our Holy Father to us,” Bishop Cozzens told the bishops. “’The National Eucharistic Congress,’ he (Pope Francis) said, ‘marks a significant moment in the life of the Church in the United States. May all that you’re doing be an occasion of grace for each of you, and may it bear fruit in guiding men and women, throughout your nation, to the Lord who, by His presence among us, rekindles hope and renews life.’”

The congress kicks off the National Eucharistic Revival’s third year, the Year of Mission, which encourages Catholics to intentionally accompany someone on his or her faith journey back to the Catholic faith through its “Walk with One” initiative.

The year also invites Catholics to become Eucharistic missionaries, which would take them, Bishop Cozzens said, “deep into the mystery of the Eucharist” and how that affects their life. Bishop Cozzens’ book on the topic, written with Glemkowski and titled “For the Life of the World: Invited to Eucharistic Mission,” was published in June by OSV.

The July congress is the 10th National Eucharistic Congress, occurring 83 years after the Ninth National Eucharistic Congress in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“We won’t wait another 83 years before the 11th National Eucharistic Congress,” Bishop Cozzens told the bishops. “We all know that the work of renewing the life of the Eucharist in the Church is a generational work. Many countries have regular national Eucharistic congresses, including places like Italy and Mexico.”

The next U.S. national congress may be in 2033, Bishop Cozzens said, in honor of the “year of redemption” – the 2,000th anniversary of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Catholics who have only recently felt moved to attend the Eucharistic congress need not wait another nine years, however; Bishop Cozzens told bishops that day passes and hotel rooms are still available for the congress in Indianapolis.

“For five days, Catholics are going to take over a 1 1/2-square-mile radius of downtown Indianapolis,” Glemkowski said. “I’m so excited for people to come and just have that experience of, ‘Oh, this is a huge deal, like, this is a big thing that’s happening in this city.’ You’re going to spend five days wrapped in the communion of the Church in a way that I think a lot of us are going to miss when it’s over.”

Maria Wiering is Senior Writer for OSV News.

Six Things to Expect at the Congress

(OSV News) – More than 40,000 Catholics have registered for the National Eucharistic Congress, the pinnacle of the U.S. bishops’ National Eucharistic Revival. Organizers expect the July 17-21 congress, held in Indianapolis, to be a watershed moment, igniting American Catholics’ belief in and devotion to Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist. Here are six things to expect. For the full schedule, visit eucharisticcongress.org.

1. Lots of People

As of late June, around 40,000 people had registered for the congress’s five-day pass, with thousands more signed up for single-day passes. That puts the congress’s attendance, especially for its weekend events, close to Lucas Oil Stadium’s 45,000-person capacity for this style of an event, said Tim Glemkowski, CEO of National Eucharistic Congress Inc.

With this many people in one space – and the congress events spread over the expanse of the stadium and adjacent Indiana Conference Center – Glemkowski suggested attendees not focus on packing their personal schedules, but rather make time for rest and reflection.

“Take care of your human needs, and don’t try to overdo it,” he said. “Let the Lord lead you through an experience of a day instead of trying to maximize and be sort of everywhere.”

2. Mass, Adoration, and Processions

The Eucharist is the heart of the congress, which kicks off on the evening of Wednesday, July 17, with a “revival session” – the first of five daily gatherings in Lucas Oil Stadium focused on Eucharistic adoration and worship. Wednesday’s revival session opens with a huge Eucharistic procession that connects the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage with the National Eucharistic Congress itself.

Another major procession is planned for the afternoon of Saturday, July 20, in downtown Indianapolis, and children who have recently made their first Communion are invited to wear their first Communion attire.

Meanwhile, Mass will be offered morning and afternoon in multiple rites and languages. Throughout the congress, perpetual adoration will be held across the street from the Indiana Convention Center at the historic St. John the Evangelist Church, which Glemkowski described as the congress’s “spiritual hub.” St. John is holding evangelistic, nighttime prayer events following the congress’s revival sessions, as well as offering other forms of hospitality, including coffee and food, throughout the congress.

3. Speakers and Musicians

The congress brings together more than 50 popular Catholic speakers, leaders, media personalities, and musicians under one roof for five days. Household names such as Bishop Robert E. Barron, Father Mike Schmitz, and Jonathan Roumie are speaking during evening revival sessions, with Grammy-nominated musician Matt Maher leading worship on Saturday night.

While many of the speakers are popular in Catholic circles, they were chosen because of their gifts in connecting a personal encounter with Jesus to mission, Glemkowski said.

“We have remarkably well-known, impactful people in the Church gathering for this moment,” he said. “Everyone is just trying to … lend their gifts and their support to this moment of renewal.”

4. The Arts and Exhibits

Also at the congress will be several exhibits related to Jesus and the saints, a musical theater performance, and programming for kids and families, as well as a dynamic expo hall.

The National Shroud of Turin Exhibit features a replica of the famous burial shroud believed to have covered Jesus in the tomb and invites viewers through a high-tech experience to consider what it terms the “world’s greatest mystery.” The Eucharistic Miracles Exhibit, originally created by soon-to-be St. Carlo Acutis (a special intercessor for the Eucharistic revival), explores Eucharistic miracles around the world. Meanwhile, a chapel with relics from Blessed Carlo and other saints associated with the revival – such as St. Manuel González García and St. Paschal Baylon – will be open for prayer and veneration.

On Thursday, “Bernadette de Lourdes, the Musical” – a theatrical performance about the Marian visionary of Lourdes, France – will be staged in Lucas Oil Stadium at 6:30 p.m. ahead of the evening’s revival session.

Meanwhile, an expansive expo hall in the convention center will be open each day with booths and displays featuring apostolates, ministries, religious orders, publishers, and “makers of all types,” according to organizers.

5. Service

An encounter with the Eucharist should spur the Church to seek out the “least and the lost,” Glemkowski said, which is why several outreach opportunities will be highlighted at the congress. On Thursday and Friday, attendees can pack meals for people who are hungry with the Indianapolis-based Million Meal Movement. The Denver-based Christ in the City will also train small groups of people to encounter men and women who are chronically homeless in Indianapolis.

6. Commissioning

Between a morning revival session and a closing Mass, the final day of the congress on Sunday, July 21, includes a “great commissioning,” which organizers compare to “a new Pentecost,” where attendees “will be sent out to joyfully proclaim the Gospel in every corner of our nation.”

The congress kicks off the National Eucharistic Revival’s third and final year, the Year of Mission, where Catholics are invited to accompany Catholics no longer practicing the faith back to the Church, and to grow more deeply in their understanding of what the Eucharist requires of their own lives.

The U.S. bishops’ Walk with One initiative encourages Catholics to recognize “the one person over the next year that you’re uniquely being sent to on mission,” Glemkowski said.

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