Across the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the momentum for the National Eucharistic Revival’s Year of Parish Revival is strong. Recently, leaders from each parish in the diocese came together for an evening of collaboration with Jason Shanks, President of the OSV Institute and a member of the National Eucharistic Revival’s national team.
As the parish journey begins, the national office of the Eucharistic Revival has compiled and released small-group materials in English and Spanish titled “Jesus and the Eucharist.”
According to Kris Frank of the National Eucharistic Congress, “Jesus and the Eucharist” is a seven-week series created specifically for the Eucharistic Revival. Working in collaboration with the Augustine Institute, this study consists of teachings, testimony, and discussion questions geared to deepen our understanding and devotion to God and the Blessed Sacrament. Sessions 1-4 immerse participants in the kerygmatic proclamation, and sessions 5-7 will unveil God’s saving work in the Eucharist.
“The study is a great ‘out of the box’ solution for parishes and parish leaders,” Frank said. “They simply need to train table facilitators and a core team to implement the study, and then set up a hall (or small group room) and press play. Training has already been recorded and posted on the revival website for viewing. ‘Jesus and the Eucharist’ is for everyone; from the theologian who wants to refresh their knowledge on the Eucharist, to the individual who is curious to hear about the Church’s teaching on the Blessed Sacrament, this series was created with everybody in mind.”
Tanner Kalina, a Eucharistic Missionary with the National Eucharistic Revival, said the program is geared toward robust formation, one of the four pillars of the Year of Parish Revival.
“By offering parishioners across the country strong kerygmatic and Eucharistic formation, we pray parishioners will be led into deeper encounters with Jesus,” Kalina said. “When our minds can understand the Faith, our hearts can open to the beauty in front of us. Each session is no more than two hours.”
“This study is designed to be press and play,” Kalina continued. “A professional host in the video guides everyone, so parish leaders don’t have the pressure of providing formation or structuring an entire study themselves. They can focus on being present and forming personal relationships with the people around them.”
Frank said the primary goal of “Jesus in the Eucharist” is that those who partake in this series will offer the parish a renewed sense of formation around the Eucharist. “Further,” he said, “we also hope this small-group series will serve as a launching point for further small-group initiatives bringing about greater community within the parish.”
Kalina added: “In Acts of the Apostles, when groups of people had the Gospel presented to them, they caught on fire with the love of Christ and then went out and spread the Gospel to others. We hope this resource has a similar effect.”
St. Mary of the Assumption
Chris Langford, Eucharistic Revival Point Person for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, said the available materials should provide parishes with everything they need for recruiting a core team and table facilitators, as well as promoting the program in parishes across the diocese.
Some parishes throughout the diocese have begun planning study sessions for their congregation.
Ginny Kohrman of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Avilla was asked by Father David Voors, Pastor of St. Mary, to assist with the Eucharistic Revival in the parish. Kohrman has found the experience to be a lot of fun and a great way to get to know more parishioners. She and her fellow volunteers have several activities planned throughout the year.
“The church high altars have been repainted and the gold leaf trim on the altars repaired,” Kohrman said. “The interior of the church is so beautiful, and it was completed prior to our 40 Hours of devotions that took place August 13-15. In addition, the exterior of the church was tuckpointed, and the front steps of the church were repaired just in time for 40 Hours. There is an initiative in process to post Mass/confession signs within the church for parishioners and visitors. We are looking into the possibility of repairing or replacing our current parish sign to alert parishioners of parish and school events, including confession, adoration, and Mass times.
Father Voors has been instrumental in promoting most of this work with great assistance from parish members,” Kohrman said.
Another focus of the group at St. Mary is to reinvigorate the devotion of the Eucharist. This past Corpus Christi Sunday, June 11, the committee successfully implemented a Eucharistic procession after each of the three masses, so all parishioners had the chance to participate in the time of devotion and prayer.
“Following Corpus Christi, the Revival team asked Father Dave if we could have additional adoration times that might fit the needs of working families in the parish,” Kohrman said. “We began Eucharistic adoration times each Wednesday from 5-6 p.m. with Mass following. In addition, a Kingdom Builders Women’s Eucharistic Adoration group has been initiated at St. Mary’s with prayer and adoration times once a month. We are hoping to add Eucharistic adoration times during the day so that St. Mary’s students could spend prayer time before the Blessed Sacrament. During 40 Hour devotions, all children from the school spent time in the presence of Our Lord, either in silent prayer or in guided lectio divina,” Kohrman said.
In preparation for 40 Hours, the team chose 10 Eucharistic saints to study. Framed pictures of each saint are hanging on the church walls for viewing, and a biography of each saint will be included in Sunday bulletins over a 10-week period. Within the saint’s story is the recommendation to ask each Eucharistic saint to intercede according to their charism.
Parishioners at St. Mary flocked to the parish’s 40 Hour devotion, which was held in mid-August. Litanies, morning and evening prayer, and participation from schoolchildren were all part of the event. Bishop Robert Barron’s book, “This Is My Body,” was given to all parishioners who attended. Father Brian Isenbarger, Parochial Vicar at St. Vincent de Paul in Fort Wayne, was the main celebrant and homilist, delivering a powerful and inspirational message incorporating the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and the patronage of St. Mary of the Assumption on her feast day for the closing Mass.
The Eucharistic Revival committee at St. Mary has just begun watching the videos accompanying the “Jesus and the Eucharist” materials and hopes to implement a parish-wide study in the spring.
“Our parish is small and somewhat rural, so we are taking all of that into consideration in planning,” Kohrman said. “We are also looking at some other options for the fall and spring that were recommended by other revival teams.”
Queen of Peace
Michelle Szajko has been a member of Queen of Peace Parish in Mishawaka for 35 years and is part of the planning team that is working on various activities for the parish community.
“We recently held our 40 Hours devotion,” Szajko said. “Father Bill Meininger shared a reflection on each of the three evenings. We held various prayers, including daily Mass, sung vespers, each day we said the Angelus at noon and the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 p.m., and held a closing Mass the last evening with a small reception afterward,” Szajko said. “We also plan on having multiple small groups run the program ‘Jesus and The Eucharist.’ Our Eucharistic Revival core team is meeting every month to continue to see how we can serve our parish and help them grow closer to Jesus in the Eucharist.”
The “Jesus and the Eucharist” small-group materials are a welcome resource for the planning team, Szajko said.
“The materials are great. I have watched the first session and really enjoyed it,” Szajko said. “It is nice to have a free program that we can share with our parish to help them grow in their faith. Being able to download the videos for viewing and have supplied handouts really makes things easy.”
According to Szajko, in the coming weeks, the planning committee will begin small-group programs.
“Our team just wants to see people grow closer to Jesus,” Szajko said. “We are all at different points in our faith journey. Some of us are just getting started, and others need deeper enrichment. Meeting people where they are is important. It’s sort of like running a marathon: You have to train; you don’t just go out and run the full marathon. They can start with 10 minutes in adoration, or one decade of a Rosary. As they feel the effect it has on them, they will want to continue to do more. Before they know it, they are saying a Rosary every day or not wanting to leave adoration after an hour.”
To learn more about resources for formation during the National Eucharistic Revival, including the small-group study “Jesus and the Eucharist,” visit eucharisticrevival.org/formation-resources.
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