Local parishes called to form ‘Eucharistic missionaries’ as revival moves toward participation in cross-country pilgrimage
By Christina Gray
Parishes are in the driver’s seat during the second year of the National Eucharistic Revival.
As the first year of the three-part initiative concludes this June and transitions into the second, the focus will shift to parish formation of “Eucharistic missionaries” ready and eager to go forth to share the mystery at the heart of the Catholic faith.
“Eucharistic revival is about starting all these small local fires of faith,” said Tim Glemkowski, a layman tapped by the U.S. bishops to organize what is designed to be a believer bonfire of the National Eucharistic Revival: the 10th National Eucharistic Congress on July 17-21, 2024.
More than 80,000 Catholic pilgrims are expected to traverse the country in four Eucharistic processions from points in California, Minnesota, Texas and Connecticut. They will converge at Indianapolis, Indiana’s Lucas Oil Stadium on July 17, 2024.
According to eucharisticcongress.org, new pilgrims are expected to join in the processions all along the way, if only for part of the journey, to encounter the risen Christ in an unprecedented, public way.
The National Eucharistic Revival is a three-year, grassroots initiative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It launched nationally on June 19, 2022, the feast of Corpus Christi. The bishops hope the initiative will restore and reinforce the essential Catholic devotion to the mystery of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
The Diocesan Year, which will conclude on June 11, 2023, has been a time of prayerful preparation of clergy and lay leaders. It also included presentations by Eucharistic preachers, online workshops on Eucharistic miracles, easy access to schedules of Eucharistic Adoration throughout the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and other activities designed to foster a renewed devotion to the Eucharist.
The Parish Year will officially begin in San Francisco one day after a local Eucharistic Congress on June 10 at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption. The one-day event will feature popular speakers on the topic of the Eucharist. The event will include keynote speaker Archbishop Emeritus J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, along with Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It concludes with a Eucharistic procession through the streets of San Francisco.
Attendance at the local Eucharistic Congress is free and open to all Catholics in the Archdiocese, some of whom will also be pilgrims in the cross-country National Eucharistic Procession in the spring of 2024. Visit sfarch.org/eucharistic-revival/ for more details.
Father Nicholas Case was appointed chairman of the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s Eucharistic Revival Committee by Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone. The parochial vicar of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Belmont said that how individual pastors choose to foster Eucharistic encounter and devotion during the Parish Year will be largely up to them and the resources available to them.
It’s not a “cookie-cutter strategy,” said Father Case. Pastors will be encouraged to promote the natural bond of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. During Eucharistic speaker events held during the Diocesan Year, he said, “we heard confessions the entire time.”
Capuchin Father Michael Mahoney, pastor of Our Lady of Angels Parish in Burlingame, said he is focusing on “in-depth catechesis on the Eucharist,” beginning with first and second-graders preparing for their first Holy Communion, and their families.
Just recently he organized what he called a “Teaching Mass” for grade two students and their parents.
“I explained every aspect of the Mass to them, focused on the Eucharist itself, the Eucharistic prayers and their meaning, and the transformation during the Eucharistic prayer,” he said.
He plans to do the same thing with his entire parish soon at every Mass on what he will call “Catechesis Sunday.”
The National Eucharistic Revival is coming from the Church at an “apostolic” moment in its long history, said Glemkowski, a time when he says we have “more in common with the early Church than at the height of Christendom.”
“The prevailing mentality in our culture now is that we have to really invite people into relationship with Jesus,” he said. “We can’t just presuppose faith because people grew up Catholic or Christian.”
In August 2019, a Pew Research Center survey revealed a majority (69%) of self-identified Catholics believe that the bread and wine used at Mass are merely “symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” It is no less disheartening to know that many Catholics in the study were unaware of the faith’s most central belief that Jesus is truly, substantially present in the Eucharist under the appearances of bread and wine.
As the Church grapples with how best to elevate the faithful’s understanding of the Eucharist in these turbulent times, he said, “it’s critical that our mission comes from our Catholic identity found in Jesus and the Eucharist.
Glemkowski said registration opened for the 10th National Eucharistic Congress in February, and that space is going fast. Go to eucharisticcongress.org for registration and additional information.
“This is not just about being part of a gathering so we can just ‘feel good’ about who we are,” he said. “It’s about wanting to fall in love with the Lord more so He can send us out on mission for the life of the world. I think God is going to do something very powerful there.”
Visit sfarch.org/eucharistic-revival/ to learn more about Eucharistic Revival in our Archdiocese.
National Eucharistic Congress Pilgrimage
May 18 – July 16, 2024
Each route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage will begin on Pentecost weekend (May 18-19, 2024) and arrive in Indianapolis on July 16. Sundays will include major Eucharistic processions and minor processions will take place during the week as pilgrims walk 10-15 miles a day from parish to parish. Stops will be made at Catholic universities. Pilgrims can engage in service projects on Saturdays. Parish events along the way include 40-hour devotions, holy hours, pilgrim testimonies and lectures on the Real Presence.
Register for the National Eucharistic Congress at eucharisticcongress.org/register.
Visit www.eucharisticcongress.org/pilgrimage for more on the Eucharistic Pilgrimage routes.
Christina Gray is the lead writer for Catholic San Francisco.