The first of three Eucharist-themed Regional Ministry Gatherings kicked off Oct. 5 at Our Lady of Victory Church in Fergus Falls with Crookston Bishop Andrew Cozzens giving the keynote presentation.
The theme of Bishop Cozzens’ talk was “Living the Eucharistic Revival in our Lives” and focused on the process of the Eucharistic Revival and how people can practically apply it to their daily lives.
Before the event began, there were opportunities to participate in various forms of prayer and venerate relics on display in an alcove of the church of Blessed Carlo Acutis and St. Manuel Gonzalez Garcia, patrons of the three-year National Eucharistic Revival that began in June.
In his talk, Bishop Cozzens focused on four areas: how the Revival came about, its goals, its plans, and how one can help.
“I just want to begin with this truth. We’re doing a Revival, and a Revival is a work of the Holy Spirit. It’s not a human work, it’s a work that God has to do, and it’s a work that God has to do in our hearts,” said Bishop Cozzens, who is leading the Revival at the national level.
He started by explaining the history of the Revival, recalling a 2019 Pew study that reported that only 30% of Catholics believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
He said it was Bishop Robert Barron, then chair of the Committee for Evangelization and Catechesis for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who originally had the idea to start a eucharistic ‘renewal’ movement. In November 2020, Bishop Cozzens became chair of the committee and was tasked with building the movement. He consulted with Church leaders, asking, ‘If we are going to do a national revival, what would it look like?’
That ‘what would it look like’ is answered in two parts: first, Bishop Cozzens said the Revival is meant to start a fire, not just be a program. The second is to work toward the long-term missionary conversion of the Church.
“The Revival is going to happen when local people, people like yourselves, decide to be involved and start to pray about, ‘What can I do?’” Bishop Cozzens said.
He then addressed the goal of the Revival, which he said is “to renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.”
Bishop Cozzens identified five strategic pillars of the Revival. The first pillar is to foster encounters with Jesus through proclamation and experiences of Eucharistic devotion. He explained how having personal encounters with Jesus is crucial.
He offered the example of how in the Gospel of John, John writes that “it was four in the afternoon” after John the Baptist, seeing Jesus walk by, proclaims, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God’ (John 1:36). Bishop Cozzens asked why John mentioned the time so specifically.
“Because he remembers the exact moment everything changed, the moment from his life would never be the same,” Bishop Cozzens said. “Part of this Revival is we want to do that encounter. … We want to help people to realize that this kind of transformational encounter is possible.”
The second strategic pillar of the Revival is teaching on the Eucharist. While Bishop Cozzens stressed the importance of teaching, he mentioned that the greatest teaching of all is that of a witness.
“Faith is something that happens through witnessing, not through facts,” he said.
He told the story of how a female broadcaster from Japan, who was Buddhist at the time, was sent to do a story on Mother Teresa, and after witnessing the saint and her reverence for the Eucharist, the woman not only converted to Catholicism, but became a Missionary of Charity herself.
“The witness is key,” Bishop Cozzens said.
The third pillar is to partner with movements, apostolates, institutions and parishes.
“We recognize if this just simply falls on the bishops and the priests and those who work for the Church to get this done, it’s not going to happen. A Revival in fact depends upon the hearts of all those who are in love with the Eucharist, and so we want everyone to be engaged and involved,” he said.
The fourth pillar is reaching the smallest unit: parish small groups and families, and the fifth pillar is drawing upon and embracing the “various rich intercultural eucharistic traditions.”
“The Catholic Church is the most diverse organization in the United States. … The largest gathering of Catholics every year is the Vietnamese Catholics who gather in Missouri for Marian days. 100,000 people gather,” he said.
After discussing the five pillars, Bishop Cozzens spoke about the National Eucharistic Congress, happening in July 2024 in Indianapolis.
“This national event is an opportunity for all of us who are on this pilgrimage to gather. And to gather for what? For Revival … to gather so we might be strengthened and transformed,” he said.
Bishop Cozzens also mentioned that before the Congress, a eucharistic pilgrimage will take place, starting on four ends of the country and will meet in Indianapolis for the Congress.
His keynote concluded with a time for questions from those present in the audience. Questions ranged from “How long should we pray?” to “Do you have any advice for priests?”
Bishop Cozzens’ talk was available via livestream or in-person in Fergus Falls. Some parishes in the diocese hosted watch parties, including a group of middle- and high-schoolers who watched from St. Joseph in Bertha, a part of the Mary Mother of the Church Area Catholic Community.
“The group of teens that I talked to are really looking forward to participating in the pilgrimage of the Eucharist and they would love to make it to the National Eucharistic Conference,” said Victoria Bulcher, discipleship site director for St. Joseph’s.
Bulcher said the group discussed the livestream after.
“It sparked conversation about different times that they had recognized Christ in the Eucharist. We had a few teens that had been to a Steubenville conference that shared how moving the adoration was,” she said.
The next Eucharistic-themed Regional Ministry Gathering will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, with Daniella Zsupan-Jerome, director of ministerial formation and field education at St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary in Collegeville, giving the keynote.
To register or learn more about local efforts regarding the Eucharistic Revival, visit https://stcdio.org/eucharistic-revival.