Thirsty for the spirit of the Eucharist: 17 delegates will travel to the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis July 17-21

The Diocese of St. Cloud is commissioning 17 delegates to the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis, Indiana, July 17-21. This is the first NEC to be held in 83 years.

Noelle Aguilera, one of the 17 and a student at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, is attending the Congress on behalf of younger Catholics.

Noelle Aguilera

“Today’s generation is thirsty for the spirit of the Eucharist, for God’s love,” she said. “I look forward to witnessing the revival of Eucharistic passion. I can’t wait to learn how to share its joy with others.”

Through her job in campus ministry, she wants to make the Eucharist more accessible to her college community, to encourage people to attend student Masses. The Congress also is deeply important to her on a personal level.

“The Eucharist has been the point that keeps me in the faith. It’s my comfort. When I think of home, I think of resting before the Eucharist in the tabernacle. This Congress is God’s gift to spread the incomprehensible blessing of his eucharistic self; for that I am ecstatic! It’s important that I represent that desire and let God bring our generation closer to the Eucharist,” Aguilera said.

Hansol Goo is an assistant professor of liturgical and sacramental theology at Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary and also teaches at the College of Saint Benedict. She sees how the NEC builds on the long-standing collaboration of the School of Theology with the St. Cloud Diocese and extends it into the bigger ecclesiastical context of the U.S. Catholic Church.

Dr. Hansol Goo

“As a sacramental theologian, I look forward to meeting Catholics from all over the nation, listening and learning about the life stories within which American Catholics experience the sacramental life of the Church,” Goo said.

“Celebration of the Eucharist is at the heart of the community life for students, faculty and staff at the School of Theology and Seminary, which is fundamental for the Benedictine value of education of the whole person. I am certain that the spirit of the nationwide Eucharistic Revival will affirm and renew the school’s foundations in the Benedictine tradition, in the present and for the future.”

One of the priests on the delegation is Father Ben Kociemba, pastor of parishes and a Catholic school in the Haven of Mercy ACC which includes Belle Prairie, Little Falls, Flensburg, Randall and Sobieski.

“My parishes are in both rural and bigger town settings. It’s important to attend this so that I can continue to encounter Jesus myself within the context of the Church and be able to open myself up to how the Lord seeks to form me to minister to the people of God in our modern day and diocese,” Father Kociemba said.

Father Ben Kociemba

In addition to spending time with the delegation team, he is eager for the NEC’s help with networking, support and fresh insights.

“Encountering Jesus with others happens in different ways — in worship, workshops, fellowship, relationships and travel. I will see some of my own parishioners there. I anticipate a rich experience of the Lord. I also look forward to coming back to our diocese and being on mission to make disciples by leading them to our eucharistic Lord,” Father Kociemba said.

“It is always such a powerful experience to join Catholics across the country. You get a sense of the universal Church — it greatly inspires you to live the Christian calling when you know others are trying to do the same. It reminds you of the goal of heaven and what it may be like when you join the saints. It renews your courage to live the day-to-day call of discipleship and vocation. It becomes a way that others may experience your joy and witness so that they too might be built up!” he said.

The complete list of delegates includes Aguilera, Goo, Father Kociemba, a father and son — Russ and Deacon Joseph VanDenheuvel (Deacon Joseph is a seminarian for the diocese), DCCW representative Jean Zwilling and her granddaughter Abigail Zwilling, a married couple — Alejandra and Deacon Mario Mancilla, Saint John’s University student Andrew Withuski, Franciscan Sister Cordy Korkowski, Father Derek Wiechmann, Tricia Walz, Benedictine Father Efrain Rosado, and diocesan staff members Eric Gohmann, Janet Dusek and Brenda Kresky.


Pray for the delegates and all those attending the Congress


Lord Jesus Christ, you give us your flesh and blood for the life of the world, and you desire that all people come to the Supper of the Sacrifice of the Lamb. Renew in your Church the truth, beauty and goodness contained in the Most Blessed Eucharist.

Jesus living in the Eucharist, come and live in me.

Jesus healing in the Eucharist, come and heal me.

Jesus sacrificing yourself in the Eucharist, come and suffer in me.

Jesus rising in the Eucharist, come and rise to new life in me.

Jesus loving in the Eucharist, come and love in me.

Lord Jesus Christ, through the paschal mystery of your death and resurrection made present in every Holy Mass, pour out your healing love on your Church and on our world. Grant that as we lift you up during this time of Eucharistic Revival, your Holy Spirit may draw all people to join us at this Banquet of Life. You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Eucharist, pray for us.

Are you attending the NEC or know someone who is? We want to hear about it! Contact Kristi Anderson at and share your experience.

Author: Nikki Rajala

Nikki Rajala is a writer/copy editor for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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