Plans for initiating a national eucharistic revival next year were presented at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ spring meeting June 18 by Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens of St. Paul and Minneapolis, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis.
The three-year initiative, “Eucharistic Revival: My Flesh for the Life of the World,” proposes to invite U.S. Catholics of all ages to become part of a national movement “to renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist,” Bishop Cozzens explained.
The evangelization committee began discussion of a National Eucharistic Revival after a 2019 Pew Research study indicated that up to 69% of Catholics don’t believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. Planning was delayed due to COVID-19 limitations, and Bishop Cozzens cited the impact the pandemic has had on Catholics as another reason for initiating a national revival at this time.
“Right now, the Church in the United States needs the healing and the unity that can flow from rekindling our love for the Eucharist,” Bishop Cozzens said. “We need to rekindle the love of our people so they can become missionaries and reach out to the margins as we are called to do by ‘Fratelli Tutti,’ Pope Francis’ 2020 encyclical.”
The plan calls for dioceses to form teams in the spring of 2022 to participate in formation opportunities provided by the evangelization committee by the summer of 2022. The committee plans to establish a national corps of “eucharistic preachers,” provide online training for “eucharistic missionaries” and create national and social media campaigns. Dioceses are encouraged to plan diocesan-wide days of adoration, eucharistic evangelization and service events through June 2023.
Parish leaders will participate in training in the fall of 2022 to begin offering formation and worship events at the parish level by July 2023. “Eucharistic missionaries” from parishes will be sent out to evangelize and serve those in need. The committee proposes to provide free catechetical resources.
In the final year, the plan proposes to celebrate a nationwide revival with a Eucharistic Congress for all Catholics in June 2024 and a national revival in December.
“We hope at the end of these three years, we will have formed and sent more than 100,000 missionaries who are ready to share the love of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist with our world,” Bishop Cozzens told the bishops.
The goal of executing a National Eucharistic Congress was included in the USCCB’s 2021-2024 strategic plan, “Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope.”
FIVE PILLARS OF THE EUCHARISTIC REVIVAL
- Foster encounters with Jesus through kerygmatic proclamation and experiences of eucharistic devotion.
- Contemplate and proclaim the doctrine of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist through the truth of the Church’s teaching, the beauty of the Church’s worship and goodness of a life of service.
- Empower grassroots creativity by partnering with movements, apostolates, educational institutions and parishes.
- Reach the smallest unit: parish small groups and families.
- Embrace and learn from the various rich intercultural eucharistic traditions.
PROPOSED TIMELINE FOR THE EUCHARISTIC REVIVAL: MY FLESH FOR THE LIFE OF THE WORLD
JULY 2021-JUNE 2022
The Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, led by Bishop Andrew Cozzens of St. Paul and Minneapolis, continues meeting with representatives of USCCB committees on doctrine, vocations, divine worship, Hispanic affairs, pro-life, Catholic education, and marriage, family life and youth. The committee forms and engages with renewal movements and apostolates to provide events in dioceses. A corps of eucharistic preachers is created for speaking at diocesan and regional formation events for diocesan leaders, and online training for lay “Eucharistic missionaries” is created.
JULY 2022-JUNE 2023
Diocesan leaders and priests participate in diocesan level formation events and prepare for training of eucharistic missionaries in the fall of 2022 for the parish revivals. Bishop Cozzens said, “Dioceses could have Corpus Christi celebrations, days of adoration and reconciliation, as well as days of eucharistic evangelization and service.”
JULY 2023-JUNE 2024
The revival happens in parishes, with the assistance of “eucharistic missionaries,” who Bishop Cozzens described as “parish lay leaders who could help to organize and carry out the revival at the parish level, sent forth to evangelize and serve those in need.”
JUNE 2024-DECEMBER 2024
Finally, the revival becomes a national event, with a goal to “animate and strengthen those missionaries who return to their diocese and parishes” and the sending of those missionaries to the margins to invite people into our “eucharistic communities,” according to Bishop Cozzens. A National Eucharistic Congress for Catholics of all ages is proposed for June 2024 and will be presented for approval by the bishops in November. A celebration of a national revival is planned for December 2024.
HISTORY OF EUCHARISTIC CONGRESSES IN THE UNITED STATES
- The First Eucharistic Congress in the United States was held in Washington, D.C., in 1895, according to the Sept. 28, 1895, Sacred Heart Review.
- The first International Eucharistic Congress on U.S. soil was in Chicago in 1926. An estimated 500,000 people attended Mass at Soldier Field. As many as one million were at the closing Mass at Mundelein Seminary.
- Pope Pius XI addressed the crowd by radio at the Cleveland National Eucharistic Congress in 1935. More than 500,000 people attended.
- The National Eucharistic Congresses in New Orleans in 1938 drew more than 500,000 people.
- The New York Times reported that “more than a million Christian pilgrims from every continent were expected” at the 41st International Eucharistic Congress in 1976 held in Philadelphia. St. Teresa of Calcutta and St. John Paul II, then archbishop of Krakow, attended.
DID YOU KNOW?
- St. Paschal Baylon, a 16th-century Franciscan friar from Spain, was declared the “Seraph of the Eucharist” and the patron of all eucharistic congresses and associations by Pope Leo XIII in the late 17th century.
- Budapest, Hungary, will host the next International Eucharistic Congress from Sept. 5 to Sept. 12, 2021, postponed from 2020.