By Dave Jolivet
FALL RIVER — With the increasingly disturbing trend of fewer Catholics believing in the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has initiated a three-year grassroots Eucharistic revival to assist Catholics to rediscover the true source of the Catholic faith — the true presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist and the need for a deeper devotion to and love and appreciation for this gift of all gifts from the Almighty Father.
Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., has embraced the movement and will inaugurate the Diocese of Fall River’s involvement and commitment to it with a special event on the weekend of the Feast of Corpus Christi (the Body of Christ) with a Mass followed by a Eucharistic procession and Adoration on June 18 beginning at 4 p.m. at Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River.
In an invitation on the Fall River Diocese website (fallriverdiocese.org), the bishop writes: “By first receiving the Eucharist — the true presence of Christ in real and substantial matter — we are transformed into the Body of Christ, the Church. Without it, we cannot be the individuals, the Catholics, nor the Church God calls us to be.
“In a phrase, the Eucharist is essential to discipleship, and therefore to evangelization. Therefore, we must make a priority the evangelization of Christ’s Eucharistic Presence, which we encounter at Mass and then live out as Church in society by being ‘commissioned’ to go out at the end of Mass.
“To this end I invite all people to take part in this Eucharistic Renewal for our Church.”
The website tells readers that the U.S. bishops “believe that God wants to see a movement of Catholics across the United States, healed, converted, formed, and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist — and sent out in mission ‘for the life of the world.’”
David Carvalho, diocesan Secretary for the New Evangelization told The Anchor, “Right now, there is a diocesan team planning the revival, including clergy and lay leaders. We’ve also reached out to leaders of different apostolates and ministries in the diocese. Anyone interested in how they can participate or who want to help can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
“During the onset of the pandemic, we learned what it was like to be without the Eucharist. It’s fitting that now the bishops in the United States are asking us to refocus on the Eucharist, especially at a time when our world continues to suffer division and violence. The Eucharist both heals and renews us. If we want to see our world, our churches, and our families healed and renewed, turn to the Eucharist.
“Without the Eucharist, we can’t live as Church; we’ll fall apart, and we’ve seen that happen over the years. By calling all of us as Catholics to refocus on the Eucharist, this revival is an opportunity to relearn how to live as Church after the past few years; to be a renewed Body of Christ.”
From April 3-6, in Chicago, Bishop Andrew Cozzens, who is in charge of the Eucharistic Revival for the USCCB, hosted a part-retreat, part-workshop for the priests who will serve as national Eucharistic Preachers to catalyze the revival. Father Roger Landry, interim editor of The Anchor, was nominated by Bishop da Cunha to serve as a Eucharistic Preacher.
“The U.S. bishops are well aware of the crisis in Eucharistic faith that we are witnessing in our parishes and among Catholic family members and friends. The surveys show that nearly 70 percent of Catholics believe that the Eucharist is a symbol rather than the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus,” Father Landry told The Anchor. “Many Catholics have not returned to Mass after the pandemic restrictions. Many were not coming prior to the pandemic. This obviously has a massive impact on the health of our parishes, parish schools and catechetical programs, and so much more. The Church lives off of the Eucharist and if most in the Church are not living Eucharistic lives, then much of Christ’s mystical body is voluntarily cutting itself off from the Lord himself and the strength He seeks to give us.
“But the bishops are seeking to do something very bold in response to the crisis and to revivify Eucharistic knowledge, love, amazement and living. The ultimate goal is to form the whole Church — priests, religious, lay people — to recognize the extraordinary gift we’ve been given and to equip every part of the Church infectiously to pass on that wisdom, passion, awe and way of life.”
Speaking about the efforts in the Diocese of Fall River, Father Landry said, “The future of the Church in our diocese will depend upon the strength of our Eucharistic life. Jesus in the Eucharist is the source and summit, the root and center of Catholic life. Everything else flows downhill. That’s why Bishop da Cunha is wisely making it such a priority and why it’s so important for all of us to join him in that revitalization effort, with all the gifts and creativity God has given us.”
Studying Pew Study trends and the understandable fall-off in church attendance during the pandemic, the U.S. bishops were moved to action for such a revival, magnified by the fact that many have still not returned to the pews. This has accelerated the bishops pro-active response to the crisis facing today’s Church.
The revival is themed, “My Flesh for the life of the world/Mi carne para la vida del mundo,” taken from John’s Bread of Life Gospel.
In the revival website, eucharisticrevival.org, the bishops explain that “The Eucharistic Revival is not a step-by-step plan or a series of meetings; it is a grassroots call and a challenge for every Catholic across the United States to rekindle the fire of love and devotion for the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus.”
The plan is to extend to every Catholic diocese, parish, school, apostolate, ministry and family an invitation to be part of the renewal be reawakening a real, living relationship with Christ in the Eucharist.
The revival will officially kick-off on the Feast of Corpus Christi, June 19, 2022. For the following three years, dioceses will host various Eucharistic events, including, but not limited to, Eucharistic Congresses and processions. The bishops are calling for inauguration of or an increase in the availability of time for Eucharistic Adoration.
The hope is that families and friends will gather in small groups to share, learn and pray with and for each other; and that, “filled with the flame of charity from the reception of Jesus in the Eucharist, missionary disciples will go to the margins, recognizing the mystery of Jesus’ presence in the poor.”
The three-year revival is scheduled to conclude with the first National Eucharistic Congress in the United States in nearly 50 years. The event, to be held July 17-21, 2024 is hoped to draw thousands of Catholics from across the country to “journey on pilgrimage to Indianapolis [Ind.] to personally encounter Jesus in the Eucharist and be sent back out into their parishes and communities.”
The revival timeline is broken down into four subcategories:
— June 19, 2022 — Feast of Corpus Christi, Launch of the Eucharistic Revival;
— June 19,2022 to June 11, 2023, Diocesan Year of Eucharistic Revival, which will include:
• Collaborating with renewal movements and apostolates to promote the Eucharist diocesan-wide;
• Offering free catechetical resources from the USCCB, both online and print;
• Social media campaign focusing on Eucharistic saints, such as Blessed Carlo Acutis;
• Formation events for priests, as well as parish leaders;
• Diocesan evenings of Adoration and Reconciliation in Catholic schools and parishes; and Corpus Christi celebrations.
— June 11, 2023 to June 17, 2024, Parish Year of Eucharistic Revival, that includes:
• Continued collaboration with renewal movements and apostolates to animate parish Eucharistic activities;
• Training for small group leaders in every parish;
• Catechetical resources, video and print, for small group formation sessions for all ages and stages of faith;
• Teaching Masses, adoration initiatives, sacramental Confession, and Corpus Christi celebrations in parishes;
• A Diocesan Eucharistic Congress among all ages to conclude the Parish Revival phase.
— July 17-21, 2024, National Eucharistic Congress, Indianapolis, Ind.
— July 17, 2024 to Pentecost 2025, Year of Going Out on Mission that includes:
• Four-day, three-night event with activities for all ages during the day and large events in the evening;
• Engaging national youth and young adult apostolates to participate;
• A possible national coast-to-coast Eucharistic procession (pending USCCB planning).
For further information and updates, regularly visit the diocesan website at www.fallriverdiocese.org/national-eucharistic-revival/ and the national site at eucharisticrevival.org.
To RSVP to the event, visit https://www.fallriverdiocese.org/national-eucharistic-revival/