56 priests hit the road to “light a fire” in the Eucharistic faith

NEW YORK — Over the next three years, 56 American priests plan to travel the country on the front lines of the American bishops’ “national Eucharistic revival,” working to “light a fire” among the nation’s Catholics about the Eucharistic faith and devotion.

The priests are part of a nationwide initiative of Eucharistic preachers that is ongoing. This is part of the hoped-for National Eucharistic Renewal that officially begins on the feast of Corpus Christi on June 19 and culminates in a National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis in 2024.

Sister Alicia Torres, co-coordinator of the initiative, described it as “an essential contribution to the renewal of the Catholic faith” in the United States with a crisis of belief in the Eucharist.

“It’s just an objective fact that if [only] a minority of Catholics believe the Eucharist is Jesus, so objectively we have a crisis,” Torres said. Node. “We envision those priests going to dioceses who invite them to bring the message in a new way that our Lord is truly present in the Eucharist and that our relationship with him changes lives.”

The national crisis of belief in the Eucharist has been part of the momentum for national Eucharistic renewal after a 2019 Pew Research Center study found that the majority of Catholics do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the world. ‘Eucharist.

The format of the New Eucharistic Preachers Initiative also stems from research conducted by the U.S. bishops earlier this year. The research is not definitive and therefore remains unpublished, Torres said, but an early finding was that Mass goers “indicated that having a homily preached by a priest was one of their favorite ways and principals to learn to grow in their faith.”

Hence the national journeys of Eucharistic preachers.

The 56 priests come from a diverse group of dioceses and religious orders that span across the United States. They were identified for the role by their own bishop or religious superior “as dynamic preachers who had a special love for the Eucharist,” Torres said.

Dioceses can request a national Eucharistic preacher to come during their own diocesan year. Suggested events, according to the National Eucharistic Revival website, include gatherings for diocesan and parish leaders, special Masses and Eucharistic Holy Hours, youth and young adult events, clergy conventions and retreats, and Eucharistic assemblies.

Torres stressed that it’s not that all Mass worshipers actually understand what the Church teaches about the Eucharist, which is why it’s important to preach to them and not just to those who meet less often. on the benches. The hope, she said, is that reinvigorating a belief in the Eucharist among Mass worshipers will also inspire them to become Eucharistic missionaries.

“This is really important, and it must be recognized that we cannot assume that everyone in the pews believes what we really believe about the Eucharist, which is that it is truly and substantially the body, the blood, soul and divinity of Jesus through transubstantiation during Mass,” Torres says.

“And it is the people who are already coming who can then come out on the sidelines, reach out to those who are not coming to Mass and reach out to their family and friends,” she added. “We want to help form and provide opportunities for spiritual renewal to those who are already coming to Mass so they can feel equipped and confident to be part of this renewal.”

The National Eucharistic Preacher Initiative is the first of multiple initiatives that Torres has acknowledged is underway as part of the National Eucharistic Renewal. From the fruit of the initiative of the Eucharistic preacher will be born an initiative of Eucharistic missionaries involving more lay faithful who will identify themselves to carry in their own way the message of the Eucharist in their local parishes and on the margins.

Torres further noted that another hope is that as we approach the parish year of Eucharistic Renewal in June 2023, the hope is that bishops will be asked to identify other priests in their own dioceses to perform the work of a Eucharistic preacher in tandem with the laity. missionaries.

“It’s certainly a very bold undertaking to say that we want to help inspire revival in the United States of America around the Eucharist, but of course the word revival also implies the grassroots, so it’s not something that an institution is going to plan and make happen,” Torres said. “It’s going to come up from the grassroots.

Follow John Lavenburg on Twitter: @johnlavenburg

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