By Marcia Moore
The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with one another is the theme of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress being held next June in Dublin, Ireland. Catholics from all parts of the world will gather in Dublin to celebrate their faith and the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist.
When I learned of the congress, I was excited for a couple of reasons. First, I had the privilege of being a part of the team that planned previous Eucharistic Conferences here in the Diocese of Davenport under the leadership of Father (now Bishop) Robert Gruss and, second, Ireland holds a rich history of our Catholic faith. There are countless grace-filled opportunities which await those who are able to visit the historical and holy sites.
Many people have questions about a Eucharistic Congress. For example; what is it? Why do we need to have it? How did it get started? And, why would I want to go?
The congress website tells us the following: “The first Eucharist was a moment of particular intimacy, between Jesus and His disciples. It involved gathering around a table, talking and listening, giving and receiving; word, bread, wine and washing of feet. The whole event was communion. The event comes to an end, but the communion continues.” And, “The Eucharistic Congress is intended to make manifest ‘the central place of the Eucharist in the life of the Church and in her mission pro mundi vita’” (Second Vatican Council, Statutes, Art. 16). (www.IEC.2012.ie)
The very first Eucharistic Congress was held in France in 1881. As popularity grew, the number of people attending increased and the congresses continued. Soon a committee for the Organization of Eucharistic Congresses was established and the eighth congress was held in Jerusalem in 1893. Currently, congresses are held every four years in host cities such as Rome, Quebec City and Guadalajara most recently.
The Dublin congress promises to be as great as ever with some speakers already confirmed including: Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga, president of Caritas Internationalis; and Brother Alois Durer, prior of Taizé, France.
A eucharistic procession through the streets of Dublin is planned and daily themes focus on various topics such as exploring and celebrating ministry, exploring and celebrating Communion, suffering, exploring and celebrating the Word of God, and Mary as a “hearer of the Word” par excellence.
While daily sessions and workshops will be held at the Royal Dublin Society, one of Dublin’s most popular places for conferences and public events, the closing liturgy known as the Statio Orbis, will take place in Croke Park Stadium where Gaelic Games are held and which has a capacity of over 82,000.
The answer to the above question; ‘Why do we have to have it?” is best answered in one sentence: the congress “links faith and culture, with a particular focus on the gathering of people of every nation, language and way of life around the table of the Lord.” (ibid)
The conference logo, shown in bright colors depicting people around Christ in the Eucharist, is based on the Scripture: “(people) from every nation, race, tribe and language” (Rev. 7:9) being drawn together in communion as “one body” formed by faith in the person of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, and the sacrifice he made upon the cross. (ibid)
Why would I want to go? To celebrate the wonderful gifts of my Catholic faith, especially the Eucharist in communion with other Catholics from around the world!
(Editor’s note: Marcia Moore is director of the ministry of Eagles’ Wings, which is hosting a pilgrimage to Ireland and includes attendance at the congress next June. She can be reached at 563-324-7263).