PROVIDENCE —The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has recently launched the National Eucharistic Revival, a movement to restore understanding and devotion to this great mystery in the United States.
The USCCB voted overwhelmingly at its semiannual general assembly in November 2021 to advance plans for a National Eucharistic Revival.
The National Eucharistic Congress will be the first one in the United States in almost 50 years. It aims to draw, by way of pilgrimage, more than 80,000 Catholics into an event of preparation, equipping the faithful as “Eucharistic missionaries” to go out to the existential and physical margins of society emboldened with the flame of divine charity to be the hands, feet, and heart of Christ in the world.
Acknowledging a troubling 2019 Pew Research Study which indicated that 70% of Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence, Bishop Andrew Cozzens, chairman of the board of the National Eucharistic Congress, affirms the timing of the Revival.
“We are really aware in these times that we live that the Church needs to become more missionary. The culture itself doesn’t support what we do anymore as Catholics,” Cozzens notes. “All Catholics are invited into a renewed encounter with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, especially those Catholics who don’t fully understand the power of the Eucharist.”
As people are seeking deeper connection more than ever before, “this is a time not to be ashamed of the Gospel but to proclaim it from the rooftops,” the bishop added.
Father Phillip Dufour, assistant pastor of St. Philip Church in Greenville, has been named the coordinator of the initiative in the Diocese of Providence.
As a committee continues to come together to assist in planning this endeavor on the local level, Father Dufour shared his enthusiasm for the graces that will surely come from the Eucharistic Revival in Rhode Island.
“I think it’s such a needed and necessary initiative that the USCCB has given during this time. It’s one of the most essential things we can do as a church in the U.S., to reclaim a reverence for and belief in the Eucharist,” he said.
The divine opportunity of the Eucharistic Revival allows three years for discernment, encounter and grassroots response on the diocesan, parish and individual levels.
Year One (June 2022-June 2023) is the Year of Diocesan Revival in which U.S. bishops respond to the Lord’s personal invitation and empower their presbyterates and parish leaders to host events with a Eucharistic focus.
These events include Eucharistic Congresses and designated days for formation and reflection. Trained pastors comprising the National Eucharistic Preachers initiative have also been commissioned to speak at diocesan events.
Father Dufour shared that his goal will be to have the diocesan phase culminate in a Eucharistic procession on the Feast of Corpus Christi at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, Providence. He added that there will continue to be special events and opportunities for faith formation for the lay faithful as well as the clergy.
“It is important for us, the clergy, to renew our belief and love for the Eucharist. If we don’t have that we can’t pass it on,” explained Father Dufour.
Year Two (June 2023-June 2024) is planned as the Year of Parish Revival.
Individual pastors will engage their staff and parishioners with community-specific activities and events such as catechetical formation on the Real Presence of Christ, opportunities to better understand and enter more deeply into the Paschal Mystery through the celebration of the Mass and extended opportunities for Adoration and Reconciliation.
Father Dufour shared that this will be the most crucial and important phase of the Eucharistic Revival.
“This is where the rubber meets the road,” he said. “So much of our faith formation as Catholics happens at the parish level. It will be necessary for all the clergy to come together to really spearhead this. It’s going to take all of us working together to further this Eucharistic Revival.”
Year Three is the Year of the National Eucharistic Congress and Missionary Sending and commences with a National Eucharistic Congress set to take place July 17-21, 2024, in Indianapolis.
“Once our faith has been renewed it is only then that we can go out and have this missionary sending,” said Father Dufour. “It is very important to spread the message of the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist to those who have fallen away, who don’t know, or who have forgotten.”
“Just in my short time as a priest I have witnessed people who have a great love for the Eucharist, people who are so in love and so devoted to our Lord in the Eucharist. I have also seen the opposite. There’s such a lack of understanding of Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist as well as a lack of reverence. We need a renewal and we need a revival. We need to have an understanding of the source and summit of the Christian life. This is a beautiful opportunity for everyone to take advantage of the graces God will bestow on all of us.”
Look for continued coverage of the Eucharistic Revival as well as upcoming events in Rhode Island Catholic.