During this year of parish Eucharistic revival, Rhode Island Catholic is pleased to offer a series of articles where different people — lay persons, religious, and priests — and tell us about their faith and devotion to the Eucharist, their thoughts on the Revival, and more. Rhode Island Catholic recently sat down with Father Phillip Dufour, the diocesan coordinator for the Eucharistic Revival and pastor of St. Theresa Parish and St. Christopher Parish in Tiverton, to discuss what parishes can do this year.
Can you tell us about the different parts of the Revival?
So the first year of the Revival took place from 2022-2023, and the focus was on the diocesan level. Across the country, dioceses held events that focused on different elements of Eucharistic devotion, from large Masses to Adoration, retreats, lectures and more. Here in the Diocese of Providence, we opened with a Holy Hour and Solemn Vespers at St. Philip’s in Greenville. In February of 2023, we held a Young Adult Eucharist Formation Retreat at Christ the King in Kingston. We had a Lenten mission of weekly Holy Hours where Bishop Henning spoke, confessions were offered. And this past Lent, we held an Advent Mission that featured Father David Mary Engo, O.F.M., a renowned preacher who spoke at three parishes in the diocese.
We are currently in the second year of the revival, which is all about renewing and revitalizing Eucharistic devotion in parishes. This, in my opinion, is the most important stage. The average Catholic encounters the Eucharist at their parish. Their schedules might not allow them to attend a diocesan event, for example, so it is vital that we offer opportunities at the parish level. The third and last part is the missionary stage that will take place from July 21, 2024 – Pentecost 2025. Having been revitalized in our Eucharistic faith, we will go out—be sent out like the first disciples—to share that Eucharistic faith in love and works of charity.
Can you tell us about the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage as well as the National Eucharistic Congress?
So, just like the first disciples went out and spread the Gospel, people will have the opportunity to walk across towns and cities bringing their love for the Eucharistic Lord along the way. This is taking place from May 17, 2024 – July 16, 2024. There are four routes pilgrims can take, all of which end at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana where the National Eucharistic Congress will be. The Congress will run from July 17–21, 2024. 80,000 Catholics will come together for a unique opportunity to pray together, learn about the Eucharist, attend workshops, Masses, Eucharistic Adoration, and more.
Who is this Revival for?
Everyone! And I think it’s important to note that the Revival is not just for the laity. It is just as much for priests, deacons, religious brothers and sisters and the bishops. We need our Eucharistic faith and devotion revitalized just as much. We must recommit ourselves to the Eucharist.
So practically speaking, what are the best things a parish can do during this “Parish phase”?
A monthly Holy Hour is a great start, perhaps in the evenings so folks can come after work or school or whatever other commitments may be. And I think it’s important to offer confessions as well. I know a good few parishes in the Diocese do this already, and that’s good. But I think pastors in adjoining towns can meet and say “Ok, you offer it on Tuesday night, I’ll offer it on a Thursday,” that way folks have options. People are busy nowadays, so we need to fit their schedules as best as possible.
how will the Sacrament of Confession play a role in this Revival.
Simply put, if we want a Eucharistic Revival, we need a revival of the Sacrament of Confession. Confession is the sacrament of God’s infinite mercy. It is not a place of judgment and condemnation but of freedom. Unfortunately, many Catholics have stopped going to Confession. Perhaps out of fear. Perhaps because of a bad experience. But folks today are hurting. We live in a very divisive time. So confession is the first place we should come and receive God’s forgiveness. From there, having been absolved of our sins, we are better able to receive the graces offered in the Eucharist.
A recent Pew Research Poll shows that only about a third of Catholics believe in the real presence. What can be done to better educate people on the Real Presence?
A few things, I think. First, for priests, liturgy isn’t something to be played with, so the celebration of mass should be reverent and taken seriously. It should not be “casual,” but beautiful. Second, we can use homilies as a means of “teaching” the Eucharist, but a homily is limited by time, and we have to cast a wide net when we preach. So, for example, a series of reflections, perhaps in the bulletin, on the Real Presence can be a place where we get into the finer details, so to speak. And of course what you’re doing with these articles is another great idea! Rhode Island Catholic readers will greatly benefit from hearing from others about their faith and devotion to the Eucharist. Lastly, we also need to form our faith formators, those who are doing the teaching and handing on the faith. Not that they don’t believe in the Real Presence; rather, that their love and devotion to the Eucharist can grow and be passed on even more.
how might technology play a role in the Revival?
Yes, I think technology, when rightly used, can play a role. There are so many good podcasts out there to help with one’s faith: Bible in a Year, Catechism in a Year, Pints with Aquinas, and more. FORMED is an online apostolate of the Augustine Institute that offers movies, children’s programs, eBooks, audio and more. These are great tools that families can use at home to foster a Eucharistic faith.