The World

Valeria GavilanesThe Eucharist allows us to feel and discover God who liberates us".

Quito is the venue of the next International Eucharistic Congress, which is celebrating its 53rd edition and has as its theme "Fraternity to heal the world".

Maria José Atienza-March 7, 2023-Reading time: 8 minutes
Gavilanes Eucharistic Congress

The Catholic Church in Ecuador has its sights set on September 2024. From September 8 to 15, 2024, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Consecration of Ecuador to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Ecuadorian capital will host the 53rd International Eucharistic Congress.

Valeria Gavilanes, press officer of the International Eucharistic Congress and IEC2024 spokesperson, pointed out to Omnes that this congress "will allow us to rethink the reality of the Catholic world in Latin America, respecting its diversity. It is necessary to re-evangelize through service, following the example of Jesus".

Quito takes the baton from Budapest for the next International Eucharistic Congress. What steps have been taken in the preparation of the Congress?

-In a solemn Eucharist held in Budapest in September 2021 and presided over by Monsignor Alfredo José Espinoza Mateus, sdb, Archbishop of Quito and Primate of Ecuador, it was publicly announced that the Ecuadorian capital will be the site of the 53rd International Eucharistic CongressIEC2024, to be held from September 8 to 15, 2024, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Consecration of Ecuador to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

From that moment on, we have put our foot on the accelerator so that such a blessed event can be carried out with the height it deserves. The theme proposed and chosen by Pope Francis is "Fraternity to heal the world", with the biblical text: "You are all brothers" Mt 23:8.

We know that spiritual preparation is fundamental and for this reason we have the preparatory prayer in Spanish, English, Portuguese, Italian, Shuar and Quichua, which can be found in the different digital platforms.

Also the official anthem of the Congress will be ready very soon; the melodic and musical proposals were submitted to a contest and the winner will receive the amount of USD 3,000.00. There is a jury that is finalizing the details.

A meeting of such magnitude requires a previous organization. The Local Committee is presided over by Monsignor Espinoza, who appointed Fr. Juan Carlos Garzón, of the Archdiocese of Quito as secretary general, in charge of coordinating and supervising the preparation of the Congress.

In addition, the following commissions were formed: logistical, financial, theological, liturgical, musical, communicational, cultural, pastoral and volunteer work. For its part, the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference is committed and has delegates in the different jurisdictions and provinces of the country.

We are walking this path hand in hand with the Pontifical Committee. Corrado Maggoni and Fr. Vittore Boccardi, president and secretary of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, respectively, who were happy and amazed by the beauty of our country as well as the warmth of its people.

How are you making yourself known, inside and outside Ecuador?

-It is vitally important to publicize this transcendental event for Ecuador, Latin America and the world. We have digital platforms such as the website and social networks, for example @IEC2024 on Facebook, iec202424quito on Twitter or on Instagram.

We also send information to national and international media; we visit the different provinces and soon our first program will be aired on Radio Maria, whose signal reaches the whole world.

Afterwards, we will have our news on line. Spaces like this one in Omnes magazine are a great window to the world.

The socialization of IEC2024 is carried out with the commitment of bishops, priests, religious communities, lay movements, youth, catechists, national and international media.

The theme of the Congress focuses on the Fraternity. In a war-torn world, what relationship can we establish between the Eucharist and fraternity?

-Pope Francis himself chose the theme. The Eucharist is self-giving and fraternity is brotherhood; this gift of the pure and infinite love of God must reach all humanity. It is necessary to go from prayer to action, that is, to reach a Eucharistic coherence to avoid limiting ourselves to mere prayer, valuable yes, because the Eucharist is the summit of the Catholic faith; however, God desires that the love we have experienced, we share it with others, that is, a love that is translated into works.

While it is true that our world is torn by wars, it is necessary to ask ourselves what is their origin, and if perhaps it is within the heart of every human being? The wounds are not only found on the battlefields, in poverty, in inequality, but also in the sadness of those who wait for a voice of encouragement in the midst of the storm and that is the place where we can act as brothers, as children of God, consoling, healing the wounds of the body, but also those of the heart.

We live in a society of appearances where we try to hide what is inside, with masks that separate us from the other, it is God who invites us to show ourselves as we are, to not be afraid to feel weak and vulnerable, to allow Him to heal us with His infinite power, and through our brother.

Pope Francis at the National Eucharistic Congress held in Italy in September 2022 expressed the need for the following to exist "A Church that kneels before the Eucharist and adores with awe the Lord present in the bread; but which also knows how to bow down with compassion and tenderness before the wounds of those who suffer, lifting up the poor, wiping away the tears of those who suffer, becoming bread of hope and joy for all." (September 25, 2022, Matera).

The Eucharist allows us to feel and discover God who frees us, to go out to meet our brothers and sisters, without judgment and without any other language than that of love. Only then will battles be won, when we decide to bet on peace, unity and fraternity, feeling that we are children of the same Father.

How can we propose peace in a world of war, how can we motivate devotion to the Eucharist in a troubled world? This is the challenge of today's Catholic, since we cannot remain with arms folded and remain silent when violence prevails as a solution to conflicts. Battles are won from the heart. It is time to turn our gaze to Jesus the Eucharist, whose mission did not end more than two thousand years ago, but prevails and is updated because he decided to stay among us as a living, close, human God.

How can we reach out to our brothers and sisters throughout the world through the love of Christ in the Eucharist?

-The message of Christ is universal; it marked the history of the world in a before and an after. In spite of the passing of time, it is still valid. It is time to revive his legacy, to tell without fear or shame that we believe in a Christ who died, rose again and decided to remain in the species of bread and wine.

It would seem illusory in a world where science is advancing rapidly and artificial intelligence is becoming more and more widespread. However, it is necessary to return to that Holy Thursday in which Jesus Christ generously decided to institute the sacrament of the Eucharist, to remain with us and to give himself to others. It is the greatest expression of love, because Jesus lived united to the Father in obedience, served humanity, taught that love is the feeling that moves the world and decided to stay with us. It is not a story, it is a reality. It is the living bread that comes down from heaven and is generously shared.

Every Eucharist is a miracle of love, it is God Himself who enters into our intimacy to be one with us and impels us to live in Him and for Him. It is He who heals our physical, psychological and spiritual wounds. It is a gift of love, it is the Eucharistic Mystery that is given to humanity through faith. Today it is an adventure to believe in Christ, and precisely this should be the motive that impels us to risk ourselves for Him, just as He did. It is not a leap into the void, but a leap into love, with the certainty that God takes care of us.

eucharistic congress quito

How is the Church and its faithful in Ecuador preparing for this International Congress?

-The Ecuadorian Church is preparing with great enthusiasm to live this event; the IEC2024 prayer has been translated into different languages and native tongues; in the coming days the official hymn will be ready; work is underway to prepare the basic document that will govern the Eucharistic catechesis of 2024 with the theme "Fraternity to heal the world", and of 2023 around the deepening of the Eucharistic mystery, whose recipients are children, youth, religious and priests.

We are also working on communication products that will allow us to reach the general public with the evangelizing message, in order to motivate their preparation and participation in this important ecclesial meeting that will put Quito at the center of the world's attention.

The logistics and economic commissions are also carrying out initiatives to cover the needs of the meeting, scheduled to be held at the Metropolitan Convention Center in Quito, where Pope Francis was present during his visit to Ecuador in 2015.

During the week of September 8 to 15, 2024, the streets of the historic center of Quito will be the scene of an important Eucharistic procession, and celebrations in different languages will be held in the churches of the colonial area. The closing mass is one of the most awaited, since the Holy Father is expected to be present.

Once the foot on the accelerator, in September 2023, the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Eucharistic Committee will be held, which will be attended by delegates for the International Eucharistic Congresses of the Bishops' Conferences of the world, in order to know places and define the details of the realization of IEC2024.

In this context, both the Ecuadorian Church and the country in general are preparing for such an important event. It is Monsignor Alfredo José Espinoza Mateus, Archbishop of Quito and Primate of Ecuador, who presides over this preparation and permanently motivates from the Metropolitan Archdiocese, the entire community to collaborate in the organization of IEC2024.

For the Church on pilgrimage in Quito, it is a true joy to be the host of this meeting, which will also show the beauty of the capital of Ecuador to the whole world.

Latin America is experiencing a moment of re-evangelization and ecclesial renewal. What do you think a congress of these characteristics will mean for this process?

-The Holy Father hopes that the experience of this Congress will manifest the fruitfulness of the Eucharist for the evangelization and renewal of faith in the Latin American continent.

A Congress of such characteristics will allow us to rethink the reality of the Catholic world in Latin America, respecting its diversity. It is necessary to re-evangelize through service, following the example of Jesus, who fought for social justice.

The theme "Fraternity to heal the world" allows us to recognize ourselves as true brothers and sisters and invites us to heal wounds through mercy and forgiveness.

It is important to understand the social dimension of Latin America, as it is going through circumstances of poverty, insecurity, corruption, drug trafficking, human trafficking, migration, lack of access to employment and basic services, among others. Its socio-political situation has had ups and downs, because although it has had rulers of different ideological tendencies, it is evident that there is a clear social and economic debt. Weak democratic systems have contributed to this reality.

The Congress will allow us to focus our attention on Latin America and identify its needs, with an evangelizing and fraternal outlook. It is necessary to know their wounds and how to heal them, starting from the Eucharist, towards the mission, that is, reaching a faith translated into works.

This task must be carried out with the collaboration of committed Catholics willing to break paradigms and take the helm to work together to achieve better times for our Latin American brothers and sisters.

We hope that the 53rd International Eucharistic Congress will contribute to the ongoing re-evangelization and ecclesial renewal, and that its message will reach not only the Catholic world, but especially those who for various reasons are far from the Church, welcoming them with an open heart that transmits fraternity, hope and acceptance; that does not judge, but simply loves.

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