New York State hosted its Eucharistic Congress in Auriesville, right outside Albany, at the Shrine of the North American Martyrs, also known as the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs.
The National Eucharistic Revival is a three-year initiative organized by the U.S. Catholic Bishops (USCCB). It aims to educate, unite, and bring the faithful to a more intimate relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist.
New York State’s -State Eucharistic Congress began on October 20 and ended on October 22.
The aspiration of all those who planned, attended, and lauded the efforts from afar was to unite the faithful to the Eucharist and to emerge from the conference with a more profound reverence for the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
It is estimated that 10,000 people participated in the forty-hour weekend, and 7,000 on Saturday when they celebrated the principal Mass, followed by a procession later in the afternoon.
The Eucharist in New York
People from all walks of life attended: many youth groups, parish families, and men and women religious gathered on a rainy Saturday to recall the power of the Eucharist and to reignite the devotion to Our Lord. “…It was a true mosaic of the Catholic Church in New York, reported the Good Newsroom.” There were talks in English and Spanish by beloved Catholic speakers, booths, and catechesis, and the faithful had the opportunity to go to Confession and enjoy Adoration. Throughout the forty hours, those in attendance were reminded that the “Word becomes flesh in the hands of a priest.”
His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, was in Rome at the Synod but did pop up in a video in which he gave thanks to all his brother bishops, deacons, religious women and men, the Knights of Columbus, and all of the many who made the weekend possible. He said, “I’m distant physically, but I’m very close to you because of the power of the magnetism of the holy Eucharist.” He recalled his skepticism about having a “mini congress” and described the Eucharistic Conference in New York “as a dream long in coming.”
The Colosseum was packed, and it was “so emotional,” upon walking in, recalled Bishop Colacicco, Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of New York. He spoke about the reverence of the procession and how “moving” it was. He also talked about the sacredness of the spot of Our Lady of Martyrs Shrine. It was during the 17th century, in the 1640s, that the Jesuit missionaries were martyred for preaching the Gospel, eight of whom would be canonized in the 1930s. So, it was fitting to have this “Catholic revival” at such a sacred place.
A message of hope
Could this serve as an “antipasto” to the National Eucharistic Revival asked Cardinal Dolan. Bishop Colacicco is confident and said the statewide conference “has set the tone” and believes that “the faith that we have in the Lord’s presence in the Eucharist is strong and getting stronger.” The love of Jesus and the power of the Eucharist is what will save us. He is confident that the “blood of the holy ground” will continue to welcome more faithful Christians and spoke of the many “seeds that were planted for vocations, holy marriages, and family life.” In addition, he was grateful to have had the opportunity to bless babies. He also lauded and praised the speakers and said the talks “were brilliant and edifying.”
Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, Bishop of Albany and Chair of the Board of the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs, welcomed all those in attendance. His prayer for everyone was to receive the message “of hope and reassurance that Jesus wants to live in your heart.”
Missionary Church, Eucharistic Church
The Most Reverend Terry LaValley, Bishop of Ogdensburg, celebrated the principal Mass, and 16 bishops concelebrated and hundreds of priests from New York State. In his homily, he referred to Sacramentum Caricatis, which states, “A missionary Church is a Eucharistic Church. And said one of the hopes of the Eucharistic Revival is to form missionary disciples.”
Among the many speakers was Bishop Joseph Espaillat, who was the first Dominican bishop in the United States and the youngest. “He had the place on fire,” remarked Bishop Colacicco. The Bronx-born native knows how to engage the faithful. He is known as the ‘rapping priest’ and proves that his unconventional ways of teaching are his secret to evangelizing. He hosts a podcast, “Sainthood in the City,” that offers talks in English and Spanish and appeals to many but has a special connection with young Hispanic men, whom he encourages to be better.
Mother Clare Matthiass, CFR, the General Servant (Superior) of the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal and the author of many popular books, gave an inspiring talk and said, “When we come together at Eucharistic adoration, it’s that offering suspended…” and reminded everyone that Our Lord always stays with us.
Music recorded by The Sisters of Lifewas played, which was meditative and calming. Some of the lyrics sung were, “I belong to you.”
It’s only the beginning of the National Eucharistic Congress. It has been eighty-three years since the last one, so get ready. From July 17 to 21 in Indianapolis, 80,000 people will gather to celebrate the Eucharist and the Real Presence in the Host.
Look out for processions organized by your local parish and prepare for the final phase of the Congress, but the commencement of a new spirit and grace that we receive only from He, who chose us.