Fr. Hrudaya Raju “Raj” Sunkara is accompanied as he processes through downtown Hurley during the Corpus Christi Eucharistic procession on June 19. About 40 persons participated, praying the rosary during the procession after the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Mary of the Seven Dolors Parish. Local police flanked the procession at the front and back as the group walked two blocks from the church to the main street, over one block and back to the church building. Bishop James P. Powers requested that each parish cluster hold a public procession to kick off the nationwide Eucharistic Revival. (Catholic Herald photo by Jenny Snarski)

Julie Asher
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Catholic Church’s three-year eucharistic revival just getting underway “is not a program but a movement” that is an invitation to the faithful from God to go on mission and be compelling witnesses of our faith, said Tim Glemkowski, the executive director of the National Eucharistic Congress.

“We the church have to be clear about telling our story, getting to the core” of our faith, that “God is not just some distant someone who is not engaged,” he told Catholic News Service April 5. “He’s alive and real and can be encountered in the Eucharist, source and summit of the faith. … This is where God is with us.”

The National Eucharistic Revival began June 19, the feast of Corpus Christi, and culminates with the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis in 2024. Along the way, there will be parish, diocesan and regional events to increase Catholics’ understanding of the Real Presence in the Eucharist.

The first year will get underway at the parish and diocesan levels with initiatives such as eucharistic adoration and processions, the development of parish teams of revival leaders and conferences on the Eucharist.

The following year there will be regional revival events, leading to the eucharistic congress in Indianapolis in 2024, the first to be held since one took place in 1976 in Philadelphia. It is expected to draw at least 80,000 from across the country.

The U.S. bishops approved plans for the revival and the congress last November during their fall general assembly in Baltimore. Both are being spearheaded by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, chaired by Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota.

As chairman of the board of the National Eucharistic Congress Inc., Bishop Cozzens announced Glemkowski’s appointment April 4.

Until he was chosen for his new position, Glemkowski had been working for the Archdiocese of Denver in evangelization and strategy. Before that, he was founding president of the Chicago-based L’Alto Catholic Institute, which works with parishes to meet “the challenges and opportunities” of the new evangelization.

Glemkowski noted that “the original vision” for the revival began to be discussed when Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles, the bishops’ evangelization chairman, shortly after the results of a 2019 Pew survey showed just 30 percent of Catholics understand the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Bishop Barron, who has been appointed future bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, was also is founder of the Catholic evangelization organization Word on Fire.

In the Pew survey, 69 percent of all self-identified Catholics said they believed the bread and wine used at Mass are not Jesus, but instead “symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.”

The results struck a nerve with many U.S. bishops, who saw a catechetical crisis in this lack of fundamental understanding about the Eucharist.

In November, in addition to approving the plans for the revival and Congress, the bishops also approved a statement on “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church,” which is addressed to all Catholics in the United States and “endeavors to explain the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the church.”

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, which drafted the statement, also said the document was meant to be a theological contribution to the bishops’ upcoming eucharistic revival “by providing a doctrinal resource for parishes, catechists and the faithful.”

In addition, the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute for Church Life has launched a new initiative for 2022 on fostering a eucharistic culture in parishes, schools, and dioceses as a way of promoting deeper affiliation with the church.

Eucharistic revival in the diocese

To kick off the two-year eucharistic revival in the Diocese of Superior, Bishop James P. Powers requested that all parish clusters host a local Corpus Christi procession on Sunday, June 19, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.

The bishop is also requesting that each parish in the diocese host adoration of the Blessed Sacrament one Wednesday during the two-year revival. The events will consist of exposition, adoration and benediction and time for readings, music and worship and more.

The diocese will also be using media and social media to promote the revival, offer testimonies and witness and publicize activities. The diocese’s Director of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship, Chris Hurtubise, will publish a series of teaching articles in the Superior Catholic Herald during the two-year period.

At this time, the diocese is not planning to send anyone to the eucharistic congress in Indianapolis in 2024, diocesan officials said, although that could change.