My first International Eucharistic Congress was in Wroclaw, Poland in 1995. A devout Polish priest, ordained in Krakow in the 1970s by Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, led a pilgrimage to Poland and the Czech Republic with the highlight being the 46th International Eucharistic Congress. The pilgrimage began out of a parish in Ft. Myers, Florida. As my renewed desire for the richness of my faith grew, I was enticed to go.
I have had a great interest in Eucharistic Congresses since and have attended two Congresses and I am currently making plans for my third one which is coming up in October 2004 the 48th International Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Just what is a Eucharistic Congress? Well, it is a gathering of Catholics priests, religious and laity who come together to express their devotion for the Holy Eucharist.
At every Eucharistic Congress, which lasts a weekend to seven days, there are numerous speakers who expound on the various topics of the Eucharist. The International Congresses are usually 3-5 years apart, which allows for preparation, as they are always held worldwide. Catholics come from all over the world to participate in the ceremonies and to celebrate Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. There are tables and booths set up where one can find information about the Catholic faith. There are cultural interests, music and art. And of course, there is an adoration chapel and confessions are heard almost non-stop. There is a daily mass and at least one day is reserved for a Eucharistic procession, many times a nighttime candlelight procession. All believers clergy, religious and laity line the streets following the Blessed Sacrament. It is an awesome, breathtaking and magnificent event that shows forth the great power of His Real Presence. Participation in such a procession makes one grateful to be a Catholic!
The first International Eucharistic Congress was held at Lille, France on June 21, 1881. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the idea was merely local and met with few adherents, but it grew from year to year with ever increasing importance.
Since then, forty-seven International Eucharistic Congresses have been formed, each with their own special value. For example, out of the 43rd Congress held in Madrid, Spain in 1993, Pope John Paul II encouraged the promotion of Eucharistic adoration in parishes around the world.
The United States has hosted two International Eucharistic Congresses. The 28th International Eucharistic Congrss was held in Chicago in 1926 and the 41st International Eucharistic Congress was held in Philadelphia in 1976. The most recent International Eucharistic Congress was held in Rome, Italy during the Holy Year 2000.
On the closing day of the Congress in Rome, the Holy Father announced that the location of the next International Eucharistic Congress would be in Guadalajara, Mexico October 10 17, 2004. His Eminence Juan Cardinal Sandoval Iniquez invites all Catholics to participate with his diocese in the celebration. The theme is, The Eucharist: Light and Life of the New Millennium.
Looking forward to seeing you there!!
Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association
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Lombard, IL 60148
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