One week centered around the Eucharist

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Eucharist is the source and summit of our life as Catholics and next year tens of thousands of people will gather in Ireland to witness to that fact. Among them will be groups from the Archdiocese of Chicago. All will come together in Dublin from June 10-17 for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, held every four years in a different country. Masses, cultural events, catechesis, testimonies and workshops will take place during the week. The last one was held in Quebec in 2008. Chicago hosted the 28th international congress in 1926.

Groups from Chicago are leading pilgrimages to the event. One such trip will be led by Father James O’Brien, Cardinal George’s delegate to the congress. O’Brien regularly visits Ireland and is eager to show other Catholics the “friendliness” of the Irish. His trip costs around $4,200 and will take a few days before and after the congress to see Ireland.

A veteran tour leader, O’Brien said this is his first time at the international congress. He said his hope for the pilgrims is “to find a sense of the Eucharist, to realize that the Eucharist is important, not only to our parishes or our archdiocese but to the people of the world.”

The Pope John Paul II Adoration Society is also offering a pilgrimage with Bishop Joseph Perry for about $3,000. Roy Postel, the group’s leader, said the international congress is an opportunity to witness to our belief in the Eucharist on the world’s stage, much like young people do at World Youth Day.

“It’s a celebration of the importance of the Eucharist and God’s presence with us in a tangible way,” Postel said. “I think all of us have personally struggled with Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist at one point in our lives. It’s a chance to give witness.”

Pope Benedict XVI is supposed to attend the congress and both O’Brien and Postel believe his visit could do much to help heal the Catholic Church in Ireland, which has endured a major scandal involving clergy sexual abuse.