Hundreds of parish leaders and clergy attended the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Day of Renewal on Sept. 25 at the Rosemont Theater in Rosemont. The thread that ran through the keynote addresses and panel discussions was that Catholics must renew their relationships with Jesus to carry out the call of all disciples to go out and bring about the salvation of the world, as the archdiocese moves forward in the Renew My Church process. Auxiliary Bishop Robert Casey, the archdiocese’s vicar general, gave the opening talk and discussed at the situation when Renew My Church launched, the structural changes that affected many parishes and where the movement is going. During his keynote address, Cardinal Cupich pointed to the Eucharist “as the source and summit of the Christian life” and the inspiration for renewal in the church. “I believe that an important way in renewing ourselves in the Eucharist is to recover the connection between the Resurrection and the Eucharist as the way in which we connect between the sacraments and sacrifice,” he said. There is much discussion in the church today, he said, about the idea that people do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. “But what is the real crisis of faith here? Is it affirming an understanding of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist? Or is it something deeper?” Cardinal Cupich asked. “I believe it is in affirming an understanding of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. … If we do not have that core belief that Jesus is alive and active and exercising his priestly ministry, as we hear in the Second Vatican Council, then the Eucharist doesn’t make any sense to it at all.” The cardinal pointed to John 20, where Jesus appears to the disciples following his resurrection and commissions them to go out and finish his work. “The point is that Jesus being raised from the dead was not only a feat of personal vindication,” he said. “Rather, in being raised from the dead, Jesus’ first act is to return to his disciples and invite them into a transforming partnership together to share in the work of bringing about the salvation of the world through the sacrifice of the cross.” Each person is called to bring about the salvation of the world, Cardinal Cupich said. “What happens is, in the Eucharist, we once again are brought to the cross in order to receive that spirit in a new way,” he said. To offer attendees a better understanding of the pedagogy of the Eucharist and how it forms us each time we celebrate it, the cardinal walked participants through the parts of the Mass — in the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Following Cardinal Cupich, Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, spoke via video about evangelization in today’s world. He particularly called attendees to develop a personal relationship with Jesus. That phrase held negative connotations for Catholics at one time, he said. “In this new climate, the exhortation to have a ‘personal relationship with Christ’ has nothing dangerous about it. On the contrary, this way of conceiving faith is the only one possible, given that faith can no longer be taken for granted, and that it is not absorbed as children within the family or the school, but must be the fruit of personal decision. The success of a mission can no longer be measured by the number of confessions heard and communions distributed, but by how many people have passed from being nominal Christians to real Christians, that is, convinced and active in the life of the parish,” he said. “Let us try to understand what this famous ‘personal encounter’ with Christ actually consists of. It is like meeting a person live, after having known him or her for years only through a photo. One can know books about Jesus, doctrines, heresies about Jesus, but not know him alive and present. For many baptized believers, Jesus is a character from the past, a personality, not a living person. There is a huge difference between a personality and a person!” Cardinal Cantalamessa said. (See the full text of his remarks at chicagocatholic.com.) Father John Riccardo, executive director of ACTS XXIX, gave the final keynote, focusing on missionary discipleship and what it means for how we live. Jesus calls us to grow in holiness and to also go out into the world to spread the message of Easter Sunday, he said. “Jesus rescued us for the world,” Riccardo said. We are called to “stand in agonizing prayer on behalf of the world,” and “unite our suffering to Jesus for others,” he said. We do that by being agents of resistance, recreation, restoration, reconciliation, healing and by being ambassadors for the kingdom of God, he said. During the closing panel, attendees were given next steps to grow in missionary discipleship personally and as parishes. Suggestions that were listed in the guidebook for the day can be found at renewmychurch.org/DayofRenewal. Officials also announced upcoming virtual workshops on faith sharing and pastoral accompaniment skills training. There also will be upcoming vicariate-wide events around the National Eucharistic Revival, officials said.