National Eucharistic Pilgrimage coming through archdiocese June 26-30

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Thursday, June 13, 2024

Catholics from all over the Archdiocese of Chicago and surrounding areas can participate in the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage making its way to the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis July 17-21.

The pilgrimage will be in Chicago from June 26 through June 30, with a variety of liturgies and devotions planned, including a morning of service and a Mass on June 30 celebrated by Cardinal Cupich at Holy Name Cathedral.

It is part of the three-year National Eucharistic Revival, which began on the feast of Corpus Christi in 2022 and culminates with the 10th National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis.

Pilgrims are walking with the Eucharist along four routes, from the East and West coasts, the border with Mexico, and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

The Archdiocese of Chicago is on the Marian Route, which began in Minnesota on Pentecost.

The revival was intended to emphasize the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, said Father Robert Ryan, co-director of the pilgrimage in the Archdiocese of Chicago, after studies showed “a significant lack of belief among Catholics” in the Real Presence.

“It is a difficult teaching,” Ryan said, adding that, according to the Gospels, even Jesus’ disciples had trouble understanding it. It was Peter who, when asked, said he would stay with Jesus because he loved him, even if he didn’t fully understand.

“That’s really what all this is for,” said Ryan, associate pastor of Sts. Joseph and Francis Xavier Parish in Wilmette. “It’s for the conversion of hearts, not just the filling of the pews. We want people to know the love of Christ and that they matter and that God knows them and loves them. Out of his great love for us, he wants us to know that we’re not alone. We not only can know Jesus, we can know him intimately.”

Ryan said he hopes the pilgrimage and its attendant events can draw more people into intimate relationship with the Lord.

“The people who are coming to these events are primarily people who already believe in Jesus in the Eucharist,” he acknowledged. “The hope is that they’ll invite a friend, maybe someone who is having a hard time in their life, and they’ll hear Jesus and God the Father speak into their hearts and have an encounter with the living God.

“When people don’t know Jesus in the Eucharist, it’s because they don’t know that they’re loved. They don’t know that God cares about them and their life, that they are not just a product of chance but that they are willed and they have a purpose and they are loved.”

Ryan said it’s appropriate that the pilgrimage’s first stop in the archdiocese is at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, with a Mass and procession for young people, both because the university is under the patronage of Mary, also the patroness of this route of the pilgrimage, and because Mundelein was the site of the closing Mass of the 1926 Eucharistic Congress.

Ryan said he is excited to be the main celebrant of the Mass at Mundelein, because he was on a retreat there, spending time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, when he first understood God was calling him to the priesthood.

The various events generally begin with Mass and proceed to adoration or a public procession, which leaves and then returns to the church.

“We’re really following the cardinal’s vision, that the Eucharist is connected to the Mass, which flows to adoration, but it’s not meant to stay there,” Ryan said. “It flows out to serving our brothers and sisters. Even the structure of the Eucharistic pilgrimage here in Chicago holds that structure. It begins with events that are very liturgically and community focused, then we have this event of service right in the middle of everything, because the love of Christ is meant to be shared. Then we come back with our whole church.”

Mary Ellen Ottenstein, director of communications for Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Elk Grove Village, said the parish will participate in the morning of adoration and service at its Queen of the Rosary campus.

The morning will start with Mass at 8:15 a.m., followed by the rosary and adoration, as is done every Saturday. Participants can then share fellowship in the school and help assemble comfort packets with snacks and toiletries that parishioners can keep in their cars to give to people on the street who need them, or help organize donations such as diapers that are collected for pro-life organizations in the month between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, a period the Respect Life ministry highlights as the “Season of Life.”

“For us, this is a way to spotlight the idea of what we are already called to do as Catholics,” Ottenstein said. “The connection we’re hoping people will make between the Eucharist and service is we are Jesus’ hands and feet here on earth. We are fed by the Eucharist and we are sent out on mission.”


  • eucharist
  • national eucharistic revival

Related Articles