Catholics from throughout the diocese recently traveled to Waterloo and Horseheads to participate in “Alive in Christ in the Year of the Eucharist,” which took place Feb. 12 and March 19.
Alive in Christ is an annual catechetical-formation program sponsored by the diocesan Department of Evangelization and Catechesis. In the past, the program has offered liturgy-related workshops by nationally known speakers and local priests and catechetical leaders.
“Every catechist volunteer needs to have so many hours of training a year,” explained Sister Karen Dietz, diocesan coordinator of sacramental catechesis.
Pope John Paul II proclaimed that October 2004 to October 2005 would be the Year of the Eucharist. During this year, Catholics around the world are called to focus and reflect on the Eucharist. In honor of the pope’s proclamation, most of the workshops offered at this year’s Alive in Christ were related to the Eucharist.
Shannon Loughlin, diocesan director of young-adult and campus ministry, presented a workshop called “Celebrating Liturgies: The Role of the Assembly.”
“It’s about the role of the assembly in celebrating liturgy and how we as Catholics are called to full, active and conscious celebration of the Eucharist,” she explained.
In the workshop, Loughlin helped participants understand their place at eucharistic celebrations as baptized Catholics and how to encourage a sense of community at those celebrations.
In a workshop titled “Eucharist: Food for Mission,” Father Joseph Catanise, assisting priest at St. Rita’s Parish in Webster, talked about the Eucharist’s Jewish origins in the Passover meal. Jesus instituted the Eucharist at this memorial meal with his Apostles. Catholics will not be able to truly understand the significance of the Eucharist until they understand the concept of a memorial meal, Father Catanise said.
“I really believe most Catholics don’t understand the idea of the memorial feast. It’s no accident that Jesus instituted the Eucharist at Passover, making that now our memorial feast,” he said. At Passover, Jewish people aren’t just remembering, but are “taking a past event and making it a present reality.”
The same is true of Catholics celebrating the Eucharist, he said.
Father George Heyman, pastor of the Catholic Community of the Blessed Trinity in Wolcott, helped participants in his workshop understand the way Scriptures inform the present-day understanding of Eucharist and if there is a scriptural foundation for the doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
A variety of other workshops covered topics such as how to integrate the Eucharist with lived experience and what it means to speak of the Eucharist as the summit of all the church’s activity.