One highlight of the March 8 installment of the Eucharistic Revival Speaker Series at St. Paul Parish occurred after the guest speaker had finished his presentation, according to Katie Van Damme.
About 40 people had gathered to hear Father Peter Mottola discuss “the hidden roots of the Eucharist in the Old Testament,” when one of the participants approached her with high praise for the speaker series.
“Someone came up to me and said, ‘I’m coming back (to the church) because of these,’” recalled Van Damme, St. Paul’s adult faith-formation coordinator.
Re-engaging Catholics who’d fallen away from the church — especially due to the pandemic — and finding ways to more actively engage those who stayed had been among the organizers’ goals as they planned the series, Van Damme said.
National Eucharistic Revival intended to renew faith in Christ’s presence in Eucharist
Yet, as its title implies, the main reason for hosting the speaker series was to educate people about the Eucharist. St. Paul is one of many parishes throughout the Diocese of Rochester that have planned special events in relation to the National Eucharistic Revival.
The Catholic bishops of the United States called for the revival to renew Catholics’ belief in and devotion to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. And Bishop Salvatore R. Matano opened the revival in the Diocese of Rochester last June, with a Mass and eucharistic procession at Rochester’s Corpus Christi Church.
Parish-level and regional events — including a New York State Eucharistic Congress — will continue throughout 2023, and in July 2024, there will be a National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis.
St. Paul Parish in Webster hosts monthly talks about the Eucharist
St. Paul Parish has been hosting monthly talks about the Eucharist since November and will continue to do so through May. Although the series’ seven presentations cover such diverse topics as the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the history of the Eucharist and the devotion of various saints to the Eucharist, there is still much left to explore, Van Damme said.
“There’s so much information on the Eucharist and so many different ways that you can tackle it,” she said. “We’ll be continuing this into the next year, because there is just so much to learn.”
The next installment of St. Paul’s Eucharistic Revival Speaker series will take place April 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the church, 783 Hard Road in Webster, with Father Robert Kennedy discussing the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The full listing of upcoming sessions may be found online at www.stpaulsrcc.org.
Organizers hope the diversity and quality of both the topics and presenters — including many who are on the faculty at St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry in Pittsford — will continue to draw people in and encourage them to explore their faith. And, by virtue of their baptisms, Catholics also have a responsibility to educate others about the faith, Van Damme said.
“We want to bring people back and remind them about what is so special about our faith and remind them that we are part of the Body of Christ, and it is Christ that is physically present (in the Eucharist),” she said.
Holy hours let teens recognize, rest in God’s presence
Meanwhile, teens at Church of the Resurrection in Fairport also have been learning about Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. The parish has been hosting monthly holy hours for teens since October.
Father William “Mickey” McGrath, pastor at the clustered parishes of Church of the Resurrection and Church of the Assumption, opens each holy hour with a eucharistic hymn followed by a few minutes of silent adoration, according to Liana Wolford, the parishes’ coordinator of faith formation for children in grades seven to 12. The rest of the hour features Gospel readings and a brief reflection from Father McGrath as well as contemporary hymns, periods of silence, prayers and Benediction, Wolford said.
Teens who have participated in the holy hours seem to appreciate the opportunity to learn about a style of prayer that’s new to them, Wolford said. They also appreciate the chance to spend time in silence with God, she added.
“Our culture is full of noise and distraction. Our teens need time to disconnect from the rest of the world and rest in the presence of God,” she said. “Many struggle to be enough, do enough, continuously achieve. It is important for them to know Christ is waiting for them, delighting in their presence simply for who they are, not what they do.”
Parishes throughout the diocese offer ways to participate in the Eucharistic Revival
Many parishes throughout the diocese are offering regular times for eucharistic adoration; check with individual parishes for details.
Parishes also are providing parishioners with various other opportunities to participate in the Eucharistic Revival, including the following:
- St. John of Rochester Parish in Fairport is offering weekly viewings and discussions of “Presence: The Mystery of the Eucharist,” a video series from The Augustine Institute. April sessions will take place Wednesday mornings, and sessions in May and June will take place Tuesday evenings. To register or learn more, contact Robert.Layer@dor.org.
- Church of the Resurrection and Church of the Assumption will offer a 40 Hours Devotion April 14-16. It will begin with a holy hour at 3 p.m. April 14 , at which the prayers of the Divine Mercy Novena and the Divine Mercy Chaplet will be offered. Continuous adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will be offered through 9 a.m. on April 16. Those interested may sign up for an hour of adoration online at assumptionresurrection.flocknote.com/signup/117857.
- A section of the website of Immaculate Conception Parish in Ithaca is devoted to the Eucharistic Revival. This page features information about past and future events related to the revival as well as resources about the Eucharist and an online quiz testing visitors’ knowledge of the Eucharist.
- Church of the Transfiguration in Pittsford will host Dr. Joseph Kelly for a series of talks on the Eucharist in April and early May. Kelly will discuss why Catholics celebrate the Eucharist, what its celebration means for the Christian community, why there are disputes over how it is celebrated and what it means to believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. His talks will take place from 10 to 11:15 a.m. April 16, 23 and 30 and May 7 at Transfiguration’s Parish Life Center, 50 W. Bloomfield Road, Pittsford.
- St. Patrick Parish in Victor has created a Eucharistic Revival Pilgrim’s Passport. Each week, Father Edison Tayag, pastor, presents a suggested spiritual exercise for parishioners to complete in order to earn stamps on their passport notebooks. The initiative guides “pilgrims” as they journey through the Eucharistic Revival.
- The Nocturnal Adoration Society organizes monthly prayer vigils including exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, psalms, Scripture, spiritual readings, prayers and silent adoration. The vigils take place on the last Saturday of the month:
- from 6 to 7 p.m. at Parish of the Most Holy Name of Jesus’ St. Patrick Church, 604 Park Place, Elmira,
- from 6 to 7 p.m. at Parish of the Holy Family’s St. Jude Church, 4100 Lyell Road, Gates
- from 8 to 9 p.m. at St. Kateri Parish’s Christ the King Church, 445 Kings Highway South, Irondequoit.
Vigils also take place:
- the third Saturday of the month from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at St. Charles Borromeo Church, 3003 Dewey Ave., Greece
- the first Friday of the month from 6 to 9 p.m. with hourly sessions at Holy Family Catholic Community’s St. Joseph Church, 206 Fremont St., Wayland.