Teens encouraged to be intentional in their relationship with Jesus through Eucharistic devotion during 'Come, Encounter Christ'
TROY — Christ, Our Light! Parish in Troy was packed Sunday night — mostly with young people — for an evening of praise, worship and adoration of Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist.
The "Come, Encounter Christ" Eucharistic-centered night featured praise and worship music, dynamic preaching from Fr. Jeremey Schupbach of Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, and opportunities for confessions, culminating in a Eucharistic procession through the church.
The event was organized by the Office of Youth Ministry in the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Department of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship as a way for young people to develop a greater appreciation and awareness of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist amidst the National Eucharistic Revival.
“We are trying to bring together a number of young people from across the archdiocese at least once per year for an event like this,” Laura Piccone-Hanchon, coordinator of youth ministry in the Department of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship, told Detroit Catholic. “Young people heard about this through their youth ministers, high school campus ministers or in the parish bulletin or their schools, coming from all corners of the archdiocese.”
The archdiocese will host a similar event for high school students, Rise, on Feb. 4 at Mercy High School in Farmington Hills that will also feature Eucharistic adoration and sermons on the Eucharist as a way to encourage young people to grow spiritually as they mature and take ownership of their faith.
“These kinds of events bring young people together with other young people who are witnessing their faith,” Piccone-Hanchon said. “A lot of times, that can be a very powerful witness, to see other people of the same age, that are showing outwardly that they are Catholic and are coming to an event like this on a Sunday night.”
Dayana Ochoa of Christ, Our Light! Parish attended the event with her confirmation class and youth group and felt the emcee, Lauryn Coules, and Fr. Schupbach made the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist understandable for those in attendance.
“The entire evening was really fun,” Ochoa said. “At first I was hesitant, but when I heard other people were singing, I got really into it. And then when they started offering confession, just seeing so many people getting in line. I wasn’t expecting so many people my age to be excited about going to confession, being so open to the idea.”
Fr. Schupbach, who was ordained earlier this year, said it was a great joy to see so many young people in the church to hear the truth about the Eucharist, adding it reminded him of the annual youth retreats held at his alma mater, the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
“Tonight we’re here in the presence of the Eucharist, and I wanted to focus my preaching on this amazing sacrament,” Fr. Schupbach said. “I specifically wanted to reflect on the physicality of the sacrament, the bread and wine, the appearance of bread and wine and what it helps us to see.”
Fr. Schupbach said the physical presence of the Eucharist under the appearance of bread and wine is a gift of the Lord to mankind, as it offers human beings a chance to be physically present with the Lord.
Just as families show their love for one another by being physically present, events like "Come, Encounter Christ" are an opportunity for Christ's family to show they love him by taking time to be with him, Fr. Schupbach said.
“The physical side of the sacraments gives us a way to be intentional in our relationship with Jesus Christ; that is true of the Eucharist more so than any sacraments,” Fr. Schupbach said. “When a guy and girl are dating each other, it’s not enough to talk on the phone. They need to go and be physically present with each other, and that takes more work; you have to get in the car, drive, and make time in your schedule to be with that person.”
Fr. Schupbach said it’s true God is ever-present and with His creation at all times, but since time and space are limited for mankind, the Eucharist offers a chance to show one’s devotion to the Lord.
“If we were to break the rules of physics and have unlimited time on our hands, then being physically present to each other would not require intentionality; it would lose its meaningfulness,” Fr. Schupbach said. “But we have a limited time; we can’t be at two places at once. Where we are, how we choose to spend our time, says something about us. By being here tonight, you could be anywhere else, you are showing your devotion to the Lord.”
The crescendo of the evening was when Fr. Schupbach placed the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance and carried the monstrance throughout the church, stopping at various pews for the faithful to adore Christ’s real presence up close.
"Come, Encounter Christ" events are designed to have a different feel than typical Eucharistic adoration, and Sunday’s event was an opportunity for young people to come to a greater appreciation of the sacrament, Piccone-Hanchon said.
“We think that offering something like this can really help young people to have an appreciation that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist,” Piccone-Hanchon said. “When it is explained to them and there are hundreds of other young people around them, when the music is inspiring to them and when it is specifically speaking to them as a young person, that goes a long way.”
Ochoa said it was amazing for her and her religious education classmates to meet other teens from the archdiocese and see they are not alone in their faith.
“I didn’t know other parishes were going to be here; I thought it was just going to be our youth group and some parents,” Ochoa said. “But when I saw the other parishes, I was thinking how much more inclusive it is, how big our Church is. Tonight made me feel like I’m proud I can share my religion with people who are my age.
“Nights like tonight give me more to go off of,” Ochoa continued. “Going to church with your family is something, but going to youth group activities like this, hearing more about the sacraments opens my mind to so much more in the faith than just going to church.”
Liturgy and devotions