Registration opens for historic July 2024 gathering in Indianapolis as local Catholics foster 'beautiful encounters with Jesus'
DETROIT — Sr. Esther Mary Nickel, RSM, expects the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis from July 17-21, 2024, to be a revolutionary moment for the Church in the United States.
Kicking off the third and final year of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Eucharistic Revival, the congress is expected to draw more than 80,000 Catholics from dioceses across the country to worship, learn, celebrate and pray together in communion with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
“This will be a moment of heightened awareness of how Jesus is coming to each of us, to bring us together in communion with one another,” said Sr. Nickel, director of sacred worship for the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Department of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship.
Sr. Nickel expects the congress — which opened registration to the public on Feb. 15 — to catapult the U.S. Church toward a renewed understanding and appreciation of the holy Eucharist.
“It will be sort of like World Youth Day,” Sr. Nickel said. “In each of the previous congresses (dating back to 1926), people came together to honor Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and there was an increase of fire and faith. And that’s just the beginning.”
Catholics from the Archdiocese of Detroit are encouraged to sign up on the National Eucharistic Congress’ website.
Launched last year, the National Eucharistic Revival is a three-year campaign by the U.S. bishops to increase Catholics' understanding of and devotion to Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist. Part of the impetus for the campaign was a Pew Research Center study in the fall of 2019 that showed just 30% to 40% of Catholics understand and believe in the Real Presence.
A more recent study conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University found that just 50% of Catholics know the teaching on the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and only 40% believe this teaching. The study also showed that only 15% of Catholics attend Sunday Mass on a weekly basis.
The first year of the revival, the Year of Diocesan Revival, launched on the solemnity of Corpus Christi, June 19, 2022. In the Archdiocese of Detroit, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron led a two-mile Eucharistic procession from the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament to Sacred Heart Major Seminary.
The archdiocese’s I AM HERE campaign, in partnership with the popular Hallow app, also launched in June as a way to inspire Catholics to take part in Eucharistic adoration by sharing testimonials and inviting participation in various holy hours throughout Advent and Lent.
“It’s almost like we’re waking up,” Sr. Nickel said. “That’s the best way I can describe it. All of these people are having these beautiful encounters with Jesus (through the I AM HERE campaign).”
As worship director for the archdiocese, Sr. Nickel said she’s fielded an increase in calls from parishes interested in starting adoration chapels and organizing Eucharistic holy hours, devotions and perpetual adoration — a sign that the movement is taking hold, she says.
"I've had a lot of questions such as, 'How can we start perpetual adoration?' People want to know about 40 hours' devotions," Sr. Nickel said. "This first year has really been about waking up and saying, 'We need this Eucharistic revival.'"
The Year of Diocesan Revival concludes June 11, 2023, giving way to the next phase of the movement, the Year of Parish Revival, which will run until the Eucharistic Congress opens in 2024.
During the parish year, the focus will be on helping Catholics gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of how Jesus is present in the Mass, Sr. Nickel said.
“Archbishop Vigneron has asked us to take this year and teach about the Mass,” Sr. Nickel said. “Many people don’t understand the Mass. For instance, we can say Jesus is present in the Most Holy Eucharist, but how does this happen? When we receive Jesus in holy Communion, we all receive the same Jesus, and we come to communion with one another. That’s huge for us.”
In the weeks and months ahead, Sr. Nickel said her office will be working with Families of Parishes to appoint individuals in each family who can serve as a point person for efforts and activities related to the Eucharistic revival. Parishes will also be encouraged to form small groups to build community, foster prayer and devotion and organize study sessions geared toward a greater understanding of the gift of the Eucharist, Sr. Nickel added.
Another key part of the Eucharistic revival is a four-legged Eucharistic pilgrimage that will begin in cities to the north, south, east and west of Indianapolis and culminate in a grand procession to Lucas Oil Stadium for the start of the Eucharistic Congress on July 17, 2024.
Although the pilgrimage routes do not pass through Detroit — the nearest touchpoints being Fort Wayne, Ind., and Steubenville, Ohio — Sr. Nickel said Catholics can nevertheless take part either by traveling or through their prayers.
But while Indianapolis will be the last stop on the pilgrimage, the Eucharistic Revival won’t conclude there, Sr. Nickel said.
“The following year, through Pentecost 2025, is the Year of Going Out on Mission,” Sr. Nickel said. “The revival won’t end with the congress, but like ‘Unleash the Gospel’ and our synod in the Archdiocese of Detroit, it’s just the beginning. It’s a marking point.
“When we submit ourselves humbly to the invisible reality of the Eucharist, we realize that when we receive holy Communion, that little host is truly the reality of Jesus right there with us,” Sr. Nickel said. “If people really understood and knew that in their hearts, we couldn’t keep the doors of the churches closed.”
OSV News contributed to this report.
National Eucharistic Revival
- To learn more about the National Eucharistic Revival, including resources for families, clergy, parishes and schools, visit the Archdiocese of Detroit's website.
- To sign up for the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis from July 17-24, 2024, visit EucharisticRevival.org.
- To attend an I AM HERE Lenten holy hour near you, visit iamhere.org/lent.
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