Partnership between the Archdiocese of Detroit, Hallow app a response to U.S. bishops' call for National Eucharistic Revival
DETROIT — It was 3 a.m. during a parish-sponsored retreat, and Marie Wilkie of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Farmington Hills was in her pajamas, drowsily sitting before the exposed Blessed Sacrament in the chapel.
Wilkie wasn’t very familiar with Eucharistic adoration, but she was drawn to the presence of the Lord before her.
While chaperoning students on a trip to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Karen Ervin of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth stumbled into an adoration chapel. Following the example of the nuns praying before the Blessed Sacrament, she sank to her knees. Overwhelmed with emotion, Ervin got up to leave, and Christ clearly spoke to her, saying, “Stay with me.”
Over and over again, Christ calls out from his exposed place in the adoration chapel and invites his beloved children to stay with him, to sit in silence and be present with him — “I am here,” he says.
These stories are at the heart of the new I AM HERE campaign, a partnership between the Archdiocese of Detroit and the Hallow app created to support the U.S. bishops' three-year National Eucharistic Revival and to inspire people to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist and experience his transformative power.
The revival will kick off locally June 19, the feast of Corpus Christi, when Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron will lead a two-mile Eucharistic procession from the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament to Sacred Heart Major Seminary.
The I AM HERE campaign is a way to respond to the call from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a “uniquely Detroit way,” said Emily Mentock, associate director of strategy for the Archdiocese of Detroit's Department of Communications.
“Dioceses across the country are going to emphasize adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist through things like Eucharistic processions, holy hours, and Eucharistic congresses," Mentock said. "But we know, here in the Archdiocese of Detroit, the power of testimony and witness in unleashing the Gospel.”
The I AM HERE campaign will include a website, iamhere.org, and social media channels featuring stories of individuals whose lives have been impacted by Eucharistic adoration, as well as a series of free audio meditations on the Hallow app to help people pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
The campaign also aims to partner with parishes to expand adoration opportunities and encourage parishioners to submit their own stories.
The campaign include stories of people from all walks of life and from different backgrounds and experiences, Mentock said. The website will feature written testimonials, and one featured story will be shared each week with a photo essay and an in-depth, first-person account.
“Hopefully, people will be able to connect with some of the stories,” Mentock said. “They might see similarities in a person's life, but also be opened to the possibilities of all the different ways that Jesus can transform people. Hopefully, we'll be able to help people encounter Jesus' Real Presence in the Eucharist, and inspire them to go and meet him there.”
The campaign will feature one story every week until the National Eucharistic Congress in July 2024, said Edmundo Reyes, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Detroit. Over two years, more than 100 individual stories will be shared.
“In addition to these featured stories, people are invited to submit their own stories to be published on the website," Reyes said. "So we hope to have hundreds, if not thousands, of stories as witnesses to this transformative power of the Eucharist.”
The archdiocese has partnered with Hallow, a Catholic app featuring reflections and prayer guides, to offer free audio meditations to help people pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
“We believe meditations can help people," Reyes said. "It doesn’t matter if you have never been to adoration or haven’t been a while, these meditations will help you get started."
There are eight meditations written and voiced by Julianne Stanz, a nationally known speaker and writer who serves as director of discipleship and parish life for the Diocese of Green Bay, a consultant to the U.S. bishops' Committee on Catechesis and Evangelization and a member of the executive team for the National Eucharistic Revival.
There is an additional meditation by Bishop Andrew Cozzens, chairman of the National Eucharistic Revival.
“Our mission at Hallow is to help people pray, so this was a natural partnership for us to provide these wonderful meditations to help people as they pray before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament,” said Kevin Cotter, head of content at Hallow. “Our first six meditations take the listener on a journey of encountering Christ in the Eucharist, each centering on a truth about the nature of God: I am with you; I am love; I am the way."
The silence of adoration can be intimidating, Mentock said, so the meditations are a resource to help people encounter Jesus in the Eucharist.
“Even for people who are experienced adorers, the meditations are really great journeys and reflections of the ‘I Am’ statements of Jesus throughout Scripture,” Mentock said. “That brings (people) into the presence of mind and heart that Jesus is there with them in the Eucharist and meets them wherever they are in their brokenness, in their sorrow, in their joy.”
The final component is a partnership with parishes to help them increase awareness and participation in Eucharistic adoration, Reyes said. The hope is to see more opportunities for adoration and to multiply the number of people participating.
The I AM HERE campaign will provide parishes will promotional materials to encourage adoration, but also to share their own stories, Reyes added.
“We want stories to be very, very local and we want parishes that participate to collect stories from their own parish to share back with their own communities," Reyes said. "We want to invite others to be inspired."
Stories don’t need to be miraculous or dramatic, Reyes said; rather, most come from everyday encounters in which Christ makes clear that he is present in the Eucharist.
“‘I Am’ is God's name revealed to us: ‘I am who I am,’” Reyes said. “The name (of the campaign) comes from God's name being ‘I Am.’ ‘Here’ refers to the Eucharist, but it also refers to God being with us in our circumstances, in our brokenness, in our failures, in our hurts. God wants to be with us, and one of the ways He's with us is through the Eucharist.”
Adoration is an opportunity to give one's whole self to Jesus by being physically present with him, Mentock said.
“I think that the culture has an awareness of the importance of silence and meditation in general, but what's really powerful about adoration is that it is a way to go and experience Jesus there and really give your body by being physically present; your mind by clearing away distractions; your heart by opening yourself up to how you might encounter him there,” Mentock said.
“You can really bring your whole self to Jesus. A lot of us pray maybe distractedly in the morning or in the evening or at Mass, but Eucharistic adoration is such a beautiful spiritual practice that has been part of our Church history," she said. "There is something uniquely transformative and powerful about it. So we definitely hope that this campaign through the revival will lead more people to go and meet Jesus there and take time out of their busy lives to make that a priority.”
I AM HERE
The I AM HERE website hosts stories and accepts submissions from those wishing to share their own experiences. One story will be featured each week with a photo essay and in-depth, first-person account of the transformational power of Christ in the Eucharist. Featured stories will be highlighted on the website and through I AM HERE social media on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct number of meditations available on the Hallow app.