I AM HERE impact report shows increase in Eucharistic devotion amidst U.S. revival

Beth Allison prays during Eucharistic adoration at her parish, St. Aloysius in downtown Detroit. Allison was among more than 230 people who shared their stories of Eucharistic devotion through the I AM HERE campaign, an initiative of the Archdiocese of Detroit to support the U.S. bishops' National Eucharistic Revival. (Photos by Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

Eucharistic campaign drew more than 230 personal testimonies over two years, touched thousands of lives through witness

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DETROIT — The Archdiocese of Detroit’s Department of Communications has released a report detailing the impact of the I AM HERE campaign.

I AM HERE was launched in 2022 in support of the National Eucharistic Revival, an initiative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to address declining belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

As a response to sobering statistics showing as many as two-thirds of Catholics expressing doubt in the Real Presence, the Archdiocese of Detroit's Department of Communications launched I AM HERE to focus on the personal witness of the laity, religious and clergy testifying to the power of the Eucharist in their lives.

The result was more than 230 written stories published, 32 podcast episodes recorded, more than 50 special holy hours hosted, 22 dioceses represented, and more than 100 parishes featured in one of the most successful Eucharistic evangelization campaigns in the local Church's history.

“Our goal was to tap into the power of personal testimony,” said Emily Mentock, associate director of strategy for the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Department of Communications. “There are so many resources that teach about the Eucharist, that evangelize with the Eucharist, but we wanted to help people hear from others and share how their lives have actually been changed by Jesus in the Eucharist, and not just promote the theological understanding of it.”

In June 2023, the I AM HERE campaign received national recognition, earning the Fr. John Catoir Social Media Evangelization Award during the Catholic Media Association's annual conference in Baltimore.

I AM HERE’s website features videos and photos in a black-and-white style, highlighting people of various backgrounds detailing their experiences with Eucharistic adoration, as well as podcasts, articles and letters from Catholics across the country. The campaign even featured a billboard in downtown Detroit.

The flip side of two-thirds of Catholics reportedly lacking belief in the Real Presence is that one-third of Catholics do believe Jesus is truly present the Eucharist, Mentock said. So why not use their testimonies to educate and inspire others?

Jordan Beachnau smiles in his home while holding the Bible during a photo shoot. Beachnau was one of hundreds who shared his story of Eucharistic devotion via the I AM HERE campaign.
Jordan Beachnau smiles in his home while holding the Bible during a photo shoot. Beachnau was one of hundreds who shared his story of Eucharistic devotion via the I AM HERE campaign.

“We were inspired by Unleash the Gospel, Archbishop (Allen H.) Vigneron’s pastoral letter, and what he wrote about the power of personal testimony and how important it is for missionary conversion,” Mentock said. “Not just for hearing testimony from others, which is a powerful experience — we are all moved by stories, especially true stories of people’s lives — but also the importance of missionary disciples having the courage to share their own stories.”

Leah Butalid, content coordinator for the I AM HERE campaign, said it's been rewarding to see how the campaign has touched so many lives over the duration of the Eucharistic revival.

“Looking back and seeing not only the numbers and the trends we’ve seen, but the stories we’ve collected, it was inspiring, but also insightful,” Butalid said. “It confirmed what our bishops felt called to do two years ago by launching a Eucharistic revival, that there is absolutely a need for people to return to Jesus in the Eucharist. Through the stories we collected, we saw the power and the impact of what happens when a person does that.”

Butalid co-hosted the I AM HERE podcast with Fr. Mario Amore, director of the archdiocese's Department of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship. Episodes featured interviews with local Catholics whose stories had been highlighted about how the Eucharist has empowered their faith.

The campaign also featured Advent and Lent challenges through the Hallow app, in which participants received daily text messages with informative and inspirational content on the Eucharist, and a trivia campaign in which participants could test their knowledge of the Mass.

The Advent campaign saw nearly 4,000 signups on Flocknote and 13,000 users on the campaign's website, while the Lent trivia challenge saw more than 5,700 signups on Flocknote and 26,000 users on I AM HERE.

Overall, more than 76,000 people visited the I AM HERE website over the life of the campaign, according to the report.

Beyond the downloads and clicks, Mentock said the real success of the I AM HERE campaign has been reports from parishes who have increased time for Eucharistic adoration, and an increase in the number of people who have publicly shared how spending time with the Lord has made a difference in their lives.

Jason Smith, a Detroit influencer from St. Scholastica Parish, shared his testimonial as part of the I AM HERE campaign.
Jason Smith, a Detroit influencer from St. Scholastica Parish, shared his testimonial as part of the I AM HERE campaign.

“I have so much gratitude for everybody who shared their stories, who shared with others stories they were inspired by, and of course our partner who made all of this possible, the Hallow app,” Mentock said. “None of this impact, none of these numbers, would have been possible without the generosity of others, and I’m really grateful to all of our partner parishes who shared their stories with us."

The stories were real, authentic, and sometimes raw, Butalid said.

For example, Butalid recalled a particular witness early in the I AM HERE campaign from a woman who had converted to Catholicism. The woman initially converted because she was marrying a Catholic, but wasn't enthusiastic about RCIA classes and all that was required to enter the Church.

That all changed, however, when she stumbled upon Eucharistic adoration taking place in the parish.

“She just had this profound experience of conviction,” Butalid said. “She didn’t have words for it, but she knew something powerful was taking place, just by sitting in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. That was particularly inspiring for me.”

As the I AM HERE campaign draws to a close, and the Church looks forward to the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis from July 17-21, Butalid said she hopes iamhere.org can remain a source of hope for people seeking answers to discover the true power of God's greatest gift.

“My hope is people who come across these stories or are exposed to the podcast or website, that they would be inspired to tell their own stories, because it does make a difference,” Butalid said. “I hope this remains a tool for those seeking answers, who are looking for hope.”



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