By Charles Igwe
Pope Francis has bestowed his blessing upon the ongoing eucharistic revival initiative of the U.S. bishops, a year before its anticipated culmination. During a private audience on June 19, the Holy Father extended his Apostolic Blessing to the 10th National Eucharistic Congress scheduled for July 17-21, 2024. Additionally, the pope blessed the Mexican-made, four-foot-high monstrance that will be carried by approximately 50 pilgrims to the congress.
The National Eucharistic Revival initiative, launched by the U.S. bishops in 2021, follows a three-year plan. The first year focused on the diocesan level, while the second year, which commenced earlier this month, concentrates on the parish level. The final phase is set to begin in May 2024, when 48 “perpetual pilgrims” will embark on a two-month pilgrimage to Indianapolis from four different locations across the country, culminating in the start of the National Eucharistic Congress at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Expressing his thoughts on the congress, Pope Francis described it as “a significant moment” for the U.S. Church. He conveyed his hope that the congress would be an occasion of grace for all involved and would guide men and women throughout the nation towards the Lord, who rekindles hope and renews life.
Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, the chair of the National Eucharistic Congress, expressed gratitude for the pope’s blessing, describing it as a wonderful gift. Cozzens, along with Tim Glemkowski, the congress’ executive director, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, and other members of the congress’ board of directors, organizers, and staff, traveled to Rome to meet with Pope Francis.
Cozzens provided an update on the congress at the recent U.S. Bishops’ Conference spring general assembly, noting that they are two-thirds of the way towards their $28 million fundraising goal. He expressed confidence in reaching the target, emphasizing that approximately 25,000 people have already signed up for the congress, with a vision of exceeding the required 75,000 attendees to fill Lucas Oil Stadium.
Describing it as a “generational moment” for the U.S. Church, Cozzens encouraged bishops to invite their communities to participate, expressing belief that the Holy Spirit will profoundly impact attendees and ignite their missionary zeal as they return home, assisting in the church’s missionary conversion in the United States.