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Young adults energize faith at eucharistic congress

Hundreds of young adult Catholics gathered for two days of worship and talks at the archdiocese’s Eucharistic Congress for College Students and Young Adults March 28 and 29 in Boston’s North End. Pilot photo/ Neil W. McCabe

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NORTH END -- Hundreds of young adult Catholics joined Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley for the first eucharistic congress in the historic North End March 28 and 29 where they adored the Eucharist, attended lectures, performed service projects and conducted a eucharistic procession.

“Your presence here is one more sign of the Lord working in your hearts,” the cardinal said to the congress during his homily at the Mass he celebrated in anticipation of Divine Mercy Sunday.

The Boston Eucharistic Congress for College Students and Young Adults was the synthesis of different aspects of the Catholic experience, said Father Daniel F. Hennessey, director of the Vocations Office. Father Hennessey planned the gathering with Father Richard Clancy, director of the Campus Ministry Office and Father Matt Williams, director of the Office of New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults.

“We wanted to have many dimensions to it. We wanted the participants to learn about and come to have a deeper understanding of the friendship Christ has for us and experience his presence among us,” said Father Hennessey. “Then, we wanted to bring him to others through service.”

Saturday afternoon, March 29, the young adults fanned out to 17 service providers to the elderly, the homeless, the archdiocese and the unborn, said Elizabeth C. Ward, who with Thomas K. Lyman, coordinated the service projects effort.

Ward said five of the projects were at the congress’ homebase at St. Stephen Church across from the Paul Revere Mall on Hanover Street. The furthest projects were the yard cleanup at Father Bill’s Place, a homeless shelter in Quincy and the praying of the rosary at the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic at 1055 Commonwealth Ave. in Brookline.

At the abortion clinic the 16 young adults gathered to offer peaceful witness to the sanctity of life, said the project’s leader Justin Bell, a media relations professional who is putting together a film on Catholic faith in action, which will include the eucharistic procession that closed the congress.

A veteran of more than 15 similar witnesses at abortion clinics, Bell said it is important to observe all laws that prevent protests within 35 feet of the clinic. “There is a yellow line painted on the sidewalk and when we got there a security guard came out to make sure we were the right distance.”

Bell said many of the people walking past the building seemed confused as if they had no idea there was an abortion clinic there. “They would look at us praying and then look at the building and then understand.”

The group got glares from individuals going in and out of the building and a couple of young men called them “losers,” he said. “The rest told us we were doing the right thing.”

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