Eucharistic Congress, April 1-4: A counter-cultural statement

The Archdiocese of Boston will hold its fourth annual Eucharistic Congress for College Students and Young Adults on April 1st and 2nd at Sacred Heart Church in Boston's historic North End. I have attended the congress every year since it first began in 2008. One of the things I like best about it is that it truly has something for everyone -- great speakers, fellowship, a time of quiet Adoration, an opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, many varied service opportunities, a catered dinner provided by the restaurants of the North End, praise and worship, and a personal highlight for me -- a eucharistic procession through the streets of the North End.

Last year, for the first time, I had the opportunity to experience the procession on Saturday night. Hundreds of priests, religious and young adults walking with the Lord through the streets of Boston united in prayer. Certainly not something you see every day! As we left the church and entered the city streets, the hustle and bustle of the city seemed suddenly hushed. Walking by the restaurants that lined the streets of the North End, somehow the people inside instinctively knew that something special was happening outside. They rushed out of the restaurants onto the streets to try to catch a glimpse of what was going on. There, the secular world and the heavenly collided. So many of the people now lining the streets in a moment could not help but be moved by the powerful witness before them. Although many probably did not even understand exactly what was happening, some instinctively fell to their knees, some began to weep on the sidewalk, some joined in the procession. These people were in awe of what -- or should I say whom -- was before them.

I was deeply touched by the reactions of the people on the street and it made me realize how often I take my Catholic faith for granted. We have such a gift in the Eucharist and so often I forget to have that same awe. What we were participating in struck me as being something so counter-cultural -- especially for young adults. In a world where God is so often overlooked and even condemned, we expose Him for all to see in the most Holy Eucharist. The God we often think of as so far away is suddenly in our midst and moving among His people. And we -- even those that don't really know Him -- are aware that something very different is happening and we're moved to respond. I cannot think of a more powerful witness and I consider it a great honor and privilege to be able to stand up for our God and bring Him out into a world that so desperately needs Him.

Heather Flynn is co-founder of LIFT Ministries and has been involved with youth and young adult ministry for almost 10 years.