Fourth annual Eucharistic Congress ramping up

There are no delegates, lobbyists, or votes taken during the 4th Annual Eucharistic Congress for College Students and Young Adults held on April 1 and 2 in Boston's North End.

Instead leadership committee member, Liz Ward described it this way: "A weekend centered around the beauty of Christ in the Eucharist."

Ward was part of the original leadership team of area young adults that helped bring to life a vision held by the vocations director of the archdiocese Father Daniel Hennessey, with assistance from Fathers Michael Harrington, Matt Williams, and Richard Clancy. The weekend has since become one of the crown jewel events for college student and young adult outreach for the Archdiocese of Boston.

It consists of talks from Catholic speakers, service projects, opportunities for silent and guided prayer, access to the sacrament of confession, and Mass with Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley followed by an Italian dinner.

The weekend's pinnacle is a procession with the Blessed Sacrament on Saturday evening, winding through the streets of what is arguably Boston's most traversed neighborhood.

Years back, Father Hennessey had read about a practice of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, a young adult Italian national who lived in the early 20th century and who was called "The Man of the Beatitudes" by Pope John Paul II. Blessed Pier Giorgio would sometimes attend Saturday morning Mass and then bring gifts to the poor and needy. The gifts were carefully wrapped to preserve the dignity of the recipients. One Saturday morning a group of his friends wanted him to go hiking and pressed Frassati about his charitable practice when he declined.

"When I go to receive the Eucharist, Christ enters into my home, and then when I go do acts of charity, Christ allows me to enter into his home, the home of the poor," said Father Hennessy recalling the words of Blessed Pier Giorgio.

This episode stuck with Father Hennessy and he had the idea of bringing a Eucharistic Congress to Boston. Soon, he had the collaboration of Father Michael Harrington who was working with him in the vocations office, and of Father Matt Williams in the Office of New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults.

Father Harrington had recently been in the North End on a warm pleasant evening with the area teeming with people when he was struck with an idea. "I remember thinking, 'We got to be down here on these nights. Look at it, this is Piazza Navona for Boston, this is the place where people gather,'" said Father Harrington, referring to a popular Catholic ministry in Rome that invites people off a busy square into a church for eucharistic adoration.

The priests recruited Catholic young adult and college student leaders to a meeting in November of 2007 to present the idea. After an hour of prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament, Father Hennessey asked the leaders about their thoughts and if they would participate as leaders.

"One after the other of them they all said 'yes definitely,' they'd be very happy to" recalled Father Hennessy.

The initial event drew between 300-400 people and both Father Hennessy and Ward were struck by the number of young people who went to confession on the Friday night and the number of priests there to hear them.

The success of the first Eucharistic Congress led to monthly "Jesus in the North End" nights of prayer, confession, Mass, followed by socials. The events were held at St. Leonard's, one of the North End parishes that has supported the congresses.

This year's congress has taken the messages of John Paul II as its theme, and the second day of the weekend falls on the 6th anniversary of his death. With his upcoming beatification on May 1, areas of his life, witness, and challenge to young Catholics will be explored.

One of the featured speakers will be Sister Mary Karen Toomey from the Sisters of Life. Her talk will address John Paul II's culture of life ethos focusing on the centrality of Jesus.

"One of the things that I love about John Paul II is he helped us see that if you have Jesus, if you have faith, that doesn't mean that you are out of the margins," said Sister Toomey.

"That means you are living life fully, you're having a great time. You know, it's not exclusive, you don't have to wear a hair shirt everyday. You can be a normal person and love God."

Average Catholic, lapsed Catholic or "holy roller," Father Roger Landry, pastor of St. Anthony Parish in New Bedford, is setting the bar high in preparing his talk.

"I always prepare to speak to young people as if I were speaking to future popes, future Mother Teresas, future great saints who will light the world on fire," he said.

"For me as a priest that thoroughly exhilarates me and makes me even more passionate to deliver what Pope John Paul II has already given me and inspired me to pick up when I was a young adult," Father Landry said.

World
Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

World
Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

World
In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Nation
Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

World
Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

Nation
Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

World
Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

World
Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

World
Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

World
Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Nation
Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Nation
Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

World
Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Nation
Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Nation
Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Nation
Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Nation
Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Nation
Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

World
Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

World
Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

World
Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Nation
Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

World
Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Nation
Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

World
Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

World
What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

World
Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Nation
Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Nation
Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Local
Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

World
Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

World
Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

Nation
'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Local
Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Local
Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

Local
CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Local
Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Nation
Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Nation
Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...