Eucharistic Congress recalls Pope John Paul II

Sister Mary Karen Toomey, of the Sisters of Life, delivers her keynote address the evening of April 2 at the Eucharistic Congress for College Students and Young Adults. Sister Toomey's talk was entitled "The Culture of Life: The Legacy of John Paul II" and discussed the late pope's legacy promoting the Gospel of Life. Pilot photo/ Jim Lockwood

NORTH END -- This year's Eucharistic Congress recalled the memory of late Pope John Paul II.

"He's one of the greatest popes who ever lived," said Josh Dell'Aria, 21, a junior at Anna Maria College in Paxton and parishioner at St. Charles Borromeo in Woburn. "He was always talking to young people and about young people."

The fourth annual Eucharistic Congress for College Students and Young Adults, held this year on April 1 and 2 at Sacred Heart Church in Boston's North End, was themed "Be Not Afraid," and celebrated Pope John Paul II, who will be beatified May 1. The event drew over 400 people.

It was co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Boston's Vocations Office and the Office for the New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults.

Friday evening's events included witness talks by Father Roger Landry of the Diocese of Fall River, and vocations director of the Archdiocese of Boston Father Dan Hennessey.

Father Landry's talk was entitled "Pope John Paul II and the New Evangelization" and Father Hennessey's presentation was titled "The Pope John Paul II Monstrance."

Following the talks, eucharistic adoration was available throughout the night with the host displayed in a monstrance blessed by Pope John Paul in 2004 and given to the Church in North America. That year, he blessed six monstrances and gave one each to the Church in six continents to promote Eucharistic adoration and vocations.

The same monstrance was used for evening adoration and the eucharistic procession Saturday night through the streets of the North End.

"I think it is very significant in that one of the reasons John Paul II had the monstrance made and sent it to the United States was for that purpose -- that many young people would come to see what their call in life was," Father Hennessey said.

Saturday's events included a talk by Andreas Widmer, which explored how young adults can integrate their faith with their work.

Now a Boston-based business consultant advising business executives on promoting just business practices and innovative solutions to poverty, Widmer was member of the pope's Swiss Guard from 1986 to 1988.

Following Widmer's talk, attendees went to various locations in and around Boston to perform service projects.

Kathy Reda, a lead organizer of the congress, said the purpose of the service projects is to combine faith and good works.

"They're not two separate silos," she said. "We have to be witnesses and live our lives for Christ."

Chelsea Kelley, 18, a freshman at Framingham State University and parishioner at Holy Rosary in Gardner, went to Father Bill's Place, a Quincy homeless shelter, for spring cleaning.

"It kind of opened your eyes to all the things you should be thankful for," she said.

Suzette Pocsics, 29, came to the Eucharistic Congress all the way from St. Catharine Church in Pelham, N.Y., near New York City. For her service project, she helped make rope rosaries, which she called a "peaceful project."

"It symbolizes the fact that we need more prayer in this world," she said.

After the projects, participants returned to Sacred Heart Church for Mass with Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley.

During the Mass, the cardinal wore a purple chasuble with the seal of Pope John Paul II on the back. The cardinal later explained that it had been a gift from the head of the Swiss Guard after the late pope's funeral in 2005.

During his homily, the cardinal discussed the centrality and importance of the Eucharist to Catholics.

"The Eucharist is Christ's saving presence in the community and our spiritual food is the most precious possession we can have in our Church's history," Cardinal O'Malley said.

He also discussed the Eucharist's impact on living the Catholic life.

"The Christian who takes part in the Eucharist learns to become a promoter of peace in every situation," he said. "May we be transformed by our contact with the Eucharist and be energized to promote the Gospel of Life and a civilization of love."

Dinner for all attendees was donated by the various Italian restaurants of the North End.

Following dinner and a session of praise and worship music provided by Jon Niven and his band, Sister Mary Karen Toomey, of the Sisters of Life, gave a talk entitled "The Culture of Life: The Legacy of John Paul II."

Sister Toomey discussed John Paul's impact in the present day.

"He brought us out of the culture of death and into a culture of life, out of darkness and into light," she said.

"John Paul II knew that true happiness is only found in the Eucharist," Sister Toomey also said.

She also said how the pontificate of John Paul II helped her to more thoroughly embrace her faith as a young adult Catholic.

"He was mine," she said. "But more importantly, I was his. He claimed me as his own in Christ."

Her talk was followed by eucharistic adoration and the procession through the streets of the North End.

Joining Cardinal O'Malley, the attendees processed with the monstrance blessed by Pope John Paul from Sacred Heart Church to nearby St. Leonard of Port Maurice Church where the Blessed Sacrament was reposed. During the procession, they carried candles and sang adoration hymns. Twice along the way and once in the Peace Garden at St. Leonard's, adorers stopped and knelt before the Blessed Sacrament.

As the procession was going, passersby and bystanders stopped and took interest in the proceedings.

Father Matt Williams, head of the archdiocese's Office for the New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults, said that when planning the Congress, organizers noticed April 2 was the sixth anniversary of Pope John Paul's death.

"Every year we try to feature a different saint. We thought 'what a great contemporary Catholic hero to feature -- John Paul II," Father Williams said. "In the midst of planning, the Vatican announced John Paul would be beatified. It turned out to be a prophetic decision."

Attendees reflected on the impact the late pope continues to have.

"His whole theology of the body is essential to the youth of today," said Elisabeth Reer, 20, a junior at Boston College.

"You don't hear a lot about that," she also said. "It's very encouraging to know the pope is concerned about the well-being of women and men."

Billy Cunha, 36, of St. Anthony Parish in Lowell, also reacted positively to this year's Congress theme.

"We've never had such an outgoing pope as he," said Cunha. "He was a friend to the youth. He was a friend to the old. He was a friend to all."

Father Hennessey said Pope John Paul was highlighted during the two-day event because of his love for youth.

"Even after his passing to the Lord and his entrance into eternal life, he still inspires us," he said.

Nation
CRS sells fair trade coffee, supporting Mexican farmers and land

Baltimore, Md., Sep 24, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Catholic Relief Services is now offering fair trade coffee beans that will benefit local farming communities ...

World
The Jesuit who survived the KGB

Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 24, 2018 CNA.- When Pope Francis visited a former KGB building in Vilnius, Lithuania Sept. 23, Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius ...

World
Next step toward artificial reproduction violates human fundamentals, ethicist warns

Washington D.C., Sep 25, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Artificial human reproduction appears to be on the horizon with Japanese scientists’ claim to ...

World
Scandals create outrage, but there is time for conversion, pope says

TALLINN, Estonia (CNS) -- In what is probably the least religious country in Europe, Pope Francis said he is surprised by how many people hold firm to ...

Nation
Catholic leaders oppose administration's plan to limit green cards

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic leaders are speaking out against a Trump administration proposed rule announced Sept. 22 that would deny green cards to legal ...

Nation
Head of Georgetown Prep urges renewed commitment to being 'men for others'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a letter to the school community, the president of an all-boys Jesuit high school in suburban Washington emphasized the schools' ...

Nation
Today is 'hour of the laity,' Archbishop Gomez tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Hispanic Catholic leaders are living an important moment in the history of the Catholic church in the U.S. and are called to ...

World
Stay close to the suffering, forgive one another, pope tells Latvians

AGLONA, Latvia (CNS) -- What would Mary do? was the question Pope Francis, in effect, asked Latvian Catholics gathered at their nation's popular Marian ...

Nation
Joy, hope contagious for Encuentro participants as they discern priorities

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Joy, hope, energy and a spirit of continued collaboration are contagious among the participants of the Fifth National Encuentro, ...

World
Update: Pope in Lithuania: Don't let anti-Semitism, hatred resurge

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Outside the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, Pope Francis ended a day of paying homage to victims of totalitarianism and ...

World
God is patient, even with failures, pope tells young Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Meeting young Lithuanians in Vilnius, Pope Francis said he wanted a relaxed conversation, like they were sitting in a pub ...

World
Update: Vatican signs provisional agreement with China on naming bishops

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced. Pope ...

World
Find strength in tolerance, solidarity, pope tells Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- In Lithuania, a nation that experienced invasions, atrocities and persecution, Pope Francis began his visit with a plea to ...

Nation
Ospino: Encuentro reflects 'energy, maturity' of a church 'here to stay'

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- The thousands of Hispanic Catholic ministry leaders gathered in Texas for the Fifth National Encuentro shared views on the maturity ...

Nation
N.J. cardinal won't attend synod, asks to remain home at 'time of crisis'

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he ...

Nation
Detroit Archdiocese welcomes investigation into Michigan dioceses

DETROIT (CNS) -- Michigan's attorney general has opened an investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by clergy in all of Michigan's seven Catholic ...

Nation
Catholics believe in God but 'don't believe in us,' Miami archbishop says

MIAMI (CNS) -- The crisis the Catholic Church is facing is not "a crisis of faith" or "mainly about a crisis of sexual abuse by clergy," but is "a crisis ...

Nation
Update: Disney animator says grounding in Catholic schools led to success

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Ron Clements is a renowned animator, screenwriter and producer-director of award-winning Disney films, including the blockbuster ...

Nation
#WhyImCatholic movement aims to share hope at difficult time for church

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Catholic Extension has launched a new social media campaign called #WhyImCatholic to offer "hope and unity" for Catholics by inviting ...

Nation
Continue to be an evangelizing church, nuncio tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Quoting from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel," Archbishop Christophe Pierre encouraged Hispanic Catholic ...

Nation
Encuentro opens with procession, papal message, prayers for abuse victims

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- A video message from Pope Francis and a procession of Encuentro crosses representing all of the participating episcopal regions ...

Nation
Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Nation
Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

World
Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Local
Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Local
Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

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 ...

Local
Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Local
Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Local
Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

Nation
N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

Nation
U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Nation
Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

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, ...

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
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 ...

World
Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...