Eucharistic congress seeks to inspire young adults to serve others

BRIGHTON -- A eucharistic congress geared toward college students and young adults will be held March 28-29 in the Boston’s North End.

The congress, a free event, will take place at St. Stephen Parish. Meals and the closing of each evening will be held at St. Leonard of Port Maurice Parish, also in the North End. It is jointly organized by the Vocations Office, Campus Ministry Office and the Office for the New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults.

“Jesus comes to me every morning in holy Communion, and I repay him in my very small way by visiting the poor,” Father Daniel Hennessey, director of vocations for the Archdiocese of Boston, said quoting Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.

“Those words speak to the heart of the upcoming Eucharistic Congress,” he said.

Organizers hope college students and young adults attending the congress will deepen their understanding of God’s gift of the Eucharist and his call to serve others, he added.

On March 28 registration will begin at 6 p.m., followed by prayer, music, witness talks, adoration, confession and a talk entitled “Eucharist: A Mystery of Transformation” by Father Matt Williams, director of the Office for the New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults.

The following day the congress continues from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and attendees will participate in service projects, a Mass with Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley and a eucharistic procession through the streets of Boston. Speakers will include Father Peter Cameron, OP, editor-in-chief of Magnificat Magazine, and Paul George, co-founder of Adore Ministries. Dinner will be provided by various North End restaurants.

Father Hennessey said that any eucharistic congress seeks to bring Catholics together to worship the Lord and inspire them to bring the Lord to the people in their lives as Blessed Pier Giorgio did.

A role model for young adults, Blessed Pier Giorgio gave what little he had to the poor of Turin, Italy. He died of polio at the age of 24 in 1925.

The Boston congress is different in that it is geared toward young adults and presents them with the opportunity to participate in service projects, he said.

“Just as in the Eucharist Jesus makes a gift of himself to us, it is my hope that the young adults and college students who attend the eucharistic congress will come to see more clearly in what way they can be like Christ and make a gift of their lives,” he added.

Elizabeth Ward, the congress’ service outreach coordinator, said attendees can choose one of 20 different service opportunities such as assisting parishes with small tasks, praying the rosary outside an abortion clinic and visiting the elderly, homeless or retired priests.

Ward, also the service coordinator for the young adult group at St. Clements Eucharistic Shrine in Boston, said she hopes that the congress will show young Catholics that even the simplest and most menial tasks are valuable if done for the Lord and for others.

“We’re really talking about what the Eucharist means to us and the need to receive Jesus and then go and bring him to others in the service capacity,” she said.

Ward is also looking forward to bringing Jesus to others in a different way, through the eucharistic procession at the close of the congress.

“I love the idea of the eucharistic procession through the North End and our ability to witness to our love of the Lord in the Eucharist in such a public way,” she said.

Father Richard Clancy, director of the Campus Ministry Office, said the procession and adoration will testify to the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

“We all feel that it is very important that young people have a personal encounter with Jesus,” he said. “Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist -- body, blood, soul and divinity.”

Ward added that students on campus and young adults in the workplace can often feel isolated. At this gathering, they will be able to share their energy and faith and feel the support and friendship of others who are following the Lord.

Father Williams said he hopes the congress will be a positive experience of the Catholic Church for young adults and an opportunity to tighten their bonds to the Church -- universally and locally.

Cardinal O’Malley, head of the local Church, has a “passionate, strong” desire to reach out to young people, he said.

“He is their shepherd, and he wants to be with them and to pray with them,” he said. “This is a priority for him.”

Participants can register online at http://www.eucharisticcongress.org.

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