If you have been paying attention to the Catholic media in the United States over the past year or so, you are probably aware of the three-year Eucharistic Revival that is underway here in our county. But perhaps it is not so clear why this effort is underway. I found the following description from the official Eucharistic Revival website to be an excellent summary:
The difficulties and challenges over the last few years have shed lights on the Church’s need for healing, unity, formation, and conversion. More than 30 percent of Catholics have not returned to the pews post-pandemic, and recent data reveals that the majority of Mass-going Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The past decade has also seen the rise of the “nones” among the millennial generation, with more than 40 percent now self-identifying as “unaffiliated” with any religion. Many young Catholics find the faith to be irrelevant to the meaning of their lives and challenges.
Since the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, we have great faith that a renewal of our understanding and love for the Eucharist is necessary for the Church as we move forward.
The first year of the Eucharistic Revival is to be a Year of Diocesan Revival, and it officially began on Corpus Christi this past June. In our diocese, we have chosen to make a slight adjustment to the timeline and have decided to have our diocesan Year of the Eucharist begin this coming Thursday, December 8. Given that our diocese is under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception, this seems to be a fitting time for us to begin. It also just so happens that this coming year will mark the 100th Anniversary of the transfer of the See city of our diocese from Alton to Springfield. To mark that milestone, Bishop Paprocki will kick off our diocesan Year of the Eucharist with Mass at Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Alton, the church that served as the Cathedral when the diocese was located in Alton. The year will conclude with Mass at our own Cathedral Church on December 8, 2023. Please also mark your calendars for October 28, 2023, as we will be hosting an all-day diocesan Eucharistic Congress at the BOS Center here in Springfield. That day will highlight various activities and speakers, including Bishop Robert Barron and Dr. Scott Hahn. The day will conclude with a grand Eucharistic celebration involving thousands from throughout our diocese.
As we begin this year, I acknowledge there is a lot that is yet to be determined about how we will observe this special time. But we know that the Lord will bless it since the goal is for us to draw closer to His greatest gift of Himself in the Eucharist. Perhaps the most important thing for us to do now is to pray for the success of this year, and who better to turn to than to our Blessed Mother whose feast day on December 8 will mark the bookends of this Year of the Eucharist. I am therefore issuing an invitation to add an additional Hail Mary to the three that so many of you have been saying for our parish since last January. As a reminder, those three Hail Mary’s are for: 1) the clergy of the Cathedral Parish, 2) for the parishioners of the Cathedral Parish, and 3) for yourself individually. With this 4th Hail Mary, let us ask Mary’s intercession that this Year of the Eucharist might be fruitful for our diocese, our parish, and ourselves!