CONEY ISLAND — The clock is winding down to Oct. 7 and final preparations are underway for the Diocesan Eucharistic Revival, in which thousands of people will gather at Maimonides Park in Coney Island to forge a deeper understanding of their faith and of Jesus Christ’s presence in the Eucharist.
The diocese expects 6,000 people to attend the revival, said Father Joseph Gibino, the vicar for evangelization and catechesis and the revival’s organizer.
As the date for the revival approached, Father Gibino and other organizers from the diocese, including Father Alonzo Cox, Father Carlos Velasquez, and Father Jason Espinal, held a run-through at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights on Tuesday, Sept. 26, with representatives of DeSales Media Group, the ministry that produces The Tablet.
At the run-through, last-minute details were discussed. “We’re in the red zone, ladies and gentlemen. This is it,” said Dominic Ambrosio, director of programming and production for DeSales Media.
The preparations for the revival are so massive that the organizers and the DeSales Media team will be arriving at the ballpark on Friday, Oct. 6, the day before the revival, to set up the altar, banners, and platforms.
On Oct. 7, the gates will open at 8 a.m. The revival gets underway at 8:30 a.m. and lasts until 3 p.m.
As people arrive at the ballpark that day, they will be treated to music from the Jornada Movement Music Ministry, a Hispanic youth movement in the diocese.
At 9:45 a.m., there will be a Eucharistic procession and Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert Brennan.
Songs of praise will be performed by Alverlis, a Catholic singer-songwriter who was born and raised in New York City and who has worked with various religious communities, including the Sisters of Life.
Attendees will hear from two keynote speakers. Deacon Matthew Halbach, a writer and deacon serving in the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa — and the father of six children — will talk about family catechesis.
And there will be a talk focusing on vocations by Father Timothy Anastos, a priest from the Archdiocese of Chicago, who often works with college students on issues of faith.
Music will be a big part of the revival, and it will reflect the rich diversity of the diocese, said Father Gibino.
“One of the things that we were very aware of is the diversity of the community that will be gathered. Bishop Brennan was very anxious to have all the different elements of the diocese,” Father Gibino added.
There will be Latin-flavored music, as well as gospel music. The Diocesan Choir will be among the performers.
The day will have a heavy emphasis on families. “So our hope is to energize families to really be committed to worship and to be committed to the Eucharist,” Father Gibino explained.
It was learned at the run-through that the altar will be erected in the infield of the ballpark, near second base, and platforms (one for clergy and another for singers and musicians) will be placed on either side of the altar.
Fifty-seven priests and deacons have signed on to take part in the big day.
Interestingly, Bishop Brennan has not requested a seat for himself, said Father Gibino. Instead, he prefers to be able to walk around the ballpark greeting the faithful in attendance. “He is overjoyed about this event,” Father Gibino added.
With most of the plans in place, the next step for the diocese and DeSales Media is to finalize everything. “The way we can best prepare now at this point is to communicate with all the different strategic stakeholders and make sure all of those stakeholders are aware of all the moving parts,” Ambrosio explained.
Between the diocese and DeSales Media, some 60 people have been involved in planning and coordinating the revival.
The diocesan celebration is one of thousands of grassroots gatherings taking place across the country as part of the three-year National Eucharistic Revival, launched by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2022. Dioceses across the nation are asked to organize their own Eucharistic Revival celebrations.
The National Eucharistic Revival will culminate in 2024 with the National Eucharistic Congress, which will take place July 17-21 in Indianapolis. There is already a great deal of enthusiasm for the congress in the diocese. More than 250 people have already signed up to go.
The various celebrations surrounding the National Eucharistic Revival are designed to bring Catholics closer to their faith. The idea is to promote a main tenet of the faith — that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Eucharist and that Communion isn’t merely symbolic.
The diocese kicked off its revival with a Eucharistic Adoration Pilgrimage during Lent this year. As part of the pilgrimage, participants were given passports that they could get stamped at each church they visited to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.
“The pilgrimage was very successful,” Father Gibino said. “And so to continue that work, we designed our Eucharistic Revival as a day of prayer, adoration, and celebration.”
In the event of inclement weather, the diocese is making contingency plans. Some of the activities will be moved indoors to the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph. The diocese will work with DeSales Media to record some of the activities to broadcast on NET-TV.
“We will do our best and pray for good weather,” Father Gibino said.