By Carol Zimmermann
BALTIMORE (CNS) — The U.S. bishops’ three-year eucharistic revival, which will culminate in a National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis in 2024, is in full swing, according to Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota.
Bishop Cozzens, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, which is spearheading the revival, reminded the bishops Nov. 16 during their annual fall general assembly how they overwhelmingly voted in favor of the revival during their meeting a year ago.
It has “incredible momentum,” he told them, pointing out how the three-year initiative launched this summer on the feast of Corpus Christi with eucharistic processions around the country.
The effort is meant to revitalize Catholics’ understanding of and love for Jesus in the Eucharist. The ultimate goal, said Bishop Cozzens, is that this “this encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist” will move Catholics who have been part of this experience to be missionary disciples who would in turn lead others to the faith.
This first year of the revival is focused on the diocesan level and the second phase next year will focus on the parish level and resources aimed at increasing Catholics’ understanding of what the Eucharist really means.
Part of the impetus prompting this effort was a Pew study in the fall of 2019 that showed just 30% of Catholics understand the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Bishop Cozzens pointed out that a more recent study conducted by Center For Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University had some different findings showing that 50% of Catholics known the teaching on the real presence of Jesus in the eucharist and only 40% believe this teaching. The study also showed that only 15% of Catholics attend Sunday Mass on a weekly basis.
In a discussion with reporters prior to giving his report to the U.S. bishops, Bishop Cozzens said the leaders of this initiative hope to reach those who are not attending church regularly. He said participants will hopefully “invite people not at church to church,” which he said is part of the missionary nature of what the eucharistic revival is all about.
He also hopes many will attend the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress, which can accommodate 80,000 participants. The initial price tag the bishops were told a year ago for the three-day event was $28 million but that has since been reduced to $14 million because of donor support and fund raising. Registration for the event will open in the spring.
Another key part of the congress will be pilgrimages to the event from four sites in the United States with stops at parishes and times of eucharistic processions or adoration en route.
Bishop Cozzens urged his fellow bishops to pray for the revival which he described as a “divine visitation” and a “work of God.”