Diocesan News

Many Thousands Gather to Celebrate Diocesan Eucharistic Revival in Flushing

Bishop Robert Brennan celebrates Mass at the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Eucharistic Revival on April 20 at Louis Armstrong Stadium at in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. (Photo: Paula Katinas)

FLUSHING MEADOWS-CORONA PARK — A deep love for Jesus Christ was etched on Lina Then’s face as she sat in Louis Armstrong Stadium awaiting the start of the Diocese of Brooklyn’s first Eucharistic Revival on Saturday morning, April 20.

According to diocese officials who organized the day, the goal of the Eucharistic Revival was to reinforce a central truth of the Catholic faith — that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist and that holy Communion is not some sort of symbol of Jesus, but it is Him. 

Then, who is a parishioner of Blessed Sacrament Church in Cypress Hills, believes that wholeheartedly.

“He is in the Eucharist, I know that,” said Then, who is also a member of the Comunidad Siervos de Cristo Vivo, a Catholic lay organization that promotes adoration, evangelization, and transformation through Jesus Christ.

Then, who was one of the 6,500 pilgrims who came from all over the diocese to be there, was in high spirits as she walked into the tennis stadium for the Eucharist Revival. “I hope that the Holy Spirit will be here to transform people’s hearts so that they will see the truth about Jesus,” she explained.

The diocese’s Eucharistic Revival was one of the grassroots gatherings taking place across the country as part of the National Eucharistic Revival, an initiative launched by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2022.

A worshiper joins in the Mass at the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Eucharistic Revival on April 20 at Louis Armstrong Stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. (Photo: Michelle Powers)

The USCCB requested that dioceses across the nation organize their own Eucharistic Revivals.

Louis Armstrong Stadium is normally a place where tennis stars compete in the U.S. Open. But on Saturday, there were moments when this sports venue felt like a church. There were also moments when the joy and energy were so palpable, the stadium took on the feel of a rock concert.

The day was filled with memorable sights and sounds, including a Mass, an Angelus, praise and worship, witness testimonies, the rosary led by young people who had taken part in World Youth Day in Portugal last summer, and a Eucharistic procession in which a monstrance carrying the Blessed Sacrament was held aloft for all to see.

The air was filled with live music, including a rousing medley of “He’s Got the Whole Word in His Hands” and “This Little Light of Mine” sung by a choir of young people and adults under the direction of Joseph Murray.

There were 60 priests, 20 deacons, and 15 seminarians seated on the court. The stands were filled with the faithful from at least 35 parishes in Brooklyn and Queens.

‘We Must Have That Real Encounter With Jesus:’ Bishop Brennan Preaches In Eucharistic Revival Homily

Saturday was a special day for the diocese’s newest Catholics, who were baptized at the Easter Vigils at their parishes on March 30. A section was set aside on the court level for neophytes so that they could enjoy a close-up view of the altar.

And it was a special day for participants like Shaden De Leon Cruz, a parishioner of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Jamaica, who was one of five young people who led the recitation of the rosary.

“With the world today, we need prayer more than ever,” said Cruz, who is the coordinator of the altar servers at her parish.

Darren Butan, a 13-year-old eighth grader at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Academy in Cypress Hills, sat in the mezzanine section. He was so excited at the thought of the Eucharistic Revival that he convinced his aunt Martha Green to accompany him.

“I’m hoping to learn something today. There are a lot of churches here and there’s going to be a lot of speakers. I want to hear what they have to say,” he said.

The stadium was filled with banners bearing the names of the participating churches. Parishioners from those churches sat near the banners and cheered wildly as Bishop Robert Brennan entered the arena. 

Several of the priests and deacons coming into the stadium couldn’t hide their excitement, waving to the crowds as they walked in.

There was also time set aside for prayer and contemplation. The diocese set up an adoration chapel in Section 8 of the stadium for the faithful to engage in silent prayer. And during a break in the morning, priests were available to hear confession.

At the center of the day’s proceedings was the love everyone expressed for Jesus Christ and their desire to be closer to him.

Bishop Brennan, who celebrated Mass from an altar placed on the tennis court, told the faithful that their presence was important because they were taking a first step in the Eucharistic Revival — moving closer to Jesus Christ.

“Before we can speak about belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, we must have that real encounter with Jesus,” he said in his homily. 

“It is necessary to believe he exists, that he lives even today and that he is concerned for me. We need to know him, not simply to know about him but really to know him, to love him and see him as relevant to our lives,” he added.

In a memorable moment befitting the Diocese of Brooklyn — a diocese where people from all over the world attend Masses on Sundays — Bishop Brennan invited the faithful to pray the Lord’s Prayer in their own languages. The result was a United Nations of prayer as the Our Father could be heard in several different tongues.

Bishop Brennan took an usual route to the revival. He boarded a No. 7 train at the Court Square station in Queens, greeted pilgrims who joined him at stops along the route, got off at the Mets-Willets Point stop and led a group of pilgrims on foot from the subway station to the stadium.

Parishioners from three Queens churches — St. Michael’s Church in Flushing, Our Lady of Sorrows in Corona, and St. Leo’s, also in Corona — took part in processions that started at their churches and took them to the tennis stadium.

Father Joseph Gibino, vicar for evangelization and catechesis for the diocese, called the Eucharistic Revival “a great moment for growth and prayer and excitement for the Church.”

The National Eucharistic Revival will culminate with the National Eucharistic Congress, which will take place July 17-21 in Indianapolis.

(Photos: Geony Ayyad)