PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The newly appointed executive director of the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress, Tim Glemkowski, said he envisions the event as a powerful moment of “unity and communion as a Church, that leads to a renewed mission in a public witness,” which changes lives and hearts, and propels the Church into the future.
“The dream and the hope is that coming out of that event, for all those in attendance, but also as a witness to the world, people have experienced that encounter with a person in such a way that it gives their lives a new horizon and it’s a decisive direction,” Glemkowski told The Tablet. “We want to send missionaries out into the world.”
Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, chair of the board of the National Eucharistic Congress, announced Glemkowski’s appointment to the role on April 4, calling him “a real leader with a heart on fire for Jesus Christ and a desire to invite people to encounter his love in the Eucharist.”
Glemkowski comes to the role from the Archdiocese of Denver where he served as the director of strategy with a focus on the archdiocese’s mission. Prior to that, he founded and served as president of the L’Alto Catholic Institute which focused on evangelization at the parish level.
Glemkowski said those experiences at the archdiocesan and parish level allowed him to “see and experience the heart of the Church” in a way that uniquely prepared him for this new role. The National Eucharistic Congress, however, is a different beast — an event the likes of which the U.S. Catholic Church hasn’t carried out since 1976.
That said, Glemkowski is confident that God has a plan for the U.S. Church to see it through.
“I believe very much so in what a unified Church across the United States can do in terms of doing great things for God and I’m not naive to the challenges in front of us, but I hope very greatly in the fact that God is doing something unique in our time and he’ll see it accomplished.”
The 2024 National Eucharistic Congress is the culmination of a three-year Eucharistic revival initiative the nation’s bishops approved at their fall 2021 general assembly in November.
The campaign begins on June 19 — the feast of Corpus Christi — with dioceses nationwide carrying out Eucharistic processions.
This kicks off a year of Eucharistic revival at the diocesan level until June 11, 2023. Then, a year of Eucharistic revival at the parish level begins and lasts until July 17, 2024, when the four-day National Eucharistic Congress begins.
Glemkowski, who has served for about a year-and-a-half as a consultant to the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, described the process as “two years on pilgrimage leading up to this Congress and then this great missionary sending for those in attendance.”
The National Eucharistic Congress will take place in Indianapolis. It has an attendance goal of 80,000, and a price tag of $28 million that will come together through admission fees to the conference, donors, and other partners and collaborators. It’s the first gathering of its kind in the U.S. since the 41st International Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia in 1976. The event brought together 1.5 million people, including 44 cardinals and 417 bishops.
To describe the impact he hopes the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress will have, Glemkowski also highlights the impact of the 1993 World Youth Day, which bore fruit that lasted and led to a number of conversions and vocations that “changed the landscape of the U.S. Church.”
Glemkowski noted that a key to the event’s success is reaching those on the margins. He said they plan to give scholarships to those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend, but in general, it’ll take efforts from Catholics around the country to make the conference far-reaching.
“At the end of the day, where people encounter the gospel is in that accompanying one-on-one relationship, and so we need millions of Catholics who are initiated into the art of accompaniment that teaches us, like Pope Francis says, ‘to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other,’ ” Glemkowski said.
Glemkowski’s role as executive director of the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress begins on May 1.
“We have to tell people because we want to see this fire start burning everywhere across the United States,” Glemkowski said. “It’s not a program. It’s a movement, so we don’t want people to wait, and so we have to help those fires start burning at churches across the United States.”