International News

Pope Francis Offers Blessing for U.S. Bishops’ Eucharist Initiative

Pope Francis blesses a four-foot-tall monstrance, a chalice, and a paten as Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minn., looks on during an audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace June 19, 2023. The blessing took place during the pope’s meeting with members of the organizing committees of the U.S. National Eucharistic Congress and Eucharistic Revival. (Photo: CNS screengrab/Vatican Media)

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — A year ahead of the National Eucharistic Congress that is part of the U.S. bishops’ three-year eucharistic revival initiative, the efforts have received a blessing from Pope Francis.

In a private audience on June 19, the Holy Father extended his apostolic blessing on the 10th National Eucharistic Congress that will take place July 17-21, 2024, and on the monstrance that about 50 pilgrims will carry into the event.

The U.S. bishops launched the National Eucharistic Revival initiative in 2021. The first year was focused on the diocesan level. The second year, which launched earlier this month, is focused on the parish level. The final phase begins in May 2024, when 48 “perpetual pilgrims” spread out at four separate locations across the country will embark on a two-month pilgrimage to Indianapolis for the start of the National Eucharistic Congress.

The congress will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium. The pilgrims will converge outside of the stadium at the end of their journeys to carry the monstrance inside. The monstrance is Mexican-made and four-feet-high, and pays homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Pope Francis called the congress “a significant moment” in the life of the U.S. church.

“The National Eucharistic Congress marks a significant moment in the life of the Church in the United States,” Pope Francis told the congress’ delegation.

“May all that you are doing be an occasion of grace for each of you and may it bear fruit in guiding men and women throughout your nation to the Lord who, by his presence among us, rekindles hope and renews life,” he added.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, chair of the National Eucharistic Congress, said Pope Francis blessing the congress and monstrance was “a wonderful gift.

“This was truly a unique spiritual opportunity as part of our country’s preparation for such a historic moment in our Church’s life,” Bishop Cozzens said of the meeting.

Bishop Cozzens traveled to Rome to meet with Pope Francis alongside Tim Glemkowski, the congress’ executive director; Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana; and other members of the congress’ board of directors, organizers, and staff.

“It was so important to gather together as a team in the presence of Pope Francis and ask him to bless the event, the monstrance, and the work we are doing to prepare tens of thousands of people to encounter Jesus Christ, truly present in the Eucharist,” Glemkowski said.

At the June 14-16 U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ spring general assembly, Bishops Cozzens said the bishops are about two-thirds of the way to their $28 million fundraising goal, and he “doesn’t anticipate difficulty getting to the end.”

Bishop Cozzens, chair of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, said there are about 25,000 people signed up for the congress so far, and he envisions reaching 75,000 and potentially exceeding the needed 75,000 to fill Lucas Oil Stadium.

He said it’s a “generational moment” for the U.S. church that the bishops should embrace.

“I invite you to invite your people to come,” Bishop Cozzens said. “I’m confident that if we bring our people here the Holy Spirit will affect them in profound ways and set them on fire for mission as they go home, helping us in the United States to make that missionary conversion as a U.S. Church.”