PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The National Eucharistic Revival has the support of Catholic scouts from throughout the U.S., including the Diocese of Brooklyn.
The National Catholic Committee on Scouting has created a program to help scouts deepen their understandings and devotions to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Also, this “Catholic Scouting Eucharistic Revival Activity Program” is available for all Catholics, not just scouts, said NCCS Chair John Anthony.
The two-page program — downloadable at nccs-bsa.org — has eight Eucharist-focused activities for kids 6 years and older, including projects for the whole family.
Participants can earn special “auxiliary” insignia for completing the activities, to go around a central patch commemorating the revival (inset). These items, however, won’t be available after the three-year revival ends, Anthony said.
“Our hope,” Anthony said, “is that people who engage in this program will grow in knowledge of the Eucharist and, more importantly, grow in a desire to have a personal experience of Jesus in the Eucharist.”
That hope aligns with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops which, in 2021, called for the three-year National Eucharistic Revival. This initiative aims to supplant confusion and disbelief among Catholics that the Eucharist is the true presence of Christ. The Eucharist, according to Church teachings, is revered as the “source and summit” of the faith.
Phase 1 of the revival, the Year of the Diocese, began in June of last year. Phase 2, the Year of the Parish, got underway a few weeks ago on June 11, which, like last year, was on the feast of Corpus Christi — the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
A third phase, the Year of Mission, will be highlighted by the National Eucharistic Congress, July 17-21, 2024 at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis.
NCCS is a financial sponsor of the Congress, and will have a booth on site with information about Catholic Scouting, Anthony said.
“It is a time to reignite our faith, focused on the source and summit of our faith, Jesus in the Eucharist,” said Father Gerard Gentleman, NCCS chaplain and pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Massapequa, N.Y.
Anthony said scout troops can register to attend the Congress and receive lower group rates for youth.
Father Kevin Abels, pastor of Our Lady of Angels Church in Bay Ridge, is also a chaplain for scout troops in Brooklyn.
He encouraged all scouts to attend the Congress. He said “the potential is great” for Catholic scouts to become disciples for the Eucharist.
Father Abels noted that scouts pursuing religious awards are serious participants in Eucharistic Adoration.
For example, his fellow chaplain, Father Chris Heanue, led members of several troops in adoration, May 13, at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph. Father Heanue is rector of the Co-Cathedral and also a former scout.
The scouts visited as part of their coursework for the Ad Altare Dei or Pope Pius XII religious awards. They received their medals June 4 during a special ceremony at Father Abels’ parish.
He said the chaplains explain to the scouts how adoration works. “We tell them, ‘The Lord is really present here, he’s waiting for you, talk to him as you would a friend,’ ” Father Abels said. “They’ll get ideas in their minds.”
Angel Velasco, 17, from Troop 13 in Bay Ridge said he was captivated by what he learned while pursuing the Pope Pius XII religious award.
He said the faith is the underpinning of all relationships between Catholics and society, their families, the Church itself, and Jesus Christ.
“Now that I’m older, I’m able to have a better understanding of what Jesus is about,” he said.
Father Abels, as a kid, did not become a scout. Still, Bishop Emeritus Nicholas DiMarzio selected him to be chaplain for scouting. He has tried to be a role model for these youth, but they, too, have been tremendous examples for him.
“How,” Father Abels asked, “can you not be inspired by the generosity and the service of young people who have a tremendous respect and a love for God, and a profound love and respect for their country?”