Diocesan News

Spiritual Commute: Riding the 7 Train With Bishop Brennan to the Eucharistic Revival

Bishop Brennan had a conversation with Santa Salomon about the importance of understanding the Eucharist. (Photo: Alicia Venter)

LONG ISLAND CITY — Few things personify New York City quite like the subway. To be among the people he has set forth to serve, Bishop Robert Brennan became a commuter for the day, boarding a 7 train for a public transportation pilgrimage to the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Eucharistic Revival. 

Dozens of pilgrims joined him, singing proudly and chanting as they took the 30-minute train ride from Court Square in Long Island City to Mets-Willets Stadium. Together, they filled the train cars to celebrate with one another before filling the rows at Louis Armstrong Stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park on April 20.

“That’s what we’re about — meeting people where they are. That’s what the Lord himself did, right? Life is down here in the subways,” Bishop Brennan said.

Santa Salomon does not often take the subway. But for the revival, the Department of Education teacher had made up her mind long before April 20 to forgo the car for the train, joining her fellow Catholics at Court Square in the early hours on Saturday. She did not come alone; her sisters joined her on the 7 train.

“I’m a devoted Catholic. Anything that has to do with Jesus, I try to participate as much as I can,” said Salomon, a parishioner at St. Joseph Patron Church in Bushwick. “I woke up this morning, and I was so excited. I think it was like a perfect morning.“

It was Bishop Brennan’s presence, in large part, that helped make the journey so meaningful for Salomon. To her, attending the diocesan Eucharistic Revival meant reinforcing her core belief that Jesus Christ is fully present in the Eucharist. 

Bishop Brennan greets the pilgrims who are in the train car in front of him. (Photo: Alicia Venter)

“It’s amazing. I feel so blessed to be here on the same train. I don’t have any words,” Salomon said. 

The Eucharistic Revival is part of a nationwide effort to remind Catholics of that core tenet of the faith. In 2019, a study revealed that only one-third of U.S. Catholics believe in transubstantiation, and across the country, events have been held by the Church to change those numbers. 

“I want us to be renewed in our union with each other as a family of God and really rejuvenated in our faith and our belief in Jesus Christ as among us in the Eucharist,” Bishop Brennan said.

Patricio Valencia was another one of those pilgrims who joined the bishop. The Elmhurst native initially traveled away from the stadium to ride alongside him. A St. Bartholomew’s parishioner, Valencia came to the first pilgrimage train stop to maximize his time on the pilgrimage journey.

He felt particularly compelled by the Hispanic representation amongst the faith-filled riders. Diversity is a core aspect of the revival, with the bishop requesting the diocesan choir represent all of Brooklyn and Queens, and for there to be numerous cultural performances throughout the day.

“I am so proud about it. Thank you bishop and to the diocese, because they have united the diocese in their communities or their cultures. It’s good for us, for everybody,” Valencia said. 

As the bishop stood flush against one wall in the packed train car, he was surrounded by ecstatic individuals heading to the revival. They played Spanish faith music from their phones, and the bishop joined them in singing loudly.

“[It’s], for example, like going to a Mets game, to tell you the truth,” Msgr. Sean Ogle, chairman of DeSales Media Group, the parent company of The Tablet and Currents News, said on the train. “But this is more special than that. It is packed with people who are joyful and faithful.

Bishop Brennan and the parishioners were joined by faithful from the train car in the front of the train. (Photo: Alicia Venter)

Nearly a dozen members of the NYPD joined the pilgrims on their journey, ensuring an extra level of protection on the train. DeSales’ External Affairs team, the NYPD, and MTA were responsible for the logistics of thousands of people on different pilgrimages — one by train and three on foot.

“It’s a public manifestation of the faith. And it’s all centered around the Eucharist. It’s so beautiful. There’s no alternate agenda. It’s not politics. It’s not power. It’s not a demonstration. It’s love and faith,” Msgr. Ogle said.