What is a National Eucharistic Congress?
One of the key moments in the pastoral preparation for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress is the celebration of a short National Eucharistic Congress on June 25th and 26th of this year.
People from every diocese will gather together in Knock on June 25th and there will be a liturgical celebration in each diocese the following day, June 26th, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.
While they are not so common here in Ireland, Archbishop Martin reminds us that “Eucharistic Congresses are in fact very common in the life of the Church. In Italy this year one of the central events of the programme of evangelisation is a National Eucharistic Congress to be held in Ancona in September. National Eucharistic Congresses have been held in recent times in many other countries, including in the United States, Spain, Brazil and even in Cuba.”
If we are hosting the International Congress next year, why have a national one this year as well?
There are a number of good reasons. It is good to have a focus on the local community, but every individual Christian and every parish community benefits from being reminded occasionally that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. For the first time in many years, the Irish Church will celebrate our faith in Jesus Christ and in one another together as one body.
Secondly, our national Eucharistic Congress will be a particular moment of renewal in our own preparation to welcome the universal Church, as we prepare to welcome people from all over the world in June 2012. We have already had clear indications that, as well as having pilgrims from places with obvious Irish connections, such as USA, Canada, Australia, Britain and mainland Europe, there will be pilgrims in 2012 from Taiwan, the Philippines, India, the Ivory Coast and many of the countries of Latin America.
On Saturday 25th June, pilgrims will travel from every corner of Ireland, some arriving in time for a celebration of Morning Prayer in Knock at 11am. This will be followed later in the morning by four workshops on themes related to Communion and Eucharist, which will be repeated on Saturday evening and again on Sunday morning.
Space will be limited and people will be invited to register on line in advance for these workshops, which will be presented by Fr. Kieron O’Mahony OSA, Prof. Robert Enright, Rosemary Swords and Fr. Tom Norris. Full details will be posted shortly on this page.
The heart of the National Congress at Knock will be the celebration of the Eucharist, preceded by the anointing of the sick. The first reading at Mass on that day is the account of the hospitality of Abraham from the Book of Genesis. It is a powerful reminder of how, even in Old Testament times, people were aware of how God enters into our lives, draws us into communion with Him and forms us into a people of His very own.
During the Mass, a large candle with the Eucharistic Congress Logo will be blessed for each of the twenty-six cathedrals in Ireland. These will be brought back to each diocese to be placed at the centre of a diocesan celebration on June 26th. As we continue our preparation for 2012, these candles will be a reminder of Christ’s presence in each diocesan community and of the communion of the Irish Church.
National Eucharistic Congress, Knock (Schedule of Events)
Details on the workshops and Speakers
Fr. Kieran O’Mahony - Workshop 1: Recognising the Body: St. Paul responds to a divided church
Fr. Kieran O’Mahony is a member of the Augustinian Community at Orlagh Retreat centre. He is diocesan academic co-ordinator of Biblical Studies in the Archdiocese of Dublin. Fr. Kieran has taught at Milltown Institute and Mater Dei Institute. He is also one of the facilitators of the Word-on-Web Programme. Among his many publications are: Do We Still Need St Paul? A Contemporary Reading of the Apostle: Dublin, Veritas, 2009, and What the Bible Says about the Stranger. Biblical Perspectives on Racism, Immigration, Asylum and Cross-Community Issues Dublin , The Churches’ Peace Education Programme, 1999
Prof. Robert Enright - Workshop 2: Forgiving and Remembering in New Ways
Robert Enright is a Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in America. He has been a leader in the scientific study of forgiveness and its effects since 1985. Time magazine referred to him as “the forgiveness trailblazer.” He is the author of over 100 publications, including five books: Exploring Forgiveness, Helping Clients Forgive, Forgiveness Is a Choice, The Forgiving Life (currently in production), and a children’s book, Rising above the Storm Clouds. His colleagues and he have been in Belfast, Northern Ireland since 2002, assisting schools in setting up forgiveness education programs.
Rev. Prof. Thomas Norris - Workshop 3: 'From receiving Holy Communion to Building up Communion'
Fr Tom Norris is a priest of the Diocese of Ossory. He has done parish work and retreats. He was professor of theology in St Kieran's College, Kilkenny, and later at St Patrick's College, Maynooth. He has written on topics such as the Eucharist, the Church and Spirituality. One such book carried the title, 'Living a Spirituality of Communion.' He is a member of the International Theological Commission of the Vatican.
Ms. Rosemary Swords - Workshop 4: Helping children to pray with the Blessed Sacrament
Rosemary Swords is leader of the Elijah Fellowship in Dublin and a director of the Elijah Team, a full-time ministry for evangelisation and catechesis. She chairs the Adoration Sub-Committee of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress.
Other events associated with the National Eucharistic Congress in Knock
- Knock Youth Festival: 24th, 25th and 26th June 2011
Each year, on the last weekend of June, the Knock Youth Festival takes place. This year the Youth Festival, with its own workshops and special events, will be part of the National Eucharistic Congress. Young people will gather in large numbers for a weekend of reflection and celebration. Many of them will go later in the Summer to the World Youth Day in Madrid. During Mass on Saturday 25th, they will be commissioned to go to Madrid as pilgrims and witnesses of Christ. For more information on the Knock Youth Festival, please click here: http://www.knock-shrine.ie/youthfestival/
- 25th June 2011: The St Joseph’s Young Priest’s Society Pilgrimage to Knock
The annual pilgrimage of the St. Joseph’s Young Priest’s Society will also be incorporated in the National Eucharistic Congress. For more information, log to http://www.stjosephsyoungpriestssociety.com/
- 26th June 2011: National Franciscan Pilgrimage to Knock
Eucharistic Congress Bell and the National Eucharistic Congress
The journey of preparation for the International Eucharistic Congress is well underway. It is richly symbolised by the pilgrimage of the Eucharistic Congress Bell, which has already passed through the parishes of Northern Ireland and is gradually working its way through the rest of the country. The Eucharistic Congress Bell will be taken to Knock for the National Eucharistic Congress.
Four Icons have been commissioned to accompany the Eucharistic Congress Bell on its pilgrimage around Ireland, and they represent the four stages of our pastoral preparation for the Congress as follows:
- The Icon of Our Lady of Refuge represents the Assembly (ekklesia in Greek)/ Gathering.
- The Pantocrator Icon represents our being gathered to be nourished by God’s Word.
- The Icon of Elijah being fed by the Raven prefigures the Sacrament of the Eucharist with which we are nourished to become the Body of Christ.
- The Icon of Pentecost represents the mission which flows from our celebration of the Eucharist, to build up the bond of communion with one another through our service and through the work of justice.
The first two icons have already been blessed, one by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and the other by Cardinal Sean Brady.
The Pentecost icon will be blessed on Pentecost Sunday by Archbishop Dermot Clifford (Cashel and Emly) and the Icon of Elijah and the Raven will be blessed by Archbishop Michale Neary at morning prayer in Knock on June 25th.
Read more about the Eucharistic Congress Bell here.
The National Eucharistic Congress will take place in Knock, Ireland's National Marian Eucharistic Shrine, County Mayo. For more information on the Shrine and how to get there, please click here.
1) Come to the National Eucharistic Congress
The National Congress in Knock is open to anyone that wants to attend. You can come as a group with your own parish or as an individual.
Participation in the liturgical events and workshops is free. People will, however, have to register to participate in the workshops, as space is limited.
Please note that there is a registration fee associated with the Knock Youth Festival, which is associated with the National Eucharistic Congress this year. More information here: http://www.knock-shrine.ie/youthfestival/
There will be a special location within Knock Shrine where journalists will be able to meet and receive information. While media accreditation will not be necessary, we encourage journalists to let us know if you are planning to cover the event, so that we can have media materials ready for you and we send you the appropriate information. Please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteers will be needed for this national event. If you are interested in becoming one of our volunteers, please register online here.
3) Join the events being oganised in your local parish/diocese
Many events are being organised in local parishes/dioceses to prepare for the National and the International Eucharistic Congress. Click here to see what is happening in your diocese or contact your diocesan delegate.
4) Be part of the Pastoral Preparation Programme of Preparation
IEC2012 has prepared a Pastoral Programme of Preparation in four steps that can help you prepare for the National and the International Eucharistic Congress. Join a group in your parish or diocese that is meeting to go through this programme or get together a group of people that would like to start the journey with you. For more information on the Pastoral Programme of Preparation, please click here.
5) Pray for the fruits of the National and the International Eucharistic Congress
Pray that these events will be fruitful for the Irish and the world’s Catholic Church. Why not download the International Eucharistic Congress official prayer and include it in daily prayers. Download the prayer here.
We have also included on our website further prayer, educational, catechetical and spiritual resources that can be downloaded here.
There are costs associated with the organisation and running of both the National and the International Eucharistic Congress. We would really appreciate whatever help you can give us to make this great events happen. Click here to read more about donations.
7) Keep informed on what is going on
Subscribe to our newsletter where we update those who have signed up with information on what is new in the preparations to the National and International Eucharistic Congress. Subscribe here.
- General enquiries on the National Eucharistic Congress, please click here
- Youth Festival Enquiries, please click here
- To contact the Knock Shrine, please call +353 (0) 94 9388100 or log to http://www.knock-shrine.ie/Contactus
- If you want to contact the delegate in charge in your own diocese, click here.