Since Pope Benedict XVI announced that the 50th International Eucharistic Congress will be held in Dublin in June 2012, people have been asking "what exactly is a Eucharistic Congress and what is its purpose?"
A Eucharistic Congress is an international gathering of people which aims to:
promote an awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Catholic Church
help improve our understanding and celebration of the liturgy
draw attention to the social dimension of the Eucharist.
The Congress normally takes place every four years. The daily celebration of the Eucharist is at the very heart of the Congress. The wider programme of the Congress includes other liturgical events, cultural events, catechesis and testimonies, and workshops during the week of the Congress. The most recent Congress was held in Quebec in 2008 and was a source of encouragement and renewal for the many thousands who took part.
Most people in Ireland are familiar with the fact that a Eucharistic Congress was held in Ireland in 1932. Our parents and grand-parents speak of it as a significant event in their own experience of Church. Since we started preparing for the Congress, people from all over Ireland and even further afield have sent us a wide range of memorabilia relating to the 1932 Congress, some of which will be on display at a special exhibition in 2012.
Archbishop Piero Marini, President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, explains in greater detail the meaning of a Eucharistic Congress in his address to the Irish Catholic Bishop’s’ Conference in June 2009: The Shape, Significance & Ecclesial Impact of Eucharistic Congresses.