Stage 5 of the Pastoral Programme of IEC2012 is not to be seen as a single session to round off or conclude the experience of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, a sort of tying of loose ends. Rather it is the next step, the continuation of the beginning offered by the first 4 Stages. The Pastoral Programme was not concerned with presenting the Eucharistic Congress, but with the Eucharist itself, and was modelled on the experience of the 2 disciples on the road to and at the table in Emmaus. Each Stage lead participants more deeply into contact with the mystery they are called to celebrate, adore and live. The hosting of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland offered us a context in which to invite every parish community to reflection and study of the ritual and the mystery that is the Eucharist, particularly the Mass and the implications it has for our lives, individually, as a parish community and as Church. The passing of the Congress does not mean that the resources are outdated or of no further relevance.
Each Stage offered catechists a catechetical method and an abundance of resources with which to help participants engage in adult faith development. The insights into the celebration of the Eucharist were provided by a panel made up of catechists, scripture scholars, liturgist and theologians all engaged in pastoral ministry in Ireland. These resources were designed to be used and re-used by parish communities and others who wished to deepen their understanding of and involvement in the Eucharist long into the future, returning to them more times and adapted to different target groups to grow into that Christian maturity to which we are called.
Stage 5 offers on the one hand the layout for a gathering of the parish community post IEC2012, which asks the question ‘what next?’ for a group who did follow the itinerary proposed by the first 4 Stages, while on the other it present first-timers with a gentle introduction to adult faith development. It is based on the events following the return of the 2 disciples from Emmaus, looking at how Christ was to be recognised in the assembled community and in the sharing of their faith in conversation with one another. This image from the gospel is well mirrored in the return of pilgrims from IEC2012, an Emmaus type experience, to their local Jerusalem and the community there with whom they live and worship. The structure presented here can be adapted to facilitate reflection and discussion of any aspect of the Christian life. Its starting point is the experience of those present which is brought into dialogue with faith, and concludes focused on attitudes and actions that are fruit of having encountered the Risen Christ and embracing His mandate for mission.
This is the legacy or fruit of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress. This is not an optional extra for the few, but the call to all to engage in adult faith development, and in turn assist others around them, younger and older, to develop their faith too. May the interest in faith development that rose to new heights during the lead up to the Congress and at Congress Week bear fruit in abundance in our parishes for years to come.
Let's get started!