By MARY CROSBY and DEACON GARRY
What was the The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage and Congress like? This is the question that we, the delegates, have been asked since our return from Liverpool. It is not easy to distil three days of intense experience into a few words. And like any profound experience the effects begin to emerge gradually.
Big events encourage a feeling of identity and belonging, but what made this event different was the aim, which was to encourage a deeper understanding and love of the Eucharist – our encounter with Christ in the Sacrament of the Mass.
Often, we take this great privilege and invitation for granted. But away from home, with a single focus in mind, and accompanied by other Catholics from all over England and Wales, we experienced a sense of solidarity and a willingness to put God first for this special time in our lives.
Pope Francis is quoted as saying, “A people who adore are a people who walk.”
And as with any pilgrimage, we walked – from the docks to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Liverpool, sometimes twice a day, to adore and be spiritually fed.
We were then rewarded with inspirational speakers, notably Bishop Robert Barron whose enthusiasm and love of the Eucharist brought the participants of Liverpool Arena to their feet. He used the term “Call and Response” – the call of Jesus as the Head of the Church, and our response as members of that Church. He emphasised that in responding to Jesus’s call, we, the people, need to respond with prayers yes, but also with actions.
The legacy of the Pilgrimage and Congress will be the actions we are able to put into practice. We have returned blessed, but with more questions than answers. How can we learn to participate more fully in the Mass? How can we foster a love of the Eucharist in our families and parish?
How can we be the hands and feet of Christ to the people of our parish and the world?
We will be meeting with delegates of other churches in our deanery to discuss these and other questions and will continue to feed back and reach out to you.
Our prayer is that we will together read the signs of the times and discern where God is inviting us to follow him. We will refocus our attention on becoming a Missionary Parish, a people with a heart for thanksgiving and service.
Below is the Congress events schedule, with links to the videos of some the various speakers
Friday (Symposium Day)
The Scriptural Context, Canon Mervyn Tower
The Eucharist in the Life of the Church, Canon David Oakley
Teaching the Eucharist, Sr MargaretAtkins
Saturday (Congress Day)
The Mystery of the Mass (Keynote 1) and Sainthood, Sanctity (Keynote 2), both Bishop Robert Barron
Hospitals and Prison, Bishop Paul Mason et al
Preparing children for Sacraments of Initiation, Dora Nash
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Fr Chris Thomas et al
Shalom World TV has all the main talks in video format, as well as other interviews and testimonies
Catholicnews.org.uk has the main talks, as well as workshops and other resources. See the site’s content overview and details of Congress Day.
The following Southwark Preparation Talks, which took place prior to the NEC, can be found on YouTube:
- Scripture and the Eucharist, Fr Nick King SJ
- The Resurrection Narratives, Fr Denis McBride
- Barriers and Obstacles to the Eucharist, Sr. Helen Costigane