May 13, 2022

Leading people to a deeper love of Christ inspires archdiocese’s ‘National Eucharistic Preachers’

Dominican Father Patrick Hyde delivers a homily at St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington on Nov. 29, 2021. (Submitted photo by Katie Rutter)

Dominican Father Patrick Hyde delivers a homily at St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington on Nov. 29, 2021. (Submitted photo by Katie Rutter)

By Mike Krokos

Dominican Father Patrick Hyde and Father Jonathan Meyer love the Eucharist.

And both have a passion for preaching about the body and blood of Christ.

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson shared these insights when it was announced on May 2 that the two pastors serving in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis are among the 58 priests who have been chosen to serve as “National Eucharistic Preachers.”

Their selections are in support of the multi-year National Eucharistic Revival leading up to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) National Eucharistic Congress to be held in Indianapolis in July of 2024.

Both priests are “very good homilists with a passion for the faith and teaching it to others,” Archbishop Thompson said.

“They have the ability to appeal to various age groups in their preaching, which is a trait of a good homilist. The revival is about reaching minds and hearts in relationship to the real presence of the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.”

Father Meyer is co-pastor with Father Daniel Mahan of the parishes of All Saints in Dearborn County, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Aurora, St. Lawrence in Lawrenceburg and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross in Bright.

Father Patrick is pastor of St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington.

The initiative was established with the goal of awakening a desire among the faithful to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist, and to cultivate a personal devotion and relationship with him in a way that bears fruit in works of charity, USSCB National Eucharistic Revival officials said in press release.

Father Meyer said he did not come to understand the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist until he was a college seminarian.

“I know that sounds odd, but it’s true,” he said. “It was not until I read a prayer book that my mother gave me after I had been accepted as a seminarian of the archdiocese, but [then] I became thoroughly convinced that Jesus is present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.”

An encounter with Jesus in the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the sixth grade helped shape Father Patrick’s belief in the Real Presence.

“I remember sitting there and knowing God’s love. I can’t explain it. I just knew at that moment that I was loved,” he said. “The hook was set. … Throughout my life, in high school and college, especially in moments of doubt and difficulty, waywardness, struggle, sin, it was always the Eucharist and the celebration of Mass … that always gave me hope, that always brought me back.”

As he reflects on his style of preaching, Father Meyer said he has been inspired by the saints, including St. John Vianney and St. John Paul II. He added he also looks up to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

“I also spend time listening to preachers in other Christian denominations, who I think do a very effective job in preaching,” he noted.

Classic theologians like St. Augustine and St. John Henry Newman have influenced Father Patrick’s style of preaching, as well as Msgr. Ronald Knox, an English priest who died in 1957, and Archbishop Sheen.

“Those are all priests and bishops who I looked up to in terms of the way they crafted a homily,” he said.

Like Father Meyer, he also listens to preachers of other denominations and how they present the Gospel “and the story of salvation.”

The process to select the preachers began by asking bishops and religious superiors to submit the names of candidates, explained Father Jorge Torres, a priest of the Orlando, Fla., Diocese who is helping to lead revival efforts at the USCCB.

As the candidates were vetted, some were asked to join the team with an explanation of their role and the time commitment involved. They were also invited to an April retreat in Chicago during which they discerned whether to join the effort.

As National Eucharistic Preachers, the priests will minister throughout the United States during the next two years. They will soon respond to invitations from dioceses to speak at clergy convocations, gatherings of diocesan and Catholic school leaders, at diocesan holy hours and youth and young adult events to help build stronger connections with the Eucharist and build interest in the congress.

In about a year, the priests will begin speaking at parishes and smaller gatherings, noted Father Torres.

“The preachers have been asked to enter into this role because of their love for the Eucharist, their ability to communicate, their schedule for allowing flexibility,” Father Torres added.

Although the initiative means both pastors will spend time away from their ministry in the local Church, the priests said their parish communities are very understanding.

“In speaking with my spiritual director and Father Mahan, the priority that was put forth is the fact that people do not believe that Jesus is present in our midst,” Father Meyer said. “That is a tragedy that needs to be addressed as soon as possible; souls are at stake.”

“I talked with the community in Bloomington, and they were all very supportive,” Father Patrick said.

Father Meyer is eager to preach about the Eucharist as he begins his evangelizations efforts across the U.S.

“I look forward to having the opportunity to inspire people to fall deeper in love with Jesus Christ. Without him, there is no true meaning or understanding of what it is to be a human being,” he said. “A rediscovery of Jesus, most importantly truly present in all the tabernacles of the world, will bring joy, hope and purpose to countless lives.”

Father Patrick, too, prays he plants seeds of faith that are nurtured.

“There is hope and renewal and a revitalization within the Church that starts with our encounter with the Eucharist,” he said of the message he plans to share.

“Put first things first. Put the Eucharist first in your life,” Father Patrick continued. “I hope I can help people realize who and what the Eucharist is, … and once we get there—how we realize who and what the Eucharist is—our life changes, everything changes.”
 

(To learn more about the National Eucharistic Preachers or find out how they can be scheduled for local events, visit eucharisticrevival.org/eucharistic-preachers.) †

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