June 24, 2022

The gift and the challenge of the Eucharist come into focus in the start of the eucharistic revival

Catholics from across central and southern Indiana follow a float carrying the Blessed Sacrament during a June 19 eucharistic procession on Illinois Street in downtown Indianapolis. The procession was part of the start of the National Eucharistic Revival in the archdiocese. (Photo courtesy of Cantaloupe.tv)

Catholics from across central and southern Indiana follow a float carrying the Blessed Sacrament during a June 19 eucharistic procession on Illinois Street in downtown Indianapolis. The procession was part of the start of the National Eucharistic Revival in the archdiocese. (Photo courtesy of Cantaloupe.tv)

By John Shaughnessy

As the joyous sounds of church bells echoed through downtown Indianapolis on June 19—celebrating the arrival of the archdiocese’s uplifting eucharistic procession along the streets of the city—about 1,000 people poured into St. John the Evangelist Church, filling it to overflowing for adoration of the Eucharist.

(Video of the event | Photo gallery)

Being a part of that breathtaking moment at the start of a three-year eucharistic revival in the archdiocese deeply moved Jane Pollom. So did an encounter she had before entering St. John, as she followed the procession along Georgia Street.

“There was a young man standing on the street,” recalled Pollom, a member of St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis. “I asked him if he knew what was happening. When he said he didn’t, I explained the Eucharist to him. I told him that Jesus is coming out to you in the streets.

“I explained to him that Jesus wants him to partake of him. He asked, ‘Can I come in?’ I said, ‘Yes, come in and kneel down in adoration.’ He did. I just told him to open his heart. He’s in there kneeling down now. If all of this can win a heart, it’s a success. It’s an opportunity for the rest of us to invite people on the street to see the real presence of Jesus.”

Pollom’s story was just one of many from the sun-kissed, blue-sky day—a day when the essence of Christ’s teaching about the gift of the Eucharist overflowed throughout the start of the archdiocese’s eucharistic revival.

Take this gift into your heart and your soul.
Take this gift into the world.
Take it knowing that this gift is the fulfillment of God’s love for all people.

The hope of the Eucharist

Joe Wilhelm felt both the stress and the responsibility of being the driver of the float that transported the monstrance containing the Eucharist through downtown Indianapolis and to St. John Church.

“I worried every time I hit a bump,” Wilhelm said with a relieved smile after the completion of the 1.7-mile journey of the procession from the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center at 14th and Illinois streets to St. John. “I felt I was riding the brake the whole time.”

Driving his red pickup truck, the Purdue University senior and member of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis was also responsible for setting a comfortable pace for the estimated 500 people who participated in the procession—a crowd that swelled to nearly 1,000 by the time the procession entered St. John. (Related story: Beauty of the Eucharist shines forth during holy hour in downtown parish)

Still, through it all, Wilhelm focused on “the honor to be able to pull the float with the Blessed Sacrament on it to start this eucharistic revival.”

“The Eucharist is what everything should revolve around,” he said. “It keeps us on track and keeps Jesus in our lives. It’s both comforting and fills me with hope—just to have the feeling that Jesus is present with us, and he’s guiding our lives.”

The shared love of the Eucharist

At 7 years old, Faye Allen came well prepared for taking part in the procession with other girls and boys who recently received their first Communion.

While wearing the dress she wore when she received the Eucharist for the first time at St. Luke the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis, Faye also had her water bottle, wore her gray sneakers and carried her white rosary, a gift from her godparents. Equally special on this Father’s Day, she also had the blessing of having her dad to walk with her.

“Our faith is the centerpiece of our life,” said her dad, Matt Allen. “It’s important to model for your kids the importance of your faith.”

Brian Tomlinson had the same goal when he and his wife Kristyn brought their three children to witness the procession. As the float carrying the Eucharist passed by them, the family members from Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis knelt on the hot street—a common occurrence among the people who lined Illinois Street to watch the procession.

“We wanted to make sure our children know the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” Brian said. “It’s the source and summit of our whole life—the very reason for our existence. It’s a perfect example of God’s relationship with us—his absolute desire to remain with us and love us despite our efforts to separate from him.”

By the time the procession reached St. John, Faye and Matt Allen found a small measure of shade after the long journey.

Asked how she felt, Faye smiled and said, “Good.” And then she added, “Tired.”

Nearly 1,000 worshipers filled St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis on June 19 for a holy hour and Benediction that was the conclusion of the start of the National Eucharistic Revival in the archdiocese. (Submitted photo by Julie Motyka)

Nearly 1,000 worshipers filled St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis on June 19 for a holy hour and Benediction that was the conclusion of the start of the National Eucharistic Revival in the archdiocese. (Submitted photo by Julie Motyka)

The joy of the Eucharist

As the two friends prepared to take part in the procession, Javeona Kirby and Deysi Garcia beamed as they shared their thoughts of recently being received into full communion of the Church at Easter at St. Joan of Arc Church in Indianapolis.

“I’m very happy because I love the Eucharist,” said Kirby, 21. “I just like it when a lot of Catholics are together. Before I became Catholic, I liked to be with Catholics, and now that I’m Catholic, I’m very happy.”

Garcia glowed as she talked about another one of the great blessings for her as a young adult of 19.

“I love being able to find people of my age wanting to continue in their faith and growing as a whole. It just shows that God is in everyone’s hearts, even young people.”

The unity of the Eucharist

Working side by side, Cheryl Bergin and Mayra Sacanamboy embraced one of the main goals of the archdiocese’s eucharistic revival—bringing the hope, love and promise of the Eucharist to fulfillment through acts of service to people in need.

Before the procession, they were part of several teams of volunteers who helped pack 13,000 meals to be shipped to Ukrainian refugees. About 1,500 care packages of personal hygiene items were also assembled for people who request help from Catholic Charities and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in the archdiocese.

“I always ask Jesus for ways I can help,” said Bergin, flashing a huge smile. “I love saying ‘yes’ to Jesus. That’s why I am here. It’s the joy of Jesus. He wants to smile at everyone, so he uses my face.”

A member of St. Agnes Parish in Nashville and St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus, Bergin says her joy and her service are directly related to her love of the Eucharist.

“The closer I am to the Eucharist, the more I have peace and clarity in my life.”

Sacanamboy shares that feeling.

“When you do things for others, you put into action what we as Christians should do,” said the member of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus. “It’s meaningful. It gives me a sense of peace to help.”

The Eucharist also gives her a sense of connection.

“Every time we have the Eucharist, we have Jesus inside us. In our parish, we have people from different places around the world, and there are a lot of different languages. But the feeling that we are all one brings us together. We are one family.”

The promise of the Eucharist

Christ’s promise in the Eucharist was once again at the heart of the two Masses—one primarily in English, one primarily in Spanish—that were celebrated at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral to start the eucharistic revival.

In the first Mass, the one in English, Father Patrick Beidelman held up the host during the consecration and repeated the life-giving offer that Jesus made to his disciples at the Last Supper, “Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body, which will be given up for you.”

Then, raising the chalice of wine, Father Beidelman—pastor of St. Mary Parish and rector of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, both in Indianapolis, and executive director of the archdiocese’s secretariat for worship and evangelization—said, “Take this, all of you, and drink from it. For this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.” (Related story: Diverse community of faith at heart of liturgies opening Eucharistic Revival)

For that first Mass, Andrew and Jenna Cain brought their six children, ranging in age from 11 to 1, with their seventh child due in September. Being there was another way for the members of St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg to try to keep the promise of the Eucharist at the center of their family’s busy life.

“It helps us to not take it for granted and to renew our gratitude for the Eucharist, and to help to make it more of a priority in our lives,” Jenna said.

The invitation and the challenge of the Eucharist

After being part of the day’s events, Ginny and Pat Maher viewed the start of the eucharistic revival as both an invitation and a challenge.

“Just an awesome event—just to consider you’re honoring the body of Christ in such a spiritual and community way,” said Ginny, a member with Pat of

SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral Parish in Indianapolis. “It’s neat to see the blend, the diversity of people. It’s one of those events that if you experience in your lifetime, you’re blessed.”

Pat noted, “You can seriously see the Holy Spirit in action today. Plus, it was fun going around talking to some of the families whose children had made their first Communion.

“I remember my first Communion. It was at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in May of 1963. I hope in this eucharistic revival that people remember their first Communion and how special it was, and how special it can be now.”

He paused and smiled before adding, “Having that bread for the journey, it’s amazing.” †

 

Learn more about the Eucharistic Revival at eucharisticrevivalindy.org

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