Columbia parish group makes trip to Eucharistic Congress

COLUMBIA — Thirteen people from Our Lady of the Hills Church were among the estimated 55,000 who attended the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City, Canada.  

The congress is held every four years. Laity and clergy from around the globe join in a celebration of their faith in the Eucharist, worship and catechesis at the event. This year’s theme was “The Eucharist: Gift of God for the life of the world.”

Pilgrims from Columbia made a two-day stop in Montreal, Canada, on the way to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Oratory of St. Joseph and the Shrine of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, where they attended a special Mass.

The congress was held June 15-22. Cardinal Jozef Tomko, president emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, opened the week with a message from Pope Benedict XVI welcoming the international pilgrims.  

Cardinals, bishops, religious and people from every continent gathered to celebrate the Eucharist in an exposition center nicknamed Eucharist City.

Participants had numerous avenues to express their faith, including daily opportunities to attend perpetual adoration, plus celebrations of the Eucharist. Each day began with morning prayer and reflection. Then an archbishop or cardinal representing a different continent delivered catechesis sessions focused on the Eucharist.

Some presenters included Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.; Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, France; Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, of Buenos Aires, Argentina; Bishop Luis Antonio G. Tagle of Imus, Philippines; Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo of Ranchi, India; and Cardinal Christian Wiyghan Tumi of Douala, Cameroon.

The divine liturgy in the Byzantine Rite was celebrated June 16,  followed by workshops on sharing and witnessing.

Eucharist City was transformed into a city of forgiveness on June 19, when priests were present at all corners of the exposition center for Catholics to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. The Blessed Sacrament was processed through the streets of Quebec City that evening.

South Carolinians from Our Lady of the Hills journeyed to the Basilica of St. Anne de Beaupré to visit the shrine and attend Mass on June 20. Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia celebrated Mass for Americans attending the congress.

On the last day, the pilgrims rode buses to the Plains of Abraham, a historic area in Battlefields Park in Quebec City, to attend the closing liturgy. Cardinal Tomko celebrated Mass as the faithful stood in the pouring rain, and those present received a blessing for their perseverance.

Pope Benedict gave the homily from Rome via satellite. He spoke of growing in our faith in the risen Christ alive and present in the Eucharist; a source of love and unity graciously given to us.

The next Eucharistic Congress will be held in Dublin, Ireland, in 2012.

Submitted by Catherine Hood of Our Lady of the Hills.