Immaculate Conception prays for perpetual adoration chapel

GOOSE CREEK—The Eucharistic Congress held at Immaculate Conception Church was a first for the parish, and organizers have high hopes for the miracles it could lead to.

Adorno Father Jason Caganap, pastor, said the success of the parish event March 3-5 — which drew about 600 people — could open the door to a diocesan Eucharistic celebration.

Even closer to his heart is the prayer that the weekend congress will fill people with the power and love of the Eucharist and allow the parish to establish its own perpetual adoration chapel. Currently, the church holds an all-night adoration once a month.

“I’m hoping this will be the fruit to get parishioners really committed,” he said.

The Eucharist is the sacrament in which Jesus gives Himself — His body and blood — for others, so they may in turn be united with Him in holy Communion. It is the reverent celebration of the real presence of Christ in the bread and wine.

All photos, Miscellany/Doug Deas: A religious sister absorbs the atmosphere at the parish Eucharistic Congress.

The idea for a Eucharistic Congress was inspired by Emelie-Marie Tamisier, from France. She started by holding pilgrimages to shrines that conserved traces of Eucharistic miracles, according to Vatican articles. Her goal was to establish gatherings where participants heard talks that provided a deeper understanding of Mass, and focused on the Eucharist. The first congress was held in Lille, France, in 1881.

Immaculate Conception’s parish congress was originally planned for October 2016, the same weekend Hurricane Matthew devastated the coast. Father Jason said being able to reschedule it with all the same speakers was a blessing in itself.

Speakers at the congress focused on theology and catechism related to the Eucharist, while several parishioners gave personal testimonies on how the Holy Sacrifice helped connect them spiritually to the love of Mary and the power of God.

One young lady who spoke described the devastation she felt when she was told she could not have children. She prayed before the Blessed Sacrament and found solace in receiving the Eucharist at Mass. Now she is the mother of three children.

Giving birth was miraculous, she said, especially with her second child, who was declared dead in-utero. The doctors said they could not find a heartbeat, and recommended abortifacients. She prayed at the adoration chapel, along with her fellow parishioners. When she returned to the doctor, her baby’s heart was beating.

“She saw the Eucharist as merciful to her,” Father Jason said.

Annette Griebsch, a member of the church’s St. Francis Caracciolo Eucharistic Adoration Ministry who helped organize the event, said “there were many smiles, some tears, and much inner peace found” at the congress.

“To see the expressed love for Jesus and His Church and the zeal and caring tenderness for all is truly a great expression of Jesus’ outreach to all of us,” she said.

Top photo, Miscellany/Doug Deas: Adorno Father Jason Caganap, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, addresses the crowd.

A participant at the event reacts emotionally to the speakers and the power of the Eucharist.