The 50th International Eucharistic Congress took place in Dublin from the 10th to 17th of June. The build up to this event was met with trepidation with people wondering if the participation would justify the cost and whether this was the right time for such a large religious event to take place in Ireland.
How these questions and anxieties were answered is quite amazing. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that; “The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life” and this was evident during this Eucharistic Congress with many people from all over the world uniting in this Congress’ theme; “The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with one another”. Beginning with a crowd of 12,500 on the opening day of the Congress, participation steadily rose through the week to its culmination at Croke Park Stadium with 75,000 participants.
There was a wonderful atmosphere during the Congress of joy, hope and common identity. This could be felt first of all at the R.D.S (Royal Dublin Society) where the Congress was held from the 10th to the 16th. At this venue, there were exhibition halls, youth spaces, prayer spaces and the main arena where mass was held every day. For the final event of the Congress, on June 17th, all participants gathered for the final mass in Croke Park Stadium celebrated by Papal Legate, His Eminence Marc, Cardinal Ouellet. The final mass was a life altering experience for anyone involved, a stadium full of people sharing their identity, celebrating their faith and looking to a future of renewal as one, is something you don’t get at ‘Croker’ on a typical Sunday afternoon!
It was great for the Salesian’s to have been involved at the 50th Eucharistic Congress. We had an exhibition stall in the main hall. We had many visitors for all over the world approaching us to tell us of their devotion to Don Bosco and their love of the Salesian’s. It was extraordinary just how many people from different countries spoke of their knowledge of the Salesian’s. It was also great to have school and youth groups, including ‘Teen Spirit’ from Prosperous, visit the stall as well as some of the many past pupils and co-operators of the Salesian’s in Ireland. One of our most notable visitors was His Eminence Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, Salesian Cardinal, who impressed everyone just by his presence! He spoke of the need to “irradiate the faith” in an impressive speech to some of the volunteers manning the stand.
Also involved was Fr Eunan McDonnell SDB, a speaker at the Congress, who delivered a great lecture on The Body of Christ: From Creation to Communion. Another Salesian speaker was Fr Jack Finnegan, who as part of a team delivered a workshop on spiritual direction. These were but two of the many great speakers at the Congress. Other Speakers included His Eminence Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga who gave a workshop on the Celebration of the Eucharist and Fr Timothy Radcliffe who gave a great talk on; Spirituality for Today, Suffering and Healing.
‘A Resounding Success’, the 50th International Eucharistic Congress is a sign of great hope and renewal for both the Church in Ireland and worldwide. For the multitude of people who attended, their participation will bear many fruits for themselves, their families and their parishes wherever they may be. As Salesian’s, to be involved in such a great event is a privilege. Any opportunity to promote the work of the Salesian’s and the spirituality of Don Bosco is one which must be seized and this opportunity was one which was certainly not passed by. As His Eminence Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga said; if Don Bosco were alive- he would certainly have been at the Congress, seeing as the Eucharist is one of the pillars of his Salesian spirituality. It is through the Eucharist and our Communion that we look into the future as one international Church, and this Eucharistic Congress was one great step on that path forward!
Many thanks to the Youth Pastoral team who organised our participation in the Congress and designed the Salesian exhibition stall for the event. The week would not have been the success it was without the help of the many volunteers who manned the stand under the co-ordination of Fr Michael Browne and Sr Dympna Clancy, so many thanks to all of you for your commitment and joyfulness throughout the week of the Congress.
A final acknowledgement goes to Padraig McDonald, one of the driving forces behind this venture, he kept the show on the road in the build up to the Congress.
Have a look at the video below entitled ‘Eucharistic Congress 2012’, which gives a synopsis of the Congress as a whole.
Also check out our photo album dedicated to the Eucharistic Congress.
Dave O Hara