By SueAnn Howell
(OSV News) – The National Eucharistic Congress, in partnership with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Augustine Institute, has released a seven-part video series to help parishes nationwide launch small group communities to grow in faith and love for the holy Eucharist.
The guided series is hosted by Montse Alvarado, president and chief operating officer of EWTN News, and Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis. The initial small group series released Sept. 14 titled, “Jesus and the Eucharist,” is the first of seven weekly sessions available on the revival’s online “LEARN” platform.
Each session opens with an exhortation from a different bishop; includes teaching from prominent theologians and influential figures in the church today; and highlights personal testimonies from everyday Catholics who have experienced the transformative power of Eucharistic love in their own lives.
The four pillars that uphold the movement of the National Eucharistic Revival are reinvigorating worship, personal encounter, robust faith formation and missionary sending. The “Jesus and the Eucharist” series was created as a tangible underpinning to the third pillar of formation.
“Our hope is that the fire which burned in the hearts of the first Christians begins to burn in our hearts in a new and powerful way, so that we can’t help but share with others what is burning within us,” Bishop Cozzens said in introducing the series. “When that happens, when we become missionaries to the whole of the Good News of our salvation in Christ, then we fulfill in our time the Great Commission which Jesus has given to us: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.’”
Each of the lessons lasts about two hours, and the format consists of both a video and table discussion component with shared testimonials along the way and designated times for prayer.
“This study is a great ‘out-of-the-box’ solution for parishes,” explained Joel Stepanek, chief operating officer for the National Eucharistic Congress. “Parishes simply need to train table facilitators and a core team to implement the study, set up a hall with tables that can seat roughly eight people, and press play.”
Session 1, called “Our Story,” offers initial background with the story of God, creation and our place in it. Sessions 2, 3, and 4 key in on the themes of Jesus, salvation and the church, and explore why God chose to establish the Christian Church. Sessions 5 to 7 focus on the sacraments of the church, specifically the transformative power of the Eucharist and its biblical roots.
“Jesus and the Eucharist” was developed specifically for the revival’s parish year by a team of Catholic experts working closely with the National Eucharistic Revival, and every parish in the country is encouraged to begin using the study. New lessons are now available for download every Thursday through Oct. 26 on the Eucharistic Revival website, eucharisticcongress.org.
Individuals also may access the free online series if unable to participate in a parish program.
Kris Frank, chief mission officer for the National Eucharistic Congress, said, “The hope is that the series will provide a renewed sense of formation around the Eucharist and also assist parishes in launching ongoing small group communities and initiatives. We want this to be more than just a series; but, as Bishop Cozzens says, this revival is all about a fire and not so much about a program.”
The National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year initiative of the USCCB kicked off June 19, 2022, the feast of Corpus Christi. It is a movement in the United States to restore understanding and devotion to the holy Eucharist. The revival includes a cross-country pilgrimage starting in May 2024 and culminates with the first National Eucharistic Congress in 83 years, to be held July 17-21, 2024, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
(SueAnn Howell writes for OSV News from North Carolina.)
NOTES: The National Eucharistic Congress website is https://www.eucharisticcongress.org. The LEARN platform, with access to the “Jesus and the Eucharist” video series, is listed under the REVIVAL section.