Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Eucharistic Congress Highlights Year Of Eucharist For Archdiocese

By MARY ANNE CASTRANIO, Staff Writer | Published May 12, 2005

The preparations are in process, the plans are being set and the prayers are fervently rising to heaven. A dedicated group of volunteers and archdiocesan employees is working with focus and dedication on this year’s Eucharistic Congress, which will be held on Friday evening, June 3, and all day on Saturday, June 4, at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park.

This spiritual event, which is held each year, open to all and brings in thousands of faith-filled, enthusiastic attendees, will offer the gifts of inspiring speakers such as Jim Caviezel, Sister Briege McKenna, OSC, Tom Monaghan, the family of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, among others, along with programs for the whole family, for those young and old, Hispanic, Vietnamese, and persons who are deaf.

Coinciding with this year’s Eucharistic Congress is the 50th anniversary of Archbishop-emeritus John F. Donoghue’s ordination to the priesthood, and bishops of the province, priests and parishioners will pay special homage to the recently retired archbishop. Archbishop Donoghue’s devotion to the Eucharist and his leadership were catalysts for the growth of the Eucharistic Congress and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Atlanta Archdiocese.

Jim Flanagan, a seminarian for the archdiocese who is currently studying at Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., will assist Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory during the procession and at Mass. This is his second year working at the Congress, and he is pleased to be part of the day.

“Yes, I am looking forward to the event,” he said. “The most appealing thing for me is seeing so many people who are fired up about spending a weekend dedicated to Our Lord in the blessed Eucharist. Also, I am particularly pleased with the line-up of speakers, especially with Jim Caviezel. I heard him speak a couple of years ago and was very impressed with his passion and love for the Lord.”

‘Say The Word’ Healing Mass And Service

This year’s Congress brings a new event: a healing Mass and service, which will be held on Friday, June 3, and led by Sister Briege McKenna, OSC, and Father Kevin J. Scallon, CM. Sister Briege is best known for her gift of healing and her deep spiritual insight into the mystery of the call to priesthood. A priest of the Vincentian community, Father Scallan focuses his full-time ministry on priests. Also speaking at the service will be Alan Ames, noted as a healer and mystic, who will also speak in the general track the next day. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and the service, which will include a Mass, will last from approximately 7-11:30 p.m. Music during the service will be provided by Mary Welch Rogers.

Keri Allen, director of evangelization at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta, and one of the organizers of the Eucharistic Congress, noted that having a healing service at the Eucharistic Congress is not a new idea, but rather, a return to the roots of the annual event. Nine years ago, in 1997, one of the early Eucharistic Renewal events in Atlanta was a healing service. It was held at the Atlanta Civic Center, and Sister Briege was one of the leaders of the service that year, too, which was attended by over 4,000 people.

Allen said, “The whole Eucharistic Congress idea began as a healing service … This year we want to change people’s lives.”

Eucharistic Congress: The Main Day

On Saturday, June 4, the doors will open at 7:30 a.m., and a huge procession into the hall will begin at 8:30 a.m. All parishes, schools and ministries are encouraged to participate in the procession.

Adoration and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament will begin at 10 a.m., with Bishop F. Joseph Gossman of the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C., serving as homilist for the morning liturgy.

Following Bishop Gossman’s remarks, Archbishop Gregory, as the spiritual head of the Atlanta Archdiocese, will welcome all those assembled to the Congress. A first-time attendee at Atlanta’s Eucharistic Congress, the archbishop will also be the principal celebrant for the closing Mass at 5:30 p.m.

Music for the morning service will be led by the Cathedral Contemporary Ensemble, directed by Elyn Macek.

General Track

Speakers for the General Track include the following:

Jeff Cavins

Jeff Cavins, a convert to Catholicism, received a master’s degree in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. He and Scott Hahn, Ph.D., taped a 13-week series entitled “Our Father’s Plan” which is a journey through historical periods of the Bible currently shown on the Eternal Word Television Network. Cavins until recently was the host of a nationally broadcast show on the Starboard Radio Network entitled “Morning Air” and is the adult formation minister at the Church of St. Paul in Ham Lake, Minn. His faith story is found in his autobiography “My Life on the Rock.” He is also co-author of the “Amazing Grace” book series, as well as a contributing author for the books “Catholic for a Reason: Scripture and the Mystery of the Family of God” and “Catholic for a Reason II” published by Emmaus.

Alex Jones

Alex Jones was a Pentecostal/Evangelical minister for 25 years before converting to Catholicism. After much research and reflection, Alex discovered both biblical and historical support for the Catholic Church’s claim of originality and apostolicity. He has since led his family and many members of his former congregation to Catholicism. Jones is on the Evangelization Team for the Archdiocese of Detroit and is in his fifth year at Sacred Heart Seminary as he prepares to become a Catholic deacon.

Alan Ames

Alan Ames was born in London in 1953. In his youth, he was a member of a motorcycle gang and went along a path full of violence and alcohol. After his marriage, he moved to Australia with his family. The turning point of his life happened in 1993 when Ames saw his past life displayed before him and experienced how his sins and wrong ways had hurt God. He saw how Jesus offered him forgiveness from the cross. After some struggles, he accepted the forgiveness offered by Jesus. With the Lord’s help, Ames came back to the sacraments and to the church and changed his hatred and pain into love. Later, God called Ames to be one of his witnesses, sent to carry God’s love into the world. He has brought hope and blessing to hundreds of thousands of people—the hope and blessing which he himself draws from his sacramental relationship of love with the Trinitarian God.

Tom Monaghan

Although best known as the founder of Domino’s Pizza and former owner of the Detroit Tigers baseball franchise, Thomas S. Monaghan is currently devoting his attention full time to nonprofit endeavors. These endeavors include the Ave Maria Foundation, for which he serves as chairman of the board. Monaghan established the private foundation in 1983 to focus on a variety of Catholic charities, which now has a special focus on Catholic higher education. In 1998, Monaghan provided the impetus for a major initiative in Catholic higher education with the founding of Ave Maria Institute in Ypsilanti, Mich., the first step toward what would become Ave Maria College, which offers a liberal arts curriculum and prepare students for leadership in academics, professional occupations and service to the greater community.

A resident of Ann Arbor, Monaghan and his wife, Marjorie, have four daughters and eight grandchildren.

Jim Caviezel

Jim Caviezel is an actor whose film credits include “The Count of Monte Cristo,” “The Thin Red Line” and “Angel Eyes.” However, he is best known for his role as Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ.” Born into a Catholic family of five in Mt. Vernon, Wash., his first passion was basketball, but he believes he was called to be an actor. Raised as a devout Catholic, he says he was not always faithful as he matured but felt Mary guiding him back to his spiritual roots. His adult faith has centered on the Blessed Mother and the rosary. He believes that the Eucharist sustains his faith, helps him to turn from sin and draws him to want to be a saint. “Mass is everything to me. It is my life, and that’s what it all revolves around,” he said in an interview with St. Anthony Messenger magazine.

The Schindler Family

Robert (Bob) Schindler, Mary Schindler, Robert (Bobby) Schindler Jr., and Suzanne Schindler Carr are the parents, brother, and sister of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, the young woman who was at the center of an international right-to-life controversy in recent years. They will be sharing the importance of Terri receiving the Eucharist before her death and how the Eucharist has sustained them through their family tragedy.

Russ Spencer

Russ Spencer, FOX5 news anchor, will be the emcee for the general track. Spencer has worked for over 20 years in television. After graduating from Princeton University with a bachelor’s degree in English, Spencer began his journalism career as a reporter and weekend news anchor for WYOU-TV in Scranton, Pa., where he worked for five years. He spent two years teaching sixth grade in Guatemala, Central America, where he also did freelance reporting, learned Spanish and met his wife, Isa, a native of Bolivia. Before returning to the United States in 1990, he went to Nicaragua to report on the presidential election that ended Sandinista rule. Spencer has also been an anchor for WCTI-TV in North Carolina and an anchor and reporter at KMGH-TV in Denver. He has won Associated Press awards for spot and general news reporting. He and his wife and children belong to St. Brigid Church, Alpharetta.

Speakers for the Hispanic Track include the following:

Father José Duván González

Father José Duván González grew up in Medellin, Colombia. He learned as a boy to play the organ and guitar and to sing, and he began performing at 10 in different groups singing and playing guitar everywhere, from buses and cantinas to parks and plazas, to help support his family. He entered Christ the King Seminary in La Ceja, Antioquia, Colombia, at 27 in 1989 and graduated in 1996. He also performed and gave music lessons in seminary to help finance his education.

He was ordained to the priesthood on June 1, 1996, in his hometown parish in Medellin, and his first assignment in the Archdiocese of Atlanta was at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Atlanta, where he served as a parochial vicar from 1996-2000. Since 2000 he has served as priest-in-charge of San Felipe de Jesús Mission, where he took over the Spanish-speaking congregation’s search—over a decade long—for a permanent house of worship and led efforts to secure a building in 2002 in Forest Park and relocate the community there from Grant Park. As a fund-raiser for the mission, he made his first CD entitled “A Mi Cristo Sacerdote” in 2002 for which he sang songs from seminary. In January 2003 he also was appointed as director of the archdiocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry, and in that position is currently working with representatives around the archdiocese to develop a local pastoral plan for Hispanic ministry. Father Duván was also named in 2003 a Vicar for Clergy. He has also been a leader in the Spanish Cursillo movement.

Father Benjamin Bravo-Perez

Father Benjamin Bravo-Perez is a pastor, professor at the Pontifical University of Mexico, professor of the Center of Superior Religious Studies, founder and member of Space for Urban Pastoral, and assessor to the Pastoral Vicariate of the Archdioceses of Mexico. He received a bachelor’s degree in dogmatic theology from the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and a degree in labor from the Cardijn Institute, Brussels, Belgium. His publications include “Vocabulary of Popular Religiosity” and “One Hundred Words To Evangelize a City,” and he served as coordinator of the series “Urban Pastoral” (six volumes) and “The Kingdom of God, Process of Conversion” 1, 2 and 3.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio is originally from Cleveland Heights, Ohio. After earning his undergraduate degree at Boston College, he attended Pontifical North American College in Vatican City and was ordained on May 19, 1977. He attended the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and earned further degrees in theology and in canon law. He also attended the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, an institute that prepares priests for service in apostolic nunciatures and delegations.

In addition to his formal education, Archbishop Broglio served as associate pastor of St. Mary Margaret Church, South Euclid, Ohio. From 1983-87, he was the secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. He was the secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in Asunción, Paraguay, from 1987-90. His duties took him to Rome from 1990-2001, when he was an official of the Secretariat of State, Section for Relations with States. In that capacity, he was secretary for Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who was the Secretary of State for the late Pope John Paul II. He also served as desk officer for Central America.

In 2001, Archbishop Broglio became the Apostolic Nuncio in the Dominican Republic with the responsibilities of Apostolic Delegate to Puerto Rico. He was also ordained titular Archbishop of Amiternum at that time.

Father Elkin Fernando Alvarez Botero

Father Elkin Fernando Alvarez Botero is currently the local secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in Bogotá, Colombia. His studies include philosophy at the Diocesan Seminary of Our Lady, Marinilla; theology at the National Seminary “Cristo Sacerdote”; and license in biblical theology at Gregorian Pontifical University, Rome; and a course in social doctrine of the Church at the Catholic University of the East in Rionegro, Antioquia, Colombia. He speaks Spanish, Italian and English, and he reads French.

Msgr. Otto Garcia

Msgr. Otto Garcia is Vicar General, Moderator of the Curia, and Secretary for Communications for the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y. Born in La Habana, Cuba, he currently serves on the following boards: Board of Directors of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Brooklyn (Corporate Member), the Board of Trustees at St. John’s University, the Presbyteral Council, Diocese of Brooklyn, Secretary of the Board of Consultors to the Diocesan Bishop, and the Canon Law Society of America.

Angel “Cucho” Garcia

Angel “Cucho” Garcia will be the emcee for the Hispanic Track. A member of Regnum Christi, Cursillo, the Hispanic Secretariat—Leader School Section, Spanish Choir “Viva el Señor,” parish Ultreya, and a parishioner at St. Benedict Church, Duluth, Garcia served as the master of ceremonies for the Hispanic track for the 2004 Eucharistic Congress. When he is not spending time with his wife, Tita, their three children and two grandsons, he enjoys playing the guitar and piano.

Youth Track

Speakers for the Youth Track include the following:

Janelle and ONE80

The award-winning French Canadian chanteuse, Janelle, still gets excited thinking about singing for Pope John Paul II and close to 1 million people at World Youth Day in July 2002. The 23-year-old dynamo was chosen from entrants from around the world to not only sing and record the World Youth Day theme song but also to perform with her band 26 times throughout the six-day event in Toronto and for a four-day stint in Ottawa prior to that. Janelle and her current band, ONE80, have been touring throughout Canada, seeking out and accepting every opportunity to grow in their art and in their faith. With a desire to reach youth with music and a message that is positive and offers hope to a hurting world, this artist has a clear objective and the drive, the team and the platform to not only see her dreams come true but to supersede them.

Mike Patin

Mike Patin uses energy, humor and stories to affirm the goodness of God’s presence while inviting others (and himself) to take the “next step” in the journey with God. He has been a speaker for approximately 600 groups in over 60 dioceses, ranging from groups of 10 to 10,000, and he has been the keynote speaker for regional and national youth events, including the National Catholic Youth Conference, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Youth Day and the University of Notre Dame’s Vision program.

Patin holds a master’s degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University of the South in New Orleans. He also has received a certificate in youth ministry studies from the Center for Ministry Development and a certificate of advanced studies in Pastoral Life and Administration from Loyola University.

Since 1984, Patin has worked with teenagers and adults in a variety of settings. He has served as a high school religion teacher, campus minister and assistant coach. He also served in the CYO/Youth Ministry Office for the Archdiocese of New Orleans for close to 13 years. He is a trained facilitator for Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” He has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Notre Dame Graduate School of Theology in New Orleans and has been a trainer for the Center for Ministry Development’s Youth Leader program. He served as a member of the board of directors of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry. He recently served as a consultant for Loyola University (New Orleans) women’s basketball team. Mike Patin lives in New Orleans, with his wife, Marlene, and his daughter, Megan.

Michelle Benzinger

Michelle and her husband Chris are also speakers for the young adult track, “Revive!,” to be held on Friday evening, June 3. They have been missionaries for the past several years with Trinity World Missions, serving first in Europe (the Netherlands and Austria) and then in Mexico. Authors of a 10-week Bible/character study designed for men and women to study together, they are currently writing a women’s Bible study on the Eucharist.

Mark Hart

Mark Hart is a man on a mission: spreading the Gospel. Affectionately known as the “Bible Geek,” Hart passionately shares the Good News with everyone he meets. He reaches tens of thousands of people weekly in his “Spread the Word” e-mails as he explains the Scriptures with humor and relevance, showing how they apply to life today. His fun-loving and comedic personality helps him open teens up to Scripture in a unique way, while bringing to light the depth of what it means to be a Catholic Christian.

Hart is a former teen, CORE member, and youth minister and now proudly serves as vice president of LIFE TEEN, overseeing Evangelization and Media. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and author of three books, Hart does creative work on videos and written resources that are known internationally. In his free time, he travels the globe leading conferences, retreats, missions and trainings for teens and adults alike.

Hart currently lives in Phoenix, Ariz., with his daughter and wife, who is his high school sweetheart and the woman of his dreams. He hopes to one day eat pizza with the pope.

Barb Garvin, the director of youth ministry for the archdiocese, believes that the speakers for this year’s Youth Track are great.

“There’s a good mix of information,” she said. “Mike deals with interpersonal relationships, while Michelle Benzinger will talk about listening to God’s will for your life. Mark Hart will help teens apply Scripture to everyday life.” Garvin is particularly happy that the program will appeal to both middle school and high school students.


Children should get ready to solve the mission of a lifetime at this year’s Eucharistic Congress KidTrack. The KidTrack will be held for children entering kindergarten through fifth grade on Saturday, June 4, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The program will include lunch.

Through a variety of dynamic, fun-filled activities, the children will discover Christ in the Eucharist. This mission will lead them on a sensational scavenger hunt in which they will unravel clues, create crazy crafts, and so on.

“Good News Clues” is a high-energy, out-of-your-seat program. The area is designed to be a detective’s dream complete with cartoon clues, mysterious magnifying glasses and footprints that might help solve the mission. Exciting guests include Special Agents Rudy and Charmen who are commissioned to solve the mystery of the glowing heart—a mystery that will send all the kids on a mission in which they discover Christ.

The mission is to help children cultivate a deeper friendship with Christ through a variety of dynamic interactive activities focusing on prayer, Scripture and Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist. Activities will include hands-on faith and fun activities like skits, interactive music and praise sessions, small-group teaching sessions, crafts and a virtue campaign.

Registration for the KidTrack begins at 7:30 a.m. Parents can save time by downloading and completing the registration form, which is available at the Web site, before arriving at the Eucharistic Congress. Parents pick up their children before the closing Mass, which starts at 5:30 p.m.

Vietnamese Track

The Vietnamese Catholic Community of the archdiocese is invited to attend a program in Vietnamese during the Eucharistic Congress from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Speaking at this year’s Vietnamese track will be Father Anthony Chinh Dao, OP, a member of the Southern Dominican province, St. Martin de Porres. He holds a master’s degree in systematic theology from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., and a Ph.D. in cultural and sociological education from the University of Houston. Before moving to Washington, D.C., as executive director of the Office for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he was pastor, seminary formation director, teacher and campus minister. He has published two books and written many articles on culture and inculturation in English and Vietnamese.

Deaf Track

At this year’s Congress, a track is planned to meet the needs of persons in the Catholic community who are deaf or hearing impaired. The program will run from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Presenting at the deaf track will be Father Michael Depcik, OSFS, who works as a missionary for the International Catholic Deaf Association and has traveled all over the country to give retreats for deaf Catholics. He was born deaf to a family of seven, all deaf, in Chicago. One of Father Depcik’s goals for the NCOD is to strengthen its advocacy of deaf Catholics in the church. “Many deaf Catholics are not well served in the church because people do not really understand their needs and challenges,” he said.

Father Depcik currently serves as the president of the board of directors of the National Catholic Office for the Deaf.

Closing Mass

The Eucharistic Congress will conclude with the celebration of Mass at 5:30 p.m. with music provided by the Archdiocesan Festival Choir, directed by Kevin Culver. First communicants and banner carriers will be asked to lead the procession before the closing Mass.

The principal celebrant of the closing Mass will be Archbishop Gregory and concelebrating with him will be Archbishop-emeritus Donoghue, Bishop Robert J. Baker of the Diocese of Charleston. S.C., and Bishop Peter J. Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C.

The attendance at this liturgy in past congresses has been impressive, as more than 20,000 people have gathered as one church to celebrate the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

General Information

Open to people of all ages, the Congress will be held at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park, adjacent to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The Congress is free and open to the public. No tickets are required and ample parking is available, although traveling with parish groups by bus is encouraged.

The sacrament of reconciliation will be available during the Eucharistic Congress in the South Ballroom lobby.

A special exhibitors’ area will be set up at the convention center, with 39 vendors of books, art, clothing, music, shirts, home school supplies and more. Archdiocesan ministries and offices will have booths set up with information available, as well as 16 prayer apostolates. Christine Heusinger, archdiocesan development coordinator and organizer for the vendor area, promises, “You can get anything from a holy card to a 10-foot crucifix.”

Food and drink will be available for purchase throughout the day. Participants are free to get lunch and visit the exhibit area at any time during the day.

The Atlanta Airport Marriott Hotel will offer a special rate for those specifying they are conference participants, and transportation will be provided all day between the hotel and convention site. There is free parking at the hotel for guests and valet parking is $10. For hotel bookings call (404) 766-7900.

Volunteers are needed to assist throughout the day. To volunteer, contact Sue Stubbs at (404) 885-7459 or For more information on the Congress, contact Diane Gilsdorf at (404) 885-7445 or visit