By MARY ANNE CASTRANIO, Staff Writer | Published May 26, 2005
In the tradition of Eucharistic renewal in Atlanta, Catholics and non-Catholics will gather as a community of faith to pray, to listen and to learn at the Eucharistic Congress, an annual event sponsored by the Archdiocese of Atlanta and open to all on Friday and Saturday, June 3-4.
Free of charge, the Congress will be held at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park, adjacent to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Thousands are expected to come to the gathering, entitled “We Are the Lord’s.”
This year’s Eucharistic Congress is the first in Atlanta that Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory will attend, and he is anticipating a memorable experience. In a letter to the people of the archdiocese, he invited all to “share this day with me as we focus on Our Lord’s presence in the Eucharist.”
In addition to the many compelling speakers scheduled for the Friday evening and Saturday tracks at the Congress, Archbishop Gregory will welcome Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the papal nuncio to the United States. Archbishop Montalvo, who was in Atlanta in January to install Archbishop Gregory as the head of the archdiocese, will be the homilist for the closing Mass on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Bishops of three of the other dioceses in the province will also be on hand to celebrate the day, as well as to honor Archbishop-emeritus John F. Donoghue as he commemorates the 50th anniversary of his priesthood. Bishop F. Joseph Gossman of the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C., will be the homilist at the morning service on Saturday. Bishop Robert J. Baker of the Diocese of Charleston, S.C., and Bishop Peter J. Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C., will concelebrate the closing Mass.
Archbishop Donoghue is looking forward to the event, which was established during his tenure as archbishop.
“I think the Eucharistic Congress is one of the best things we do,” he said.
Gratified that Archbishop Gregory is pleased with this long-time, successful event, he added, “I’m happy that he wants to continue it.”
Archbishop Donoghue is hoping that a large crowd will attend the Congress, as in the past. “When people come, they are amazed,” he noted.
He humbly downplayed the significance of his anniversary, saying, “It doesn’t seem that long. I can’t get over it—50 years.” Members of his family, including his brothers Dan and Edward and a niece, will be attending the Congress to celebrate the special day with him.
Unique to this year’s event is the Friday evening healing Mass and service, which will feature Sister Briege McKenna, OSC, Father Kevin Scallon, CM, of Ireland, and Alan Ames, a noted evangelist. Running concurrently with the healing service is “Revive,” a dynamic track of speakers aimed at the young adults of the archdiocese between the ages of 18 and 40.
On Saturday, the Congress will begin with a eucharistic procession at 8:30 a.m., Adoration and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and a welcome from Archbishop Gregory, who has noted the “excitement about the Congress” from many parishioners.
The afternoon tracks offer inspiring speakers for everyone, with a General track, a Hispanic track, a Youth track, a children’s track, a Vietnamese track and a track for those who are deaf.
Father José Duván González, director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry, said that this year’s Hispanic track will focus more on the connection between the Eucharist and social justice and other social issues. Father Elkin Fernando Alvarez Botero, the local secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in Bogotá, Colombia, who was the director and professor at Seminario Cristo Sacerdote, in La Ceja, Antioquia, Colombia, when Father Duván was a student there, is expected to talk about the Eucharist and social justice. Father Benjamin Bravo-Perez, a professor at the Pontifical University of Mexico, is scheduled to speak on the Eucharist and immigration. Father Duván had recommended him as a speaker, having met him last year in Texas.
“He has been very recognized by all the priests in Mexico because he’s written different books.”
Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the apostolic nuncio in the Dominican Republic with the responsibilities of serving as the apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico, will speak on Pope John Paul II’s document “Ecclesia de Eucaristia.” Msgr. Otto Garcia, vicar general of the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y., will speak on the Eucharist in Protestant churches.
Archbishop Gregory is planning to speak briefly at the Hispanic Track during the day. Father Duván, also priest administrator of San Felipe de Jesus Mission in Forest Park, plans to arrive by 6 a.m. to lead the Hispanic community, including the Office of Hispanic Ministry, San Felipe and other movements in the banner procession.
“It will be the opportunity to be present, to be part of this archdiocese and to say ‘hi’ to our new bishop and to Archbishop-emeritus Donoghue, too, to celebrate like one church in our diocese. Even though we speak Spanish, we are one church with diverse ministries. (It’s) unity in diversity,” he said.
Archbishop Gregory urges all to attend the 2005 Eucharistic Congress.
“I challenge those who have never attended to consider coming this year. As adults we must nurture our faith, and there is no greater quest than to come closer to appreciating the mystery of the Eucharist. If you have attended before, bring a friend, Catholic or non-Catholic, and share the gift of your faith as truly, ‘We are the Lord’s.’”
Contributing to this story was Priscilla Greear.