Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


2006 Congress To Build Faith, Inaugurate Jubilee

By MARY ANNE CASTRANIO, Staff Writer | Published June 1, 2006

The 11th annual Eucharistic Congress will, as always, offer the inspiring opportunity to hear bold and engaging speakers, to participate in heartfelt prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, to sing divine music that connects the spirit and the voice, and to experience a moving Mass with the community of the faithful gathered to worship together on this special weekend in June.

The Congress, open to Catholics from young to old from around the southeastern United States and beyond, will be held on the evening of Friday, June 16, and all day on Saturday, June 17.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta, marking 50 years since its establishment as a diocese, is sponsoring the event, which will serve as the overall kickoff for the various anniversary celebrations planned in 2006.

In 2005, over 23,000 people from around the southeastern United States attended the Congress, which is held at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park, adjacent to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Organizers are preparing for a record-breaking crowd again this year—attendance at the event has grown year by year.

This event 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.

Father Joe Corbett, vicar general of the archdiocese, is leading the organizing committee for the event. “The 2006 Eucharistic Congress will bring together people by car and bus from parishes and schools all over North Georgia—for a great day of speakers and activities for folks of all ages, for kids, teens and adults,” he said. “We will be inspired, challenged and encouraged on our faith journey—sharing our faith to celebrate the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.”

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory has chosen the theme “Until He Comes” for the Congress, and speakers throughout the weekend will challenge participants to see the power of the Eucharist in effecting change in the world. Eucharistic adoration, said the archbishop, “is the first step that leads to outreach to others. We are to be agents of service, change and care to the world around us.”

The schedule for the event is highlighted by a roster of well-known speakers from around the world. The Friday evening schedule offers two tracks, including a healing Mass and service that will begin with music at 7 p.m. and will be highlighted by internationally known faith healer and speaker Alan Ames. The young adult track “REVIVE!” will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will feature writer and columnist Mary Beth Bonacci, LIFE TEEN’s Lisa Epperson, and Atlanta priest Father Ricardo Bailey.

The program on Saturday includes a general track for all adults and tracks for teenagers and children, as well as Hispanic and Vietnamese attendees, and a track for those who are deaf and hearing impaired.

Archbishop-emeritus John F. Donoghue will be the homilist for morning adoration and prayer. As archbishop of Atlanta, he fostered the tradition of eucharistic adoration and annual eucharistic events for the community.

The keynote speaker for the event is Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who is archbishop of Dublin, Ireland, and has served the church in a variety of offices at the Vatican, including as the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Following the morning session, attendees will separate to attend the different tracks planned from 11:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Hispanic track will feature speakers and music, including Father Allan Figueroa Deck, the president of the Loyola Institute for Spirituality in Orange, Calif.; Bishop Héctor Salah Zuleta of Riohacha, Colombia; Father Mario Vizcaino, SchP, founder and executive director of the Southeast Pastoral Institute in Miami; and Father Jose Duvan Gonzalez, director of Hispanic ministry for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

Teenagers who attend this year’s Eucharistic Congress will enjoy presentations from Jason Pastore and Father Ricardo Bailey and music from the XLT Band.

Vietnamese attendees are invited to a Vietnamese-language track featuring Msgr. Joseph Dinh Duc Dao, professor of missiology at the Pontifical Urban University, Rome, Italy.

The Congress will again offer a special track for attendees who are hearing impaired and who use American Sign Language to communicate. Msgr. Glenn Nelson, the chancellor and vicar general of the Diocese of Rockford, Ill., will be the main speaker.

Children in kindergarten through fifth grade will participate in a fun and lively program called “Conquered in Love.” All children who received first Communion in the archdiocese this year are invited to lead the procession for the closing Mass. Wearing their first Communion apparel, they will gather at 5 p.m. for the closing procession.

The closing Mass for the Eucharistic Congress, which begins at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, is the high point of the day, as attendees gather together in thankfulness to celebrate the gift of Jesus Christ given in the Eucharist. Archbishop Gregory will be the homilist and principal celebrant for this Mass, concelebrated by Archbishop Martin, Archbishop-emeritus Donoghue and priests of the archdiocese.

Father Corbett encourages all Catholics to attend the Eucharistic Congress. “If you have attended for the whole day, or just a portion of it in the past, you know that parishioners and clergy experience a powerful day of renewal and community, so I encourage you to prayerfully consider attending again this year. And if you have never had the opportunity to investigate this annual event, I personally invite you to come and check it out on Saturday, June 17. As in the past, this year’s Eucharistic Congress should prove to be a very special one, and attendance at some or all of it will greatly influence your faith journey.”