By MARY ANNE CASTRANIO, Staff Writer | Published June 5, 2008
Preparations are in full swing with attention to each detail big and small, as the many people who work on the Eucharistic Congress each year begin adding the final touches to this annual celebration of the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Catholics across North Georgia and the Southeast are invited and welcomed at this yearly eucharistic event hosted by the Archdiocese of Atlanta, which will be held on Friday and Saturday, June 20-21, at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park, adjacent to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Those who attend the Eucharistic Congress will discover a unique opportunity for prayer, evangelization, adoration, inspiring talks and music, as well as the once-a-year chance to gather with Catholics from all over for an intense communal experience of Catholic spirituality unparalleled in the Southeast.
The theme of this year’s 13th annual eucharistic celebration, selected by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, is “I Am the Living Bread,” taken from John 6:51: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
Open to people of all ages, the Congress will take place on the evening of Friday, June 20, and all day on Saturday, June 21.
This event is free and open to the public. No tickets are required, and parking is available, although traveling with parish groups by bus or car pool is encouraged.
Those traveling to the Congress should be aware of the Georgia Department of Transportation’s weekend road resurfacing project of the highways going through downtown Atlanta. With lanes closed both north- and southbound, motorists should consider using I-285 to get the convention center.
This year’s Congress will begin with the fourth annual healing Mass on Friday evening, June 20, along with “Revive!” a program for young adults ages 18 to 40.
On Saturday, June 21, the Congress includes an opening procession into the great hall at 8:30 a.m., with members of many parishes and ministries of the archdiocese displaying their faith in colorful banners and flags.
During the daylong event on Saturday, a number of renowned speakers and faith leaders will educate and inspire the faithful—from children to adults. The Vietnamese, Hispanic and hearing-impaired communities will participate in special sessions given in their native languages and in sign language. There will be an organized program for children, from kindergarten to age 11, as well as a separate track for teenagers.
Ongoing throughout the day will be an exhibition of Catholic ministries and vendors. A number of vendors will offer Catholic merchandise for sale. Ministries will also be on hand to provide information about their outreach programs and what they offer to the community.
Reconciliation is available from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Those planning to attend the Congress are encouraged to prepare by going to reconciliation at their parishes prior to the event.
The Eucharistic Congress will conclude with a closing Mass at 5 p.m., celebrated by Archbishop Gregory and the priests and deacons of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
As is the tradition, children who received their first Communion this year are asked to wear their first Communion apparel and gather at 4:30 p.m. for the procession into Mass.
Altar servers of the archdiocese are also invited to participate in this year’s closing Mass. Servers should vest in their parish vestments and gather at 4:30 p.m. for the procession.
Food and drinks can be purchased from vendors until 4 p.m. Childcare is not available.
The Atlanta Airport Marriott Hotel, located at 4711 Best Road, College Park, will offer a special rate for those specifying they are Eucharistic Congress participants. Transportation will be provided all day between the hotel and convention site. For hotel bookings, call (404) 766-7900 or book online at www.archatl.com/congress.
For more information on the 2008 Eucharistic Congress, contact Veronica Diaz at (404) 978-2766 or visit the official Web site at www.archatl.com/congress.