By GEORGIA BULLETIN STAFF | Published May 27, 2010
Reflecting the diversity of the Catholic community in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, speakers of five languages and American Sign Language will be represented at the 2010 Eucharistic Congress.
Catholic faith leaders whose native languages are French and Portuguese are being added to the mix as speakers for the first time at the 15th annual Eucharistic Congress to be held on June 4 and 5.
They represent Catholics from Brazil and from French-speaking nations in Africa and the Caribbean who are part of the North Georgia Catholic Church. They will join thousands of Catholics from around the region, some who will attend sessions in Spanish and Vietnamese and others who will attend a track for the deaf. All the sessions, including a general track for adults and sessions for young adults, teens and children, will be held at the Georgia International Convention Center near the Atlanta airport.
The theme of the convention, chosen by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, is “To Sanctify the Christian People.” It is linked to the worldwide Year for Priests’ celebration, which ends on June 19. The words come from the prayer of ordination for priests.
Organizers estimate that close to 30,000 people from around the Southeast attend this event, which is free and open to the public. There are some 750,000 Catholics in the archdiocese.
The yearly gathering begins on Friday, June 4, with a high-energy praise and worship service at 6 p.m., followed by Mass at 6:30 p.m. celebrated by Atlanta Auxiliary Bishop Luis R. Zarama.
A healing service, led by Father Jack Durkin, begins at 7:45 p.m. and concludes at 10:30 p.m. The opportunity to go to confession will be offered, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Catholics who speak French and Portuguese will have the opportunity to gather and pray starting at 8 p.m. in concurrent sessions led by visiting and local priests. For French-speaking Catholics, Father Jules Campion, the founder and director of the Biblical Center of Fatima, a pilgrimage center in Haiti, will talk to the community.
For the Brazilian community, two local priests will pray with them: Father Pedro Poloche, who serves at the Metropolitan Tribunal, and Father Roger Araujo, a parochial vicar at the parishes of St. Jude and Holy Family, who serves the needs of the local Portuguese community.
Young adults (ages 18 to 40) kick off their session at 8 p.m. too, with popular Catholic musician Matt Maher in a special “unplugged” performance and speaker Tiffany Lambert, a St. Pius High School graduate and a youth minister in Virginia. Also speaking is Father Leo Patalinghug, a faculty member at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., as well as the founder of Grace Before Meals, a nationwide movement promoting the importance of family dinners.
This year, organizers are planning a continuation of REVIVE! with an after party at the nearby Atlanta Airport Marriott following the conclusion of the Congress events on Friday night.
On Saturday, the doors to the convention center open at 7:30 a.m., and events get underway by 8:30 a.m., with the colorful banners from parishes and ministries in the Atlanta Archdiocese waving in the grand procession.
Throughout the day, the conference center will be filled with Catholics listening to speeches from church leaders, international speakers, authors, and TV personalities, along with times of prayer and reflection. Catholic vendors fill up one exhibit hall, and tables with information about ministries and service opportunities line the corridors.
The celebration concludes on Saturday with all coming together for the vigil Mass at 5 p.m. to celebrate the solemnity of Corpus Christi. Archbishop Gregory is the principal celebrant and homilist.
Saturday morning, Cardinal Séan O’Malley of Boston, a Capuchin Franciscan, will give the morning homily at the opening service of adoration and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
Following this service and welcoming remarks by Archbishop Gregory, tracks will begin for different languages and age groups, as well as the general track.
Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver, Canada, is a speaker in both the general track and Hispanic track. A member of the Pontifical Committee of International Eucharistic Congresses, he is a specialist on the papacy and modern papal teaching.
Another speaker in the general track is Johnnette S. Benkovic, the founder and president of Living His Life Abundantly International and of Women of Grace. Jesuit Father Mitch Pacwa, founder and president of Ignatius Productions, a Catholic media production apostolate, whose mission is to teach people the scriptures and educate Catholics about their faith, will speak in the general track. Fluent in 12 languages, Father Pacwa currently hosts two programs on the Eternal Word Television Network. Other speakers in this track include radio personality Allen Hunt; Deacon Dennis Dorner, the chancellor of the Atlanta Archdiocese and director of the Office of the Permanent Diaconate; and Father Patalinghug, who will also be a speaker in the Teen Track.
For children, there will be an organized program all day Saturday for youngsters to 11-year-olds called Christ Music Kids. Attendance in this track is limited, and parents should arrive early for registration. The registration form is available at the archdiocesan website, www.archatl.com.
Teenagers will have their own area with musician Matt Maher, Father Leo Patalinghug and Bob Rice, a well-known youth minister and author of the book “Basic Spiritual Workout.”
Vietnamese Catholics will have the chance to hear from Father Anthony Nguyen Van Quyet, of St. Theresa Church, Jackson, Miss., and from Bishop Peter Tran Dinh Tu, a delegate at the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.
For deaf Catholics, Father Michael Medas brings his insights to the community. Since 1996, he has ministered to the deaf community in the Archdiocese of Boston and served on national apostolates for the deaf.
For Hispanic Catholics, Archbishop Miller, Bishop Zarama, Dr. Carmen Cervantes, executive director of Instituto Fe y Vida, a Catholic national institute dedicated to “empowering young Hispanics for leadership in church and society” through formation programs, research, publications, and advocacy, and Dr. Ricardo Castañon-Gomez, a popular speaker, author and president of the International Group for Peace, are among the speakers who will talk to them.
The sacrament of reconciliation is available from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. However, congress-goers are encouraged to prepare by going to reconciliation at their parishes prior to the event.
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.
No tickets are required, and parking is available, although attendees are urged to use carpools. Attendees can use the MARTA system to get to the GICC, which is a recommended route. Those taking MARTA should travel to the airport, then follow the overhead signs to the ATL Skytrain. The GICC is the first stop on the Skytrain.
Food and drinks can be purchased from a variety of concession vendors from 7:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Childcare at the event is not available.
The Atlanta Airport Marriott, located at 4711 Best Road, College Park, is offering a special room rate of $79 for attendees of the Congress, and a shuttle service will transport guests to and from the GICC from the hotel.
For more information, go to the Atlanta Archdiocese website, www.archatl.com. The Georgia International Convention Center is located at 2000 Convention Center Concourse, College Park.