By MARY ANNE CASTRANIO, Staff Writer | Published June 9, 2011
When the doors open on Friday, June 24, and the 16th annual Eucharistic Congress commences, a group of renowned speakers will offer talks during the evening and throughout the next day on various aspects of the Eucharist and vocations—in six languages, in nine tracks, geared to attendees of all ages.
Some 30,000 or more are expected to attend the Friday, June 24, and Saturday, June 25, events at the Georgia International Convention Center adjacent to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Speakers are to include a nun from Iraq, a priest producing a 10-part television series on Catholicism, several who host television shows, a duo of jugglers, and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Congress includes a live broadcast by The Catholics Next Door, Greg and Jennifer Willits, who will do their show for Sirius-XM satellite radio amidst the people in the spacious gathering area outside the main halls on Saturday afternoon. Following the broadcast, they are scheduled to be among a group of presenters in a panel on vocations in the English Track.
The Congress will close with a Vigil Mass for Corpus Christi celebrated by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory at 5 p.m. and concelebrated by archdiocesan and visiting bishops and priests.
The two-day event is free and open to the public.
Friday, June 24: Opening Mass And Healing Service
Auxiliary Bishop Luis Zarama will celebrate the opening Mass for the Congress at 6:30 p.m. Named auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, Bishop Zarama is a native of Pasto, Colombia. He was a pastor in North Georgia for a decade, before being appointed a vicar general of the archdiocese in 2006, a post he still holds.
Father Jack Durkin, who will lead the healing service that begins following the Mass, is pastor of St. Monica Church in Duluth. Father Durkin, who holds a master’s degree in teaching from UNC-Chapel Hill, was a teacher before entering the seminary. He was ordained for the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1999.
Ordained as a priest for the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 2009, Father Nicholas Azar, who will also lead the healing service, currently serves as parochial vicar at St. Michael Church, Gainesville. Father Azar studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy.
Friday, June 24: Revive! Young Adult Track
Revive! speaker Mario St. Francis travels the world over working as a motivational speaker and producer of positive media. Known as the “techno missionary,” he also works as an independent video producer and director. Prior to his conversion, he was a fashion model and worked with and for clients such as Cosmopolitan, GQ, MTV and HBO, as well as appearing on television commercials and theatrical stage plays. He will also speak in the Spanish Track on Saturday.
Friday, June 24: Francophone Track
Father Yvans Jazon was ordained a priest in 2007. He currently serves as the administrator of St. Monica Church in Atlantic City in the Diocese of Camden, N.J. Graduating from Immaculate Conception Seminary in 2007 with a master’s degree in theology, Father Jazon also earned a master’s degree in counseling and an educational specialist degree in marriage and family therapy at Seton Hall University in 2010. Father Jazon was born in Haiti and speaks French, Creole, English and some Spanish.
Friday, June 24: Portuguese Track
Father Celso Martins Jr. was born in 1976 in Cianorte, state of Paraná, Brazil. He entered the Redemptorist seminary in 1997, studied philosophy in the Catholic Pontifical University of Paraná, in the city of Curitiba, and then theology at the Institute of Theology São Paulo. Since February 2008, he has been serving at St. James Church, Newark, N.J.
Saturday, June 25: Procession, Benediction And Homily
The morning homilist will be Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, who was named archbishop of New York by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. A priest for 35 years, Archbishop Dolan has served earlier as rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy, as auxiliary bishop of the St. Louis Diocese, and as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He holds a license in sacred theology and a doctorate in American church history. Archbishop Dolan was also elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2010 and is a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.
Saturday, June 25: English Track
Father Robert Barron, an acclaimed author, speaker and theologian, is the Francis Cardinal George Professor of Faith and Culture at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago and also is the founder of Word On Fire, a global, nonprofit media ministry that utilizes advanced technologies to draw people into, or back to, the Catholic faith. He is working on a 10-part television series on the Catholic faith, to be released later this year.
Dr. Paul Thigpen is the director of CHResources, the publishing outreach of the Coming Home Network International, an apostolate that helps non-Catholic clergy enter the Catholic Church. A former evangelical Protestant pastor who entered the Catholic Church in 1993, he is a former professor of theology at Southern Catholic College.
Sister Olga of the Eucharist, born and raised in Iraq, established the Missionaries of the Virgin Mary in 1995, the first order for nuns in the Assyrian Church of the East in 700 years. She came to the United States in 2001 to continue her studies. In the summer of 2009, she started Nazareth House, a new apostolate on the Boston University campus that serves as a place of prayer and discernment for young women. She also serves as a campus minister for the Archdiocese of Boston at the Boston University Catholic Center.
Dana was Ireland’s first winner of the prestigious Eurovision Song Contest in 1970 and has recorded several albums since then. In the 1990s, Dana entered politics and ran in the 1997 Irish presidential election, subsequently being elected as the member of the European Parliament for Connacht–Ulster. She is currently working on her new series for EWTN, “Dana & Friends,” which will feature Dana and fellow Catholic artists sharing their music ministries.
Raymond Arroyo is an internationally recognized, award-winning journalist, producer and bestselling author. He has worked for the Associated Press and as a Capitol Hill correspondent. He is the producer of the bestselling audio Bible, “The Word of Promise.” A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Arroyo is the author of “Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve and a Network of Miracles.”
Saturday, June 25: Spanish Track
Father William Canales was first ordained as a deacon in 1999 at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption in León, Nicaragua, and then in 2000 was ordained into the priesthood at the Cathedral of León. In 2005, he was named pastor of St. James the Apostle Parish in Telica, Nicaragua, serving there until embarking upon his missionary experience in the United States. He currently serves at St. Michael Church, Gainesville.
Father Pedro Núñez, of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, was born in Havana, Cuba, and immigrated to the United States in 1962. Father Núñez is the host of the weekly TV program “Conozca Primero su Fe Católica” (Know Your Catholic Faith First), which is broadcast to more than 85 million households in 110 countries.
Dr. Fernando Casanova is the author of three books and 18 articles discussing theology, spirituality, Protestantism and theology education. He is the general producer of the program “Apologia,” which airs on Tele Oro in the Archdiocese of San Juan, Puerto Rico. He is the founder and director of “La Alianza Formativa,” an apostolate of evangelization and Catholic faith formation in San Juan.
Saturday, June 25: Excite! Youth Track
APeX Ministries is a Christian comedy duo comprised of Gene Monterastelli and Brad Farmer, who mix drama, sketch comedy, juggling and storytelling together with a Christian message during their performances. Since 1996 they have traveled North America performing at diocesan, regional and national conferences, as well as leading retreats, parish missions and sharing evenings with youth groups, families and parish communities.
A composer and musician, Tom Booth has written songs that have been sung in many faith communities and has collaborated with some well-known contemporary Christian music artists, including Rich Mullins, Amy Grant and others. Booth has performed for Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II.
DJ Bill Lage is a charter member of the Midwest Association of Professional Disc Jockeys and is a member of the National Association of Mobile Entertainers. He specializes in family-friendly, interactive shows.
Saturday, June 25: American Sign Language Track
Father Tom Coyte, a priest serving the Archdiocese of Denver, has continuously ministered to the deaf community for 37 years. He currently works as pastor of Holy Cross Church, which is both a territorial parish for Denver and a non-territorial parish for the deaf community. Father Coyte has served on the board of directors for the National Catholic Office for the Deaf and as spiritual director for Deaf Cursillo, Marriage Encounter and TEC weekends.
Saturday, June 25: Vietnamese Track
Archbishop Pierre Nguyen Van Tot was born in Thu Dau Mot, Binh Duong, Vietnam, and was ordained a priest in 1974. He has served in Africa, Central America and South America, and was appointed to serve at Holy Spirit Mission in Costa Rica in 2008.
Father Joseph Vu Dao, SVD, was ordained a Divine Word priest in Techny, Ill., in 1988 and served as the chaplain for a refugee camp in Morong, Bataan, Philippines until 2000. He currently works as the pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Memphis, Tenn.
Saturday, June 25: Adore! Kid Track
Rob Evans, “The Donut Man,” is known for his fun and instructive Bible story-songs presented via DVDs, CDs and live concerts.
Parking for the Eucharistic Congress is free but limited. Parishes are encouraged to use shuttle buses or carpools. For those interested in staying overnight, a special Eucharistic Congress rate is available at the new Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway Hotel that is located immediately adjacent to the GICC. Attendees may also take MARTA to the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport station and board the new ATL SkyTrain that serves as a shuttle from the terminal to the GICC/Gateway Center station.