Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

My First Experience At The Eucharistic Congress

By PATRICK ANHUT, Special To the Bulletin | Published June 21, 2012

It was my first time to attend the Eucharistic Congress, and I was blown away by the extreme love, adoration and submissiveness to the presence of God that I saw there.

As I walked through the long hallways of the building with my backpack, press pass and reporter’s notebook, I couldn’t help but smile and listen to the beautiful conversations and laughter of all participants. Just as my favorite T-shirt said, my day at the Eucharistic Congress certainly energized my soul, and I was thrilled to see the many different cultures come together to worship and enjoy each other’s company.

Although I currently take Spanish in high school, when I walked into the Spanish Track, I was unable to understand anything the speaker was saying. I was just about to turn around and walk out when I suddenly saw all of the people greeting and hugging each other with pure smiles of joy. To me, this situation was the definition of faith. Sure, I couldn’t understand the oral message, but just by witnessing people’s actions, I could feel God’s presence. As I walked out, I heard a resounding “Amen!” from the entire crowd, and I felt at home. It’s funny how God works. No matter the language, culture or race, we all know the meaning of Amen, which just shows that all God wants is our trust and belief in Him.

For me, the most powerful moment at the congress was the carrying of the monstrance through all events within the building. The Blessed Sacrament passed through, and suddenly there were no cell phones or other distractions. Everyone fell to their knees and reflected in silence as Christ moved throughout the building. It was reassuring to see that all participants at the congress knew that their first priority in life was their relationship with God, an observation further emphasized by the long lines of people waiting for confession. It was incredible to see the longing of so many people to renew and strengthen their relationships with God.

During the entire day, all participants generated a constant enthusiasm, but I definitely witnessed the most passion from the Youth Track. Maybe I’m just biased, but every person that I talked to under the big tent in the parking lot beside the convention hall was motivated, welcoming and a perfect reflection of Christ. My time under the tent gave me hope that my generation has a lot to offer. There is no need to worry because so many intelligent, personable and loving people are eager to share their gifts and talents in order to make a positive difference in our world. The music was terrific, especially Pip Arnold, who seemed to be the crowd’s favorite (especially the girls), and all of the speakers truly inspired me to draw closer to God because I can always hold onto my faith even when I may lose everything else.

Like Archbishop Gregory mentioned in his talk, my highlight of the day was viewing the Kid Track. No child was sitting down, everyone was smiling, and many were bursting out laughing with joy while dancing to the music. There’s something about a child’s innocence and happiness that always sends a shiver down my spine, and I was so excited to see every child truly enjoying their time with God.

After all of the activities concluded, the Mass at the end of the day was the perfect summary of this year’s theme: “We though many are one body in Christ.” Although the Archdiocese of Atlanta is made up of many different communities, cultures and races, it stands united through the celebration of Mass. I was overwhelmed by the enormous amount of people who attended and the overall beauty of the celebration—a powerful conclusion to a wonderful day.

During my time at the congress, I only saw one sad face, and it was a little boy who was upset because his mom was dragging him to the car to leave. I witnessed many activities and listened to many speakers at the congress this year, but I learned the most about my faith through the actions of all those who attended, and I was so happy that I had the opportunity to be there. We truly are one body in Christ, and we are connected by a faith that can never be broken.