By MARY ANNE CASTRANIO | Published February 28, 2013
COLLEGE PARK—Catholics from all over the Southeast will soon convene at the Georgia International Convention Center (GICC) near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for Atlanta’s annual Eucharistic Congress. The GICC is located at 2000 Convention Center Concourse, College Park.
The two-day event, offered for the 18th time this year, will be held Friday to Saturday, May 31 to June 1, on the feast of the solemnity of Corpus Christi.
All are welcome to attend the Eucharistic Congress, to pray and participate in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, to process with pride as Catholics, to hear the compelling words and songs of speakers and musicians sharing their spiritual journeys, to meet other Catholics and share their faith experiences, to pray for healing at the Friday night healing service, and to share the beauty and power of the Eucharist at Mass together.
The congress will be hosted by the Archdiocese of Atlanta and its bishops: Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, Bishop Luis R. Zarama, and Bishop-designate David R. Talley, who will be ordained as Atlanta’s second auxiliary bishop on April 2.
The congress, held in this Year of Faith with Mary, has the theme, “Do Whatever He Tells You,” chosen by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory from the second chapter of John, verse 5, the words of Jesus’s mother at the wedding in Cana, the site of Jesus’s first miracle.
Some 30,000 attendees are expected to attend the congress, which begins on Friday, May 31, with the opening Mass at 6:30 p.m., followed by two concurrent sessions: a healing service led by Father Tim Hepburn and the young adult track, Revive!, led by speaker Marcellino D’Ambrosio.
On Saturday, June 1, the morning session begins at 8:30 a.m. with a colorful procession of parishes, organizations and groups winding into the big hall, with adoration and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament beginning at 10 a.m.
Activities for all ages and speakers for tracks in four languages—English, Spanish, Vietnamese and American Sign Language—will take place throughout the day.
The homilist for the morning Benediction will be Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. He was appointed in October 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI to be the Vatican’s nuncio to the United States, its top diplomat in this country with the rank of ambassador. He said at that time that being a nuncio is “a call to know this people, this country and come to love them.” He serves both in diplomatic matters with the United States and as the papal representative to the Roman Catholic Church here. Able to speak Italian, French, Spanish and English, Archbishop Vigano is a seasoned papal diplomat and before his appointment to the United States was secretary-general of the commission governing Vatican City for two years.
The speakers slated for the English track include: Frank Hanna, Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Elizabeth Lev, Doug Barry with Eric Genius, Collin Raye and Scott Hahn.
The Spanish track will include Father David Garcia, Bishop Eusebio L. Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle, Msgr. Eduardo Chavez and Father Dan Stack. The Vietnamese track will feature Father Martino Thong Nguyen and Father Matthew Hy K. Nguyen. And the American Sign Language track will be led by Msgr. Glenn Nelson.
The Adore! Kid track will have activities centered on the theme, “Around the World with Mary,” and include prayer, praise, music and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Open to children ages 5-11 (with a parent on site during the congress), attending this track requires online pre-registration. Space is limited for the track, which is free, so those wishing to send their children to Adore! should register as soon as possible at the Eucharistic Congress website (www.archatl.com/congress).
This year’s congress will not include a separate teen track in an outside tent—teens, however, are encouraged to attend the congress with their families and to take part in Congress offerings.
At the conclusion of the congress on Saturday, the rosary will be prayed at 4:30 p.m., and Archbishop Gregory will celebrate the closing Mass at 5 p.m.
The sacrament of reconciliation will be available on both Friday evening and Saturday. Exhibitors will include representatives from religious orders and missionary groups, who will share information about their work for the church throughout the world.
A vendor area with wares from various Catholic vendors will be set up at the convention center.
Admission at the Eucharistic Congress is free, and concessions will be available at the event. Parking is available but limited, and the use of shuttle buses and carpools is strongly encouraged.