By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published March 5, 2015
Centered on the theme of “I will be with you always,” the congress, held annually on the feast of Corpus Christi, brings a diversity of people and cultures together in celebrating their common faith, which transcends differences and unifies all in Christ.
Sponsored by the Archdiocese of Atlanta and hosted by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory and Auxiliary Bishops Luis R. Zarama and David P. Talley, the Eucharistic Congress will take place this year on Friday and Saturday, June 5 and 6, at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park. The annual free event is open to everyone and typically draws people from all of Georgia and the Southeast.
During the two-day event, those who attend pray in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; they listen to speakers from around the world; they gather for Mass to celebrate together.
Organizers anticipate it will again be one of the largest gatherings of Catholics in the Deep South. Thousands of people yearly descend on the convention center to be enriched and leave to return to their home parishes, having prayed with a sea of other Catholics.
Deacon Dennis Dorner, chancellor of the archdiocese and one of the lead organizers, said he believes the congress blesses the Catholic community here.
“The fruits of the Congress lie in the growth in the number of Catholics, (both) converts and those moving here. Our vocation program is flourishing as a result of the emphasis on prayer for vocations. The increase in the number of parishes offering Eucharistic adoration is a huge blessing,” he said in an email.
Doors open Friday evening, June 5, before the opening Mass begins at 6:30 p.m. celebrated by Bishop Talley.
Immediately after the Mass, Alan Ames will lead a healing service. Ames, who has a ministry of healing, travels extensively to give witness to God’s love in the world. He does his work with the support of the archbishop of Perth, Australia, and other church leaders.
At the same time, “Revive!,” an event for young adults ages 18 to 40, will be held in the Marriott Gateway Hotel adjacent to the convention center. It will include time for adoration. Lino Rulli, host of “The Catholic Guy” on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, will be the main speaker for “Revive!”
Saturday opens with a procession
The congress continues throughout the day on Saturday, ending with the vigil Mass for Corpus Christi at 5 p.m. celebrated by Archbishop Gregory.
On Saturday, doors open at 7:30 a.m., the morning procession begins at 8:30 a.m., and adoration and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament begins at 9:30 a.m.
Activities for all ages and speakers for tracks in four languages—English, Spanish, Vietnamese and American Sign Language—will begin around 11 a.m.
Among the speakers planned for this year are Father Bob Barron, Stephen Ray, Teresa Tomeo and Lino Rulli in the English track; Father Michael Depcik in the American Sign Language track; and Father Carlos Vargas, Lupita Vanega, Raymond de Souza and Jorge Graña in the Spanish track. There will also be a gathering of French-speaking Catholics.
The “Adore!” Kids Track this year will feature activities centering on the theme “Jesus Gives Us the Eucharist.” Prayer and praise will include live music and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The track will be open to children ages 5 to 11 who have a parent attending the congress. There is no cost to participate, but online pre-registration is required and spaces are limited. The registration form will be available online on March 11. Please visit http://congress.archatl.com/.
Admission to 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.
Some 600 volunteers are needed. Kids Track adult volunteers are especially needed. The number determines how many children can be enrolled. To sign up as a volunteer in any capacity or for news and updated information on the 2015 Eucharistic Congress in Atlanta, visit http://congress.archatl.com.