Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo by Michael Alexander
Then-seminarian Joe Wagner censed the altar before the Gospel was read at the closing Mass of the 2018 Eucharistic Congress. Standing in the background were Bishop Robert Barron, left, an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, and Bishop John Do Van Ngan, the auxiliary bishop of Xuân Lôc, Vietnam. Wagner will be ordained a priest this month for the Archdiocese of Atlanta. The congress returns in June.

College Park

Eucharistic Congress returns after two-year absence 

By SAMANTHA SMITH, Staff Writer | Published May 11, 2022

COLLEGE PARK—Catholics in the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Southeast will come together to celebrate the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist at the 25th Eucharistic Congress, scheduled for June 17-18 at the Georgia International Convention Center.  

The theme for the congress is, “Come to Me,” inspired by Matthew 11:28.   

There’s excitement and great anticipation for this year’s Eucharistic Congress, said Deacon Dennis Dorner, chancellor for the Archdiocese of Atlanta and chair of the congress steering committee.  

“The world we’re living in right now has a desperate need for a greater presence of Jesus Christ,” he said. 

After being cancelled for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, the congress returns with tracks in various languages, as well as for young adults, teens and families. Eucharistic adoration and the sacrament of reconciliation with various priests will be available throughout the event. 

“The loss of community for nearly two years because of the pandemic has impacted us all in extraordinary ways,” said Deacon Dorner. “That includes our isolation from our church communities, our ability to gather and worship together to celebrate the joy of our faith.” 

It couldn’t be more exciting to see Catholics coming together to celebrate Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist and to respond to his call at the Eucharistic Congress, said the deacon. 

A new look 

The eucharistic adoration chapel will have a relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis, an Italian teen who used technology to spread devotion to the Eucharist before his death at age 15 from leukemia in 2006. He was beatified in 2020 and is an intercessor for the national Eucharistic Revival, an initiative by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). A relic of St. Manuel González García, known as the “Bishop of the Abandoned Tabernacle” will also be available for veneration.

The liturgy at the congress will be complemented by the Eucharistic Congress choir. Led by Dónal Noonan from the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Atlanta, the choir consists of 107 singers from parishes throughout the Atlanta Archdiocese. 

“A lot of the music that we’re using leans toward a celebration of the life-giving body of Christ,” said Noonan. It will be “music that people can pray through.”    

Members of the Eucharistic Congress Choir rehearse at St. Andrew Church, Roswell. Photo by Johnathon Kelso

“Starve Wars” returns to the Eucharistic Congress on Friday, June 17. This year, the service project partners with St. Vincent de Paul Society for a food drive to help those suffering of hunger in Georgia.  

Acceptable donations include canned meats and vegetables, hygiene products and needed items for infants. Volunteers can drop off their donations, join in activities to learn about the causes and effects of hunger and poverty, and take photos with Star Wars characters. Registration is not needed to attend.  

The former Children’s Track has been transformed into a Family Track, scheduled for Saturday, June 18. Events for the track include a talk with the guest speakers, professional puppet show, adoration and additional activities. Parents and guardians will attend with their children for an hour at one of four designated times.    

While the track is designed for families with younger children—infants to rising fifth graders—older school aged children are also invited to attend.  

Featured speakers    

This will be the first Eucharistic Congress for Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., since being appointed to lead the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 2020. 

It will be his “first opportunity to have this sizable of a gathering with his flock in the archdiocese,” said Deacon Dorner. 

Bishop Luis Zarama of the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, will return to this year’s congress to speak at the Spanish track. Bishop Zarama was an auxiliary bishop for the Atlanta Archdiocese for eight years before being named to lead the Raleigh Diocese in 2017.   

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich joins the English track speaker lineup this year. The cardinal heads the Archdiocese of Chicago and serves on multiple USCCB committees, including Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, the National Dialogue Initiative with Muslims, Subcommittee for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe and the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. 

Archbishop Shelton Fabre will speak in the English and social justice tracks during the congress. The archbishop was appointed to the Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky in February. Archbishop Fabre serves as chair of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. 

The congress will also welcome back favorites, such as EPIC the Band for the teen track and Archbishop Cristophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.  

New tracks join congress 

In addition to the other language tracks offered at the congress, a Burmese track will be a new feature for this year’s event and is scheduled for Saturday, June 18. 

Guest speakers include Deacon Martin Mana Ling, from the Diocese of Owensboro, Kentucky, who will be ordained a priest this summer and Deacon Peter Swan, who serves at St. Philip Benizi Church in Jonesboro.   

A social justice track also makes its debut at this year’s congress and is scheduled for June 18.  Participants will explore the challenges of the poor and marginalized and discuss ministries committed to social justice work in the Catholic Church. Topics include environmental responsibility, the ongoing work of racial justice and healing relationships broken by violence and trauma. 

Social justice track speakers include Archbishop Fabre, Clare Pressimone of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Joshtrom Kureethadam, a coordinator for the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. 

Moving forward, the Eucharistic Congress will occur every other year, said Archbishop Hartmayer in a 2021 memo to priests. 

“In the years without an archdiocesan event, we will shift this wonderful celebration to the parishes. In this way, we can go forth as disciples into our communities and share the joy of the Lord with everyone.” 

Deacon Dorner encourages new and lifelong Catholics to attend the Eucharistic Congress this year.  

“The reaction of people who have never been in a Catholic crowd of that magnitude or witnessed the Saturday morning procession, or the joy and beauty of the liturgies of that magnitude and size—they’re always blown away by it,” said Deacon Dorner. “You have to experience it.”