THE EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS, DUBLIN 2012.
COMMUNION WITH CHRIST AND ONE ANOTHER
This year in Ireland between the 10th and the 17th of June the 50th International Eucharistic Congress took place in the arena of the Royal Dublin Society which was transformed into a Eucharistic Village where its pilgrim inhabitants ate, slept and drank reflection on ‘The Eucharistic Communion with Christ and with One Another. The opening Mass was celebrated by the Papal Legate, with pilgrims gathering from all over Ireland and overseas. It was a very colourful liturgy that welcomed pilgrims from all over the world to an amazing week of a spiritual and cultural festival. Sacred music was provided by the ‘Three Tenors’, a gospel choir from Maynooth, the Palestrina choir from the Pro-Cathedral and many other artists.
Each Bishop led his diocese in procession. The new Eucharistic Anthem, ‘Though we are Many’ rang out in praise and welcome. Bishop Thomas Darbe from India led representatives from 5 Continents. A drama from the past was enacted, depicting how St. Patrick taught the mystery of the Trinity with the simple three leaves of the Shamrock.
The following days celebrated the different themes, the first being Exploring and celebrating our Communion through Baptism. Throughout the city Mass was celebrated in different languages; the principal service being the Ecumenical Liturgy of Word and Water. The chief celebrant was the Rev. Michael Jackson, Anglican Bishop of Dublin assisted by Ministers of the Methodist and Catholic Church. The people of Dublin opened their homes to visitors and offered hospitality to people of every culture. One of these people was a niece of Sr. Josephine Gleeson, Ballinlough, who communicated with her guests through the wizardry of technology!
Tuesday followed the theme of exploring and celebrating the Communion of Marriage and Family. The topics discussed were the Faith of Our Grandparents, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Spirituality for married couples and a life line for troubled Marriages. Holy Mass was celebrated and testimonies were given. On Wednesday the celebration of ministry, ordained and lay was explored, the theme being the placing of our gifts at the service of Communion. Later on in the evening the Blessed Sacrament Procession, beginning and ending at the Royal Dublin Society, was the largest ever seen in Dublin. The theme of the following day was the challenge of Restoring Communion through justice and reconciliation, the Liturgy being one of Reconciliation. On Friday the theme of suffering and its potential to exclude people, was introduced, and celebrating Communion through healing. Holy Mass included the Anointing of the sick. Saturday saw the celebration of the Word of God which nourishes our Communion: Mary as a “hearer of the Word” par excellence.
There were three designated special places of Prayer which facilitated pilgrims as they rested a while away from the hustle and bustle of Congress life into the silence and calm of, especially the Rosary Garden in the car park of the Poor Clares Monastery.
The closing Mass took place in the Stadium of Croke Park, famous for our National game which has a capacity to hold 80,000 people. The chief celebrant was the Papal Legate. It was a time to pause and come to terms with what it means to celebrate, receive and live the Eucharist, centered on the people of God gathering together in celebration and song; bringing their deepening faith and understanding into their everyday life.
Those who attended the Congress were invited to reflect upon and remember the victims of abuse by the Church, through the symbolism of a granite stone, which was unveiled at the opening ceremony of the Congress upon which was, inscribed a prayer for repentance. This stone was blest by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. It was a visible sign of the inward sorrow for the abuses in the Church and there was a clear call for mutual forgiveness. This Healing stone is to go on permanent display in Lough Derg, a place of penitential pilgrimage.
At one stage The Holy Father Pope Benedict, read his message of hope and encouragement to all via the internet.
Every age group has a part to play throughout the Liturgies of the week and there were daily work shops and talks given by people of renown from far and near. A full detailed account would be impossible but suffice to say that the week was a great Festival of a wide range of activities, not only of testimonies, catechesis, celebrations and workshops but also a feast of choirs and gospel music, cultural exhibitions, plays, traditional Irish music, liturgical dance, orchestras and other artistic expressions.
Our Irish sisters were well represented by those who were privileged to take part in the spectacular undertaking. The words of Patrick Kavanagh, one of our great poets and writers, sum it all up “In a crumb of bread the whole Mystery is”.