Eucharistic Congress is set to welcome people and a centennial

(Above, left to right) Patty Schubert, Barbara Brucato, Debbie del Corro El-Chayeb, Barbara Layton, Marcy Derby, MJ Lewis and Claudette Morrison volunteer at the exhibit in June. The exhibit will be on display at the Eucharistic Congress in October. 

Much like a religious pilgrim’s heart and feet, strides and steps are being made. In this case, think: Practical beginnings. For example, a guidebook is online, and an app is available on Google Play and in the App Store. As of July, when it was first made available, a few hundred downloads had already happened. By August and September, organizers expect that number to rise. And, by October, they hope to welcome about 4,500 to the Raleigh Convention Center for the Diocese of Raleigh’s Eucharistic Congress 2023

Set for Oct. 21, the Saturday event seeks to not only help people deepen their faith and understanding of the Eucharist, but to also kick off the 100-year anniversary of the official founding of the Diocese of Raleigh. It’s part of an effort to gather locally, while participating in what’s going on nationally in the Church with the National Eucharistic Revival.

In the Diocese of Raleigh, the day-long event begins with a Eucharistic procession and holy hour, followed by keynote speeches. Bishop Stephen Parkes of Savannah is presenting in the English track; Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio is presenting in the Spanish track. The day concludes with a vigil Mass.  

The event is bilingual in sessions and workshops, too. And there are speakers presenting specifically for youth in grades six through 12.

A team of volunteers has been working on the event for months. While they’re looking forward to presenting the congress at no cost, registration is required, and youth/adult registrations are separate from each other.

Father Scott McCue, chair of the Eucharistic Congress Planning Committee, noted that the Eucharistic Miracles Exhibit is one of the highlights of the day. Using photos and descriptions organized by country and date, the exhibit tells the stories of 153 miracles from throughout the world.

“The first time I saw the exhibit … I was mesmerized by the stories of the miracles that I immediately thought about plans to have the exhibit available for the parishioners at St. Thomas More,” said Debbie del Corro El-Chayeb, who oversees the exhibit in English for the congress. (The same exhibit will be presented in Spanish, too.)

After fund raising to have sets printed, she and members of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas – Court Ave Maria were able to display the Eucharistic Miracles of the World June 19, 2022, the weekend of Corpus Christi Sunday. It was particularly important to them, she said, because research showed recently that only one-third of U.S. Catholics believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  

“We have since been able to take the exhibit on the road and display it at other parishes which is one of the main goals of owning it,” she said. “What I found most interesting is that God continues to remind us that ‘All things are possible with God.’”

Her group displayed the exhibit for students at a Catholic school in Virginia. She remembered how three third graders asked their teacher if they could skip recess to go back to the exhibit and learn more.

It’s an energy she hopes will be present at the congress. Father Scott hopes so, too.

"The miracles presented in the Vatican International Eucharistic Miracles of the World Exhibition, like all miracles, are gifts from God ‘to witness to some truth or to testify to someone's sanctity.’ One way to contemplate the doctrine … is by reading and learning about the Eucharistic Miracles that have taken place throughout the centuries,” the event’s guidebook noted. “The exhibition can evangelize Catholics and non-Catholics by helping a person discover the mystery, beauty and riches of the Eucharist while understanding the ultimate miracle.”