Eucharistic endeavor is fruitful at Blessed Sacrament

BURLINGTON - As a part of the 100th anniversary of the Diocese of Raleigh, the Centennial Monstrance continues to make its way throughout the diocese. The Centennial Monstrance was in the Piedmont Deanery recently. It was hosted by Father Vincent Rubino, O.F.M. Conv., pastor of Blessed Sacrament. Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama joined Father Vincent May 8 for a special procession. 

The goal is to unite the broad geographic areas of the diocese while also reaching as many people as possible to focus on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist during a year that will see the National Eucharistic Congress in July in Indianapolis. 

Shortly after becoming Blessed Sacrament’s pastor in 2022, Father Vincent attended the annual diocesan priest retreat where Bishop Luis talked about the Eucharist and the need to get out of parishes and take Jesus where people are living. That message inspired Father Vincent to begin visiting his parish communities in Burlington. 

“I thought that was a great idea to reach out to fallen away Catholics,” said Father Vincent. “If we’re only in the pulpit, we’re just preaching to the choir. I jumped at the chance to sign for the deanery holy hour because of this personal outreach work we had already been doing … I can’t tell you how thankful I was that the bishop came. He’s so good with the kids especially; he’s so pastoral. It was such a blessing and a joy.” 

Last year, working with the parish’s Hispanic ministry team, Father Vincent put together a plan of going out to homes in the area with the Eucharist. They focused their outreach on a list they had compiled of around 300 families who come to the parish for special celebrations, such as the 46 nights of the Rosary leading up to the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but don’t come to Mass on a regular basis. 

“We have a lot of people, especially in the Hispanic community, that have great faith,” explained Father Vincent. “They have shrines in corners of their homes, statues and photos, but they may not be coming to Mass every Sunday. It’s a way of reaching out to them.” 

The plan was for the parish’s 60 volunteers to go out to the community, two at a time, meeting in peoples’ homes. In addition to praying with people and helping prepare them for a visit from the Blessed Sacrament, the teams would talk to them about their sacramental needs like baptism or confirmation. 

Having the Eucharist at the center of their outreach has been especially powerful, explained Father Vincent. “It’s a wonderful way to take Jesus out to the people and encourage people to come back to Jesus, come to the Lord,” he said. 

The results seem to be bearing fruit. For example, year one and year two confirmation classes at the parish include more than 300 people.   

“We’re going to continue,” said Father Vincent. “The fruit of it, to see the way the people respond, it’s incredibly uplifting. For all of us, it’s like walking with Jesus 2,000 years ago, going from town to town, house to house. To see the people crying, that Jesus was in their house, that the bishop was in their house. It’s just amazing.” 

More about the monstrance

The special Centennial Monstrance traveling the diocese was an important part of the local Eucharistic Congress, which took place in October 2023. Catholics from St. Luke Parish and Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral Parish processed with it from Sacred Heart Church, which was the cathedral for the diocese from 1924 until 2017, to the Raleigh Convention Center, where the congress was held.

The monstrance has also been other deaneries, the eight smaller, geographic regions that comprise the more than 33,000 square miles of the diocese. The journey began in Raleigh and continued to the New Bern Deanery and Tar River Deanery before visiting Blessed Sacrament in the Piedmont Deanery in May. The monstrance will be in Cape Fear in June, Albemarle in August, Fayetteville in September and Newton Grove in October.