LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Catholic organizations in England and Wales are hoping this weekend’s Adoremus National Eucharistic Pilgrimage and Congress in Liverpool will be an opportunity to show Catholics how to put their faith into action.
“It’s about how we can put the adoration of the Eucharist into practice, and how CAFOD puts it into practice with the work we do with the poorest of the poor,” said Bridget Fenwick, the Volunteer Coordinator for the North West and Wales for CAFOD, the official international development agency for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference for England and Wales.
Volunteers from CAFOD will be serving as the official greeters of the event, which will bring around 10,000 Catholics to the northwestern English city.
Although the main events will be at the riverside Arena and Convention Center, over two dozen other events are being hosted by the Archdiocese of Liverpool as a parallel program for the Eucharistic Congress bringing talks and workshops to parishes around the city.
On Saturday, CAFOD will be hosting a workshop and exhibition at Liverpool’s Sacred Heart Church showing how the meaning of the Eucharist is brought to life by the many communities, and Church partners CAFOD works alongside across the world.
“I think what we are trying to do in the workshop is to link the adoration of the Eucharist to everyday life. It helps to equip people to go out and serve others,” Fenwick told Crux.
“We are trying to show people that is what we do as CAFOD in our work with the poorest in developing countries,” she said.
Another organization participating in the parallel program is Pax Christi, the international Catholic peacebuilding organization.
The group will co-host an event at St. Philip Neri Church which will look at reconciliation, forgiveness, caring for creation, peace and the Eucharist.
“We see peacemaking and the sharing of the Eucharist as a central support of what we do in our peace work. We want to use our time to help people reflect on the vocation of peacemaking and when we use that language in the liturgy: When we share it together when we offer it to one another,” said Pat Gaffney, the general secretary of Pax Christi UK.
The organization’s study session will “explore the vision of a world where people can live in peace, without fear of violence in any form.”
Liverpool Archbishop Malcolm McMahon said the goal of the Eucharistic Congress is not to provide a grand scheme for the Church in England and Wales but is “about coming together as a Church to adore Christ in the Sacrament.”
He said this is different than the last large ecclesial event Liverpool hosted, the 1980 Pastoral Congress.
“It happened just 15 years after the end of the Second Vatican Council. During that meeting, the Church dealt with the nuts and bolts of planning for the Church in the future. The Eucharistic Congress is different,” he said.
This doesn’t mean the Congress isn’t looking to the future: The largest of the parallel events is the Adoremus Youth Congress.
Most of the youth will come from England’s North and Midlands regions, where the ecclesial reality is different than in London and the rest of the South.
“The Church is very different in the North of England. Many of our people move to the south, and we don’t have the immigrant communities coming in to replace them,” McMahon told Crux.
This leaves parishes emptier, and with fewer resources, making it harder to engage young people.
“We are all aware that society is more secularized, and we have to make the Church relevant to young people. I think it is important that we try and involve young people in our work,” Fenwick told Crux.
In addition to its workshop, CAFOD will be making a presentation during the Youth Congress to help show young people that what happens at Mass can impact their lives, and the lives of the people they meet.
“For me, and for CAFOD, the Eucharist unites all the People of God; it brings us together in Christ’s body and we are reminded that Jesus gives us His body for everyone – for all – and we are all in united in Him. I think that is particularly important in our work because it helps us to recognize Jesus’ presence in all the people we are working with,” Fenwick said.
Similarly, Gaffney noted the Eucharistic liturgy mentions peace several times, and people need to learn that “peace is a central calling that we have to put into action.”
“We must weave it into our lives: The way we make decisions, the choices we make,” she told Crux. “The way we talk and celebrate peace and make it central to how we understand the Eucharist and then how we take it practically in our lives, into looking at the need of healing and reconciliation in a world where there is war, where there is violence, where there is community disruption. What is the challenge the Eucharist brings to those situations?”
Despite all the planned activities, McMahon said the bishops do not have any set results they are seeking from Congress.
“We haven’t really discussed it beforehand. We want to see what happens and what the experience is like first,” he said.
However, he added, “We think the Congress will have a positive effect on the Church in Liverpool and the entire city.”