Eucharistic Congresses are gatherings of clergy, religious and laity which promote an awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Church, organised by the Bishops' Conference. The last International Eucharistic Congress in England was held in 1908 when permission for a public procession of the Blessed Sacrament was refused.
At the Congress on September 7-9, participants will engage in a series of sessions focusing on different dimensions of the Eucharist and the daily celebration and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
On the first day, there will be a Theological Symposium, with workshops for clergy, parish catechists, (especially for those involved in First Holy Communion programmes), RE teachers, Hospital and Prison Chaplains, Seminary Communities and Extraordinary Ministers. This will based in the Liverpool Arena and Conference Centre (ACC) in King's Dock, and the sessions will focus on: Scripture, Ecclesiology, Eucharistic Language and Catechesis, and Rites and Music for Eucharistic Adoration
The Echo Arena in Liverpool, situated very close to the ACC, can accommodate 10,000 pilgrims, and will be the home to a six-hour stage programme on the second day of the Congress, which will include a Congress Mass, two keynote addresses by Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, known for his Word on Fire ministry and as a noted preacher and evangelist. There will also be a drama highlighting the beauty of reverence and devotion. The day will conclude with Adoration, Benediction and Evening Prayer.
On the final day of the Pilgrimage and Congress, Sunday, there will be pilgrimage Masses and a street procession – open to all.
In his Pastoral Letter to the Diocese of Westminster for the solemnity of Corpus Christi, Cardinal Nichols wrote: “We seek to rejuvenate Eucharistic adoration in our parishes as the source of strength for our lives and for our mission, that of making present the love and compassion of Jesus in our society.”
The Eucharistic Congress has been given the title Adoremus (let us adore).
This pilgrimage will bring people together from across the dioceses and further the service of the poor and marginalised in our midst. It will also aim to provide practical resources to develop the mission of the Church in prayer, contemplation and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
In due course resource material will be made available to all parishes.
Our own Diocese is a long way from Liverpool, and, in practice, those who would like to go will need to make their own way there, though a coach has been booked to leave Norwich very early on Saturday morning, picking up in Cambridge, and not returning will very late that evening. The booking is only provisional and we shall wait to see the uptake on this.
Because there are not likely to be huge numbers from the diocese attending the Congress, the weekend of September 7-9 will be an opportunity for parishes and deaneries to focus attention on what is happening in Liverpool and joining together in a chain of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
We are also planning a study day/workshop at the Cathedral, sometime in early summer, to look at the history and theology of eucharistic adoration in the life of the Church.