PROVIDENCE — The opening of last weekend’s Eucharistic Congress was celebrated with prayer and music, as well as a Mass attended by more than 250 participants Friday evening at St. Pius V Church in Providence.
Click here to view additional photos of the Eucharistic Congress.
Although the Year of Faith concludes this Sunday, those who attended the Eucharistic Congress said that doesn’t mean their devotion to the Lord will end. From members of local youth groups to longtime Catholics, many of them said their faith has grown stronger this year.
“I learned that Jesus isn’t just inside of me, he is me,” said Virginia Joye, 12, who recently traveled to Rhode Island from England to visit family.
Others feel that same power of Christ.
Paula Marchetti, who has for about 15 years been a member of the St. Pius choir, which performed during the Eucharistic Congress, said her trust in the Lord has intensified.
“It gives me the courage to move forward and be the best Catholic I can be,” she said. “Our faith helps us to never give up.”
Aside from the Mass, which was celebrated by Father Adam Young, associate pastor of St. Augustine Church, Providence, the event featured keynote speaker Mike Patin, as well as the exposition and solemn procession of the Blessed Sacrament. Confessions were also heard, along with a nocturnal adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, following the Mass.
“Jesus was right there, and I felt at peace knowing he was so close to me,” said Josiah Morrison of Providence, noting that the Year of the Faith helped him to focus on strengthening his relationship with God.
Lisa Romano, a parishioner of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, agreed. She said she enjoyed the Year of Faith, and took advantage of the opportunity for confession Friday night, as it helps to build her faith.
“It is pertinent that we use all the sacraments given to us by God, confession especially,” she said. “Confession is the best thing for the soul [because] it removes the sin in our souls. When we utilize it, we get graces that we can’t even imagine we have – overcoming sin, temptations, obstacles, vices – things we understand and things we don’t understand.”
Father Young’s homily focused on a topic some people may not understand: Faith is not a theory, but a close connection with Christ. It is, he said, an encounter with others, with Jesus Christ.
“How can we have an encounter with Jesus and not be changed?” Father Young said. “How can we not understand ourselves better? Every person who had encountered the Lord has been changed…We are truly ourselves in relation to Christ. Without him, we are lost. At the center of that calling is the Eucharist.”
Patin, a former high school teacher and coach, as well as a former youth minister, spoke about understanding the true presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. He explained that it means much more than just receiving holy Communion during Mass and responding, “Amen.”
“When he or she says, ‘The Body of Christ’ and I say, ‘Amen,’ I also think, ‘I understand my job.’ I try to emulate and become who I receive and be present to those who come across my path,” Patin said. “Become who you receive. That is our call, our invitation and challenge.”
Tomi Waters, 17, and Paige Carmicheal, 15, parishioners of SS. Rose and Clement in Warwick, as well as members of the Parish’s senior youth group, are up for that challenge. Tomi said she connected with Patin’s words about receiving the Eucharist.
“It almost brought me to tears,” said Tomi, a senior at Warwick Vets High School.
Through the Year of Faith, Waters, along with Carmichael, said they discovered a deeper meaning of their religion. As time goes on, they said, they are learning more and more, especially about the Eucharist.
“When I was younger, I never knew we were celebrating the Last Supper,” Tomi said.
For Paige, a sophomore at Toll Gate High School in Warwick, the Year of the Faith has made her unafraid to display her devotion to God.
“It made me bring it out into the world,” she said. “Before, I wouldn’t say grace at school during lunch because I was afraid of what people would think. Now, I say grace at school, and say the Rosary on the bus.”
Tomi said she used to feel bullied when she was younger, as a few of her peers poked fun at her for enjoying CCD class. At times, she would tell them she wasn’t enjoying it to avoid ridicule.
These days, all that has changed.
“If someone were to say that to me now, I would say, ‘yes. I want to be here,’” she said.