Pete Burds and Margaret Rhody from the office of evangelization and catechesis spoke to the 400 parish representatives present at the Eucharistic Revival Preparation Day on Saturday, Oct. 22, at Mary Mother of the Church Pastoral Center. (Photo by Larry Hanson)
In one sense, the National Eucharistic Revival is a return to fundamentals for the Catholic Church and its people.
Pete Burds, the director of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s office for evangelization and catechesis, made the point by sharing a story about legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.
On the opening day of training camp in 1961, Lombardi held up a pigskin and declared to his collected assemblage of professional gridiron gladiators, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”
“The point he was trying to make is we have to get back to the fundamentals,” Burds said during a talk Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Eucharistic Revival Preparation Day at Mary Mother of the Church Pastoral Center. “When you look at life in this Eucharistic Revival, when you look at life post-COVID, I think there’s a couple of things we can really focus on: The message of Jesus Christ, the person of Jesus Christ. His story. His works. His miracles. What he did.”
The part Burds left out of his Lombardi example is the punchline to the story.
One of the players quipped to Lombardi, “Hey coach, can you slow down a bit?”
But the necessity and urgency of the Eucharistic Revival is borne out of any number of examples, and is a reminder that when it comes to the fundamental nature of the Church, you can’t go too slow.
Burds showed a photo from his first Communion. Of the 28 kids in the photo, by Burds’ best estimation, just five of them remain active in the Church.
Thirty-one percent of Catholics know and believe the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ. Earlier in the day in his keynote address, National Eucharistic Revival Executive Director Tim Glemkowski said of that fact, “That is a scandal, and will cripple the mission of the Church.”
Just 39 percent of Catholics attend Mass weekly.
There has been a decrease of more than 10,000 priests since 2003.
Burds believes many of his fellow first Communicants fell away from the Church because even though they received good teaching about the faith, they didn’t have that deep, personal connection to Jesus Christ, which could have allowed them to continue to live their faith in the midst of a broader culture that doesn’t support it.
“They weren’t given the fundamental Gospel message,” Burds said.
The three-year Eucharistic Revival began June 19 on Corpus Christi Sunday and will continue into 2025 with a series of events. In 2023, Saint Francis de Sales Seminary and Mary Mother of the Church Pastoral Center will host an Archdiocesan Eucharistic Congress on June 10. The next day, Corpus Christi Sunday, will kick off the year of Eucharistic Revival in parishes. From July 18-21, 2024, a National Eucharistic Congress will be held in Indianapolis, where it is estimated 100,000 Catholics from across the nation will come together. That will begin a year of mission that will conclude at Pentecost 2025.
The National Eucharistic Revival is leading the Church in the United States back to its apostolic roots through encounter with a rediscovery of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Through moments of healing, conversion and formation, the Church will unite in its mission to proclaim Christ and make disciples through the sacramental life of the Church.
Margaret Rhody, the associate director of the office of evangelization and catechesis, said, “You will notice we are still building the plane while we are flying it. We have three years to make the Revival happen. We have been praying about this day and the three years but it is still unfolding.”
One example Rhody shared of how the process is being continually developed is that a couple of weeks ago, their office received a call that there is going to be a national Eucharistic procession (like the Olympic torch) and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is going to be on the route.
They asked the caller the obvious question: When is it going to be here? The reply? “We don’t know.”
Their office has several resources available for parishes to implement the Revival in their corners of the Church. The main ones are archmil.org/revival and eucharisticrevival.org, which will be updated continuously throughout the three years.
“While we’re flying it, it’s not just us building it,” Rhody said. “I just want you to hear that. We’re hoping that what you have heard today inspires you and you take this to prayer and you ask the Holy Spirit because you are the expert on your community. You know your people.”