A young priest known for making the case that we are living in a secular era more like that of the early Church than like the centuries since then is the speaker for the Archbishop’s Pallium Lecture.

Msgr. James P. Shea, president of the University of Mary in North Dakota, will speak on “Love for the Eucharist in an Apostolic Age” for the lecture, which will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the Brookfield Conference Center.

The insights of Msgr. Shea, the youngest college/university president in the United States, are very timely, said Lydia LoCoco, director of community relations for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Msgr. Shea, 37, has been selected as just one of 30 priests from around the country asked to speak on the Eucharist during a multi-year effort called the National Eucharistic Revival. This movement, initiated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is meant to restore understanding and devotion to this great mystery by helping Catholics renew their worship of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

“For his keynote, Msgr. Shea will focus on the singular importance of communicating the truth of our faith: that Jesus Christ is present body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist. He will also speak about how we need to change our own evangelization and outreach to accommodate this new apostolic era,” LoCoco said.

Msgr. Shea became nationally known after he wrote an 80-page essay, “From Christendom to Apostolic Mission — Pastoral Strategies for an Apostolic Age,” that has now been published as a book.

“I think that it resonated with what Catholics in America already know: that there is something different happening, and that we no longer live in a culture for which Judeo-Christian principles are the foundational premise for our society,” LoCoco said.

Instead, Msgr. Shea and others maintain, we are living in an apostolic age more like the first 300 years of the Church — when it was countercultural in the Roman Empire to follow Christ.

“Reinvigorating Eucharistic Devotion is one of the most important things that will happen in our lifetime,” Msgr. Shea said.

Msgr. Shea’s lecture will be the primary focus of the evening, but other events will include a musical prelude by the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus, followed by evening prayer. There also will be time afterward for questions followed by dessert and coffee. For the second consecutive year, the event will take place at the Brookfield Conference Center. Another new twist: adults younger than age 40 are invited to register for a nearby Post-Pallium Mardi Gras Party sponsored by Brew City Catholic.

The Pallium Lecture is an annual event designed to foster conversation and engage the broader culture through the Catholic intellectual tradition.

What is the “pallium” that the lecture name references? It’s a woolen vestment conferred by a pope on an archbishop, consisting of a narrow circular band placed round the shoulders with a short extension hanging from front and back. Symbolically, the garment is a reference to the lost sheep rescued by the Good Shepherd and to Jesus as the Lamb of God.

If you have questions about the Pallium Lecture, contact Lydia LoCoco at lococol@archmil.org.

Annual Pallium Lecture

When: 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 21

Where: Brookfield Conference Center, 325 S. Moorland Road, Brookfield

Free and open to the public: Registration is required so organizers know how many people to expect: archmil.org/PalliumLecture

Details: The event will begin with evening prayer, with a prelude by the Minnesota-based Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus religious order. Everyone is invited to stay for a dessert and coffee reception after the lecture, and young adults may attend a post-lecture Mardi Gras Party sponsored by Brew City Catholic at a nearby location.

Msgr. James P. Shea