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Eucharistic Congress Soon to Begin in Quebec

Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec, president of the congress, has described the three-year preparations as a time of conversion. The congress will be a time of celebration, he said.


By Deborah Gyapong
Catholic News Service (
5/8/2008 (1 decade ago)

Published in Americas

QUEBEC CITY (CNS) - Organizers of the 2008 International Eucharistic Congress are keeping a spiritual focus while planning all the programming, accommodation, food and logistics for thousands of pilgrims.

"The Christian faith is at the center of our identity," said Msgr. Jean Picher, secretary-general of the June 15-22 congress in Quebec City.

"We are organizing opportunity. It is the Holy Spirit who will provide the results," he said. In some ways the preparations have felt like a protracted Lent "with its Good Fridays," he said.

Sister Doris Lamontagne, a member of the Little Franciscans of Mary and assistant secretary-general of the congress, said it is an opportunity to reflect on who is present in the Eucharist and "who is Jesus Christ."

To welcome Jesus, people need to change their lives and come back to him, Sister Doris said.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec, president of the congress, has described the three-year preparations as a time of conversion. The congress will be a time of celebration, he said.

Msgr. Picher and Sister Doris already have observed results in the three years of preparation: increased prayer, eucharistic adoration and fraternal sharing as small groups have come together for teaching and prayer.

Msgr. Picher noted that the Quebec Archdiocese and the city are relatively small to be mounting such a large event. This has put a strain on the volunteer base when "the Catholic faith is not very popular at this time," he said. "The biggest challenge is pastoral."

The monsignor said when he first heard talk of a eucharistic congress to coincide with Quebec City's 400th anniversary, he thought: "I pity the one who will be in charge of that. It will be an enormous challenge."

But he agreed to take on the challenge because he saw the congress as a "wonderful opportunity" not only for those already convinced of their faith, but also those who are distant, who need to be reminded of how the Eucharist is at the center of the church's life.

Sister Doris went to her first eucharistic congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2004. She said she was impressed by the deep faith of the Mexican volunteers and the spirit of service that animated pilgrims from all over the world.

After the official announcement in Guadalajara that the next congress would be in Quebec City, Cardinal Ouellet asked her if she would help organize it. Though surprised, she embraced the opportunity.

Sister Doris said she has been amazed at how the pilgrimage of the Ark of the New Covenant has taken shape, from an idea proposed at a 2005 youth summit, to a beautiful symbolic object that has traveled through all of Canada's dioceses. She said she sees the youth participation in the preparations as a multiplication of the fruit of Toronto's 2002 World Youth Day.

For its final leg, young pilgrims are carrying the ark on foot to Quebec City. It left the Martyrs Shrine in Midland, Ontario, on Easter and will arrive in Quebec City May 25 for the feast of Corpus Christi, with stops along the way.

Even in the Quebec archdiocesan offices the fruit of the congress is already apparent, officials said. Mass used to be celebrated twice a week. Now not only is it celebrated every day, but eucharistic adoration also is offered.


Copyright (c) 2007 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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