By Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens
As 2024 began, I was in a hermitage in northern Minnesota doing a Holy Hour before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament from 11:30 p.m. Dec. 31 until 12:30 a.m. Jan. 1. For several years I have been awaiting the calendar to turn to 2024, because I knew that this year, the three-year Eucharistic Revival would reach its summit in the 10th National Eucharistic Congress. I believe this event and the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage leading up to it, will have a generational impact on our country, and I was in prayer begging the Lord to make it a success.
Planning for the National Eucharistic Revival began in the spring of 2021 by meeting with evangelistic and pastoral leaders from around the country in listening sessions. A clear theme we heard was that the Catholic Church in our country needed a moment of unity to express our faith, especially our faith in the Holy Eucharist.
If this Eucharistic Revival was to become a national movement it had to be going somewhere, a pilgrimage toward a national moment. We needed a gathering of the whole church with her bishops to celebrate the gift of the Eucharist and to ask God to send his Holy Spirit upon us to renew the church in the United States, so we might be sent forth with new missionary fire.
This longing from the church inspired us to convoke the 10th National Eucharistic Congress. It was a big proposal to make to the U.S. bishops in November 2021, but when I proposed it, well over 90% of the bishops voted in favor. Now, the bishops of the United States are calling the whole church to gather in Indianapolis from July 17-21.
While working on the Revival plan, I had the big idea that we should attempt to pilgrimage across the country with the Blessed Sacrament. It was the supreme knight from the Knights of Columbus who suggested to me that we should make a cross with our procession across this country and end it at Indianapolis for the Congress.
This big idea had many logistical barriers, and at first I did not think it was possible. But with the encouragement of many priests and others, and the collaboration of a group called Modern Catholic Pilgrim, we were able to bring the dream of our National Eucharistic Pilgrimage a reality.
Thus, beginning May 19 at the four edges of our country we will begin a pilgrimage with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, as much as possible on foot, to the 10th National Eucharistic Congress. Beginning from the west at the cathedral in San Francisco; from the south at the border in Brownsville Texas; from the east at the tomb of Blessed Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus in New Haven, Connecticut; and from the north at Lake Itasca State Park, the headwaters of the Mississippi River in the Diocese of Crookston, young adult pilgrims, accompanied by priests and seminarians, will pilgrimage every day from parish to parish on the way to Indianapolis.
Each day they will stay at a parish and begin with Mass for the parishioners and whoever else wants to join, and then the first mile will be a major procession that ends with benediction. Those who desire can continue to join the perpetual pilgrims who will walk between 10 and 20 miles to the next parish stop.
On various days, there will be major events along the way with larger processions and Masses at cathedrals, as well as opportunities for service, fellowship and witness talks. It is a pilgrimage of prayer and adoration for our country and an opportunity to witness to the truth of Jesus Christ’s presence among us. This has never been done before, and I believe it will have a profound spiritual impact.
A revival is a work of the Holy Spirit. In a time of revival, as we see in the Old Testament and even at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comes upon people and brings repentance, conversion, healing and fire for evangelization.
We already see this renewal of the Holy Spirit flowing from the Eucharistic Revival across our country, but July 17-21, 2024 will be a very special moment of grace. Those days will be filled with beautiful, reverent liturgies; inspiring speakers and testimonies; and beautiful opportunities for prayer and adoration.
It will be an encounter, not only with Christ in the Eucharist, but also with the entire U.S. church in all its beautiful diversity. Most of all this will be a moment of mission, when those who attend are inspired and equipped to go back to their parishes and share the beauty and truth of the love of Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist.
Check out the incredible schedule on our website. Since we began planning the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage and the National Eucharistic Congress, I have had in my heart an image I received in prayer. It is an image of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis filled with tens of thousands of people. And then Jesus Christ, the Lord of the universe, the Lord of our country, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, is processed in and everyone kneels. As we kneel before him, we beg the Lord to send renewal to our church and our country.
We live in dark times, and Jesus Christ the Light of the World calls us together to set us on fire so we can bear his light to our country. Will you come and show your love for Jesus in the Eucharist? Just think of the graces that will be poured out upon us.
Jesus promised, “When I am lifted up I will draw all people to myself” (Jn 12:32). Come to these Eucharistic Congresses to help us lift up Jesus Christ so all may come to know him.
Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, is the chairman of the National Eucharistic Congress, Inc.
Editor’s note: The biographical information has been updated.