About 1,800 faithful gatherfor Diocesan Eucharistic Congress

By Megan Erbacher

The Message editor

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel led a Eucharistic Procession before placing the monstrance on the altar on the stage during the Jan. 13 Diocesan Eucharistic Congress at the Old National Events Plaza. Seminarians of the diocese assisted Bishop Siegel. The Message photos by Megan Erbacher

After about 1,800 Catholic faithful prayed the rosary together in the auditorium of the Old National Events Plaza, Father Tyler Tenbarge said the most important part of the day was about to happen: the Eucharistic Procession.

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel led the Eucharistic Procession into the auditorium of the Old National Events Plaza in downtown Evansville Jan. 13 during the Diocese of Evansville Eucharistic Congress. The goal of the Congress, “A Revival for Your Heart; Life for Your Soul,” was to provide an opportunity to grow deeper in our love, knowledge and appreciation of our Lord Jesus Christ and share in His life with us in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is not a what, but a who: the true body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus.

During his welcome, Bishop Siegel expressed his gratitude to the diocesan priests and the Catholic faithful present, as well as to those who made the Congress possible. To quote St. Peter on the mountain of transfiguration, Bishop Siegel said it is good for us to be here, Lord. It is indeed good for us to worship and adore our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, he continued. It’s good for us to listen, bishop said, to come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of this most precious gift of the Lord in the Eucharist. It’s good for us to spend time together, Bishop Siegel said, to share our faith, and it’s good for us to end this day with the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

Bishop Siegel also served as the main celebrant and homilist of the closing Mass.

Bishop Siegel led a Eucharistic Procession Jan. 13 at the Old National Events Plaza at the beginning of the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress. Seminarians of the diocese assisted.

Father Tyler was Master of Ceremonies for the Eucharistic Congress. He serves as Director of Vocations for the diocese, Director of the Propaedeutic Program, and Chaplain and Director of the Father Deydier House in Evansville. In 2019, Father Tyler said the Pew Research Center found that less than one-third of Catholics in the U.S. believe the Eucharist truly is the body and blood of Jesus, and that’s a major problem.

Father Alex Zenthoefer, diocesan Vicar General and rector of St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville, served as a featured speaker, as well as Monsignor James Shea, Dr. Edward Sri, Dr. Andrew and Sarah Swafford, as well as musicians John Michael Talbot and PJ Anderson.

Diocesan Director of the Office of Catechesis Joel Padgett believes Bishop Siegel stated it best when he wrote that the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress is “a capstone of our observance of the National Eucharistic Revival” that “is intended to be a uniquely powerful manifestation of the unity of our Diocesan Church, rooted in the Holy Eucharist” and “to stoke the fires of faith and evangelization in our Diocese.”

“I pray that people’s hearts may be enkindled with the fire of Christ’s Eucharistic love,” Padgett said. “And that warmed by this fire, discovering in it the Gift above all gifts, they may be so moved as to spread the flame to everyone they know, yearning that others may truly share in the gift that they themselves have come to experience and love.”

Monsignor James Shea, a National Eucharistic Preacher commissioned to ignite the flame of Eucharistic faith and devotion in the United States, spoke about the love of Jesus and our love for him. He said when we truly believe that we are receiving the body and blood of Christ, we act in faith. He said our prayer should be that our faith goes from being emotional to real.

Bishop Siegel, left, opened the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and an opening prayer. Seminarian Keith Hart assisted.

Dr. Edward Sri is a theologian, author, international speaker and co-founder of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students Campus Ministries. He said every Catholic should know the three main aspects of the Eucharist: holy sacrifice, holy communion and real presence. 

Dr. Sri explained that we make time for the things we consider essential. We should ask ourselves: “Am I spending time every day with Jesus? How do I make prayer a part of my daily life? Can I get some contact with our Lord every day?”

Many times, prayer is difficult because the enemy, the devil, is discouraging us, Dr. Sri said. He explained when St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta felt pulled in all directions, she didn’t cut prayer, she added a prayer of holy hour to her day. When Dr. Sri feels stretched, he said that’s when he needs God the most.

About 1,800 Catholic faithful gathered in the auditorium of the Old National Events Plaza Jan. 13 for the Diocese of Evansville Eucharistic Congress. 

We are called to share the good news, organizers said, and the Eucharistic Congress could be a starting line for a new age of mission in the Diocese of Evansville.

“May the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress — as awesome as it may have been — not be an isolated event in your life, but a privileged moment in a life-long journey of deepening your relationship with and love for the person of Jesus Christ, who always awaits you in the Eucharist,” Padgett said. “Continue to go to Him often. Open your lives to Him. Open your heart to Him. Allow Him to transform you. Allow Him to free you from all that is not Christ-like in your life. In Him ultimately lies the secret to your happiness and fulfillment. You will not be disappointed.”