Formation Day program focuses on ‘Abiding in the Eucharistic Jesus’

By Tim Lilley

The Message editor

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel offers the opening prayer at Formation Day, held Aug. 26 at the Diocese of Evansville Catholic Center. The theme was “The Heart of the Catechist: Abiding in the Eucharistic Jesus.” The Message photos by Tim Lilley

Religious educators from across the Diocese of Evansville attended the Formation Day Aug. 26 at the Catholic Center in Evansville. Organized by the Diocesan Office of Catechesis, the day featured tracks in English and Spanish, and drew more than 120 people who serve parishes and schools in a variety of roles: catechists, RCIA team members, youth ministers, parish catechetical leaders, principals and teachers.

This year’s theme was “The Heart of the Catechist: Abiding in the Eucharistic Jesus.”

Nashville Dominican Sister Mary Rachel Capets

Nashville Dominican Sister Mary Rachel Capets served as the keynote speaker, Sister Mary Rachel is a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia who entered religious life in 1996. She has taught elementary and high school throughout the U.S. and in Australia. 

Sister Mary Rachel currently serves as the Local Prioress of St. Cecilia Motherhouse in Nashville, and as the Director of the Pilgrimage program at Aquinas College in Nashville. She earned her doctorate from the University of Notre Dame, Sydney, studying the impact of pilgrimage on the faith of the Catholic educator.

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel welcomed Sister Mary Rachel and all the attendees, and he offered the opening prayer for the day. 

Joel Padgett, Director of the Office of Catechesis, opened Formation Day with brief comments and invited all in attendance to allow God to pierce their hearts so that what is not of him might be removed.

Joel Padgett, Director of the Diocesan Office of Catechesis, speaks to attendees.

Bishop Siegel told attendees that, in the Eucharist, the Bread of Life transforms us. It implies a communion with one another and with the whole Church.

Sister Mary Rachel focused her keynote on the day’s theme: “The Heart of the Catechist: Abiding in the Eucharistic Jesus.” She said that, as St. Thomas Aquinas explained, our call is to study, pray and live life rooted in the Eucharist.

She noted that the current Eucharistic Revival going on across the Church was prompted by research that suggest roughly two-thirds of churchgoing Catholics did not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. She said that, during the Mass, “what was bread is now Jesus. It truly is a miracle that he is there, and that the appearance of bread remains.”

“It is for Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist that saints have given their lives. Who could even begin to speak of such a mystery?”

She told attendees that the young people they teach are courageous; they are willing to follow the way of St. Tarcisius, a young boy of Rome in the third century who was martyred for refusing to surrender the Eucharist he was taking to Christians being held prisoners by the Romans. St. Tarcisius is the patron saint of First Communicants and altar servers.

Sister Mary Rachel said that the Eucharist is the answer for everything, and she encouraged attendees to ask Jesus to abide in them as he, in John 15, asks that we abide in him.

Father Martin Estrada opens Formation Day’s Spanish track with a presentation on the Eucharist.

Father Martin Estrada, Parochial Vicar of Evansville’s Holy Rosary Parish, gave the opening talk in the Spanish track. Breakout sessions in English and Spanish followed, and all of the breakouts were repeated after lunch so that each attendee could be a part of two sessions during the event.

Father Alex Zenthoefer, Diocese of Evansville Vicar General and Rector of St. Benedict Cathedral Parish, led one of the English breakouts. The others were led by Emily Ketzner and Jeremy Goebel, Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. 

Father Alex Zenthoefer’s breakout session was “A Walk Through the Mass.”

Pedro Méndez and Katie Goebel led the Spanish breakouts.