National Eucharistic Congress promises ‘profound impact’ for families and no cost for 12 and younger

By Natalie Hoefer

The Criterion

Catholics will come to Indianapolis in the tens of thousands this July for the National Eucharistic Congress (NEC) on July 17-21 — some as individuals, some as couples, some as groups.

And some will come as families.

“The Church is a family of families,” said Gabriela Ross, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Marriage and Family Life. “It just makes sense for them to be here for the Congress!”

Ross serves on the NEC planning team for the Congress’ family track. 

“We’ve tried to think of everything to make attending the National Eucharistic Congress as easy as possible for families,” she said, including offering free admission for children ages 12 and younger traveling with their families. 

‘An essential part of this movement’

Families coming together to spend time focusing on the Eucharist is important, Ross said.

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith,” she said. “And marriage as a sacrament is an icon of God’s love. 

“The vocation of marriage is to baptize and evangelize the family. If marriages are going to succeed in that vocation and mission, then they need the Eucharist as the source of their love, because the Eucharist transforms and purifies the family.” 

The NEC website notes the same, stating, that “fostering a love of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist within our homes will have a profound impact on how we love others outside of our homes. … Eucharistic revival happens at the grassroots level, and the domestic Church is an essential part of this movement.” 

This message will be shared during the morning “Cultivate” family impact sessions. Speakers include Voluntas Dei Father Leo Patalinghug, founder of the Plating Grace international food and faith movement and host of EWTN’s “Savoring Our Faith” show; John Paul II Healing Center founder Bob Schuchts; and Damon and Melanie Owens, founders of the online Joyful Ever After marriage ministry.

Ennie and Cana Hickman, founders of the Del Rey Collective ministry, will serve as emcees, and popular Catholic musician Steve Angrisano will provide music at each session.

 “It’s wonderful for Catholic families to encourage and support each other in their witness,” Ross said. “The family track has taken the time to anticipate a lot of those family needs — nursing, a sensory-friendly room, a family quiet room, volunteers at all entrances and exits, like a checkpoint in case little ones try to wander off.”

While the morning sessions are ticketed and have a capacity limit, all attendees are welcome to enjoy afternoon breakout talks and experiences.

Families can also enjoy some sightseeing in the afternoons. The Indiana Convention Center and neighboring Lucas Oil Stadium — the two NEC venues — are within walking distance of several museums, the canal walk, Monument Circle and more.

‘It’s in our own backyard!’

Whether planning on attending the congress or not, there are ways for families to be involved and focused on the Eucharist ahead of time, Ross said.

The National Eucharistic Revival website offers resources in English and Spanish for families and children of different ages at Options include videos and activities on Eucharistic saints, the Mass, small group discussions and more.

Families might also participate in one of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage events from May 17-July 16, as Eucharistic processions from the northern, eastern, southern and western areas of the United States make stops for adoration in parishes throughout the U.S. before converging in Indianapolis for the congress. Information on the four routes and parish stops can be found at

The most important action families can take is to pray, Ross said. 

“Pray the Sisters of Life’s Eucharistic family prayer,” she said, which can be found at “Pray as a family in adoration. Talk with your parish about offering a family adoration experience.”

Ross invites families to include the National Eucharistic Congress among their intentions. 

“Pray for the success of the congress, for those in attendance, for those planning the event,” she requested. “And pray for renewal, that our country will experience renewed love for the Eucharist.”

Ross encourages families throughout the country to come to the National Eucharistic Congress.

“This is such a unique moment in the life of the Church — and it’s in our state, in our own backyard!” she said. “It really is an incredible opportunity for families that will have a ripple effect.

“But it takes families to come to create those ripple effects when they go back to their communities and take their lived experience and witness to the faith.”

To register for the National Eucharistic Congress, go to