PALM BEACH GARDENS | Sister Clare Hunter, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist who works at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, spoke Oct. 9, 2022, about the National Eucharistic Revival that began in June 2022, called for by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Along with other women religious serving in the Diocese of Palm Beach, she prayed vespers (evening prayer) with Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito at St. Patrick Parish in Palm Beach Gardens. Sister Jadwiga Drapala of the Sisters of the Most Holy Soul of Christ, who is diocesan delegate for religious, organized the annual event.
The revival is not a church program, she said at the prayer service, recalling the words of Bishop Andrew Cozzens of the Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, who is overseeing the initiative for the conference. The National Eucharistic Revival is about starting a fire in the hearts of U.S. Catholics, Sister Hunter said.
Lamenting the 2019 Pew Research Center survey that found only 30 percent of Catholics believe that the bread and wine at Mass become the body and blood of Jesus, she said, “It shocks me sometimes about how far removed our culture is from an understanding of Christianity, certainly of the person of Jesus Christ, and not even to mention the Eucharist.”
Sister Hunter explained that the national revival is a three-phase project that is now in its diocesan phase through June 2023, inviting the faithful to meditate on and experience a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
“I don’t think any of us are ever too old to have a renewed personal encounter with Jesus,” she said.
Dioceses are encouraged to offer events to help the faithful grow in their understanding and devotion to Christ in the Eucharist, Sister Hunter said.
The next steps in the revival will be a year-long phase in parishes, where many consecrated religious do their best work through personal relationships with the people of God, and a National Eucharistic Congress in July 2024 in Indianapolis, she said. That event will begin a national year of mission, Sister Hunter said, with people being reminded of how Jesus is the answer to all that plagues the world.
She urged the religious to remember their own first intimate encounters with Jesus in the Eucharist. “Maybe those are stories we want to share with those with whom we serve in the next years to come, of moments where we heard Christ speak to us, where the Eucharist gave us strength, gave us a way of knowing how to bring Christ out into the world,” Sister Hunter said.
For more about the National Eucharistic Revival, visit https://www.eucharisticrevival.org/. For a local perspective, go to https://www.diocesepb.org/revival.html. To learn about religious life in the Diocese of Palm Beach, visit https://www.diocesepb.org/ministriesoffices/ministries/religious-men-and-women/.