The greatest treasure of the Church, which is accessible to every Catholic throughout the world, is found in the Holy Eucharist, said Father Timothy Elliott, pastor of St. Gianna Parish in Wentzville.
The gift of Jesus found in the Eucharist can transform lives, through His grace and blessings, Father Elliott told those attending a Mass and eucharistic procession Sept. 17 at St. Gianna Church. The gathering drew several hundred people early on a Saturday morning. Following Mass, a procession on the church grounds included prayer, singing and a blessing at an outdoor shrine to Our Lady of Fatima.
Since the Church in the United States kicked off a three-year Eucharistic Revival earlier this year, parishes and other groups in the Archdiocese of St. Louis have participated in activities to increase appreciation and devotion to Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist.
“We come together today because the bishops of the country have asked us for a eucharistic revitalization, and we need it in this country,” Father Elliott said in his homily. To evangelize others, especially those who have fallen away from the Church or are unchurched, “we need the Holy Eucharist front and center of our lives,” he said.
St. Gianna recently increased its eucharistic adoration schedule from two to four days, now offered Monday through Thursday. The response was enthusiastic, with sign-ups quickly filled, said Michele Bruns, who helped organize the Mass and procession, followed by a potluck brunch in the parish hall.
“With the Eucharistic Revival, and our Church is so in need of our prayers, we wanted to adore our Lord more and more,” Bruns said. “Today is a beautiful start, because it raises the awareness of our eucharistic Lord’s presence. It would be beautiful with this Eucharistic Revival to see more parishes and priests having eucharistic processions and increase adoration.”
When parishioner Carol Shipley was received into the Church in 2015, she found it difficult to understand the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist, having previously attended a Protestant church. Her pastor, Father Elliott, explained it in RCIA classes “in a very gentle way,” she recalled.
Shipley is in awe of the eucharistic miracles that have been documented all over the world and said some of those examples have deepened her appreciation and understanding of the Eucharist. More than 150 examples of eucharistic miracles have been recognized by the Vatican.
“It’s amazing how God gives us so many opportunities to appreciate His Real Presence through eucharistic miracles,” she said.
Her daughter, 9-year-old Miriam Shipley, who received her first Communion last year, described the Eucharist as a gift that she wishes more people throughout the world better understood. “It’s Jesus’ body raised from the dead on Easter,” she said. Asked how she feels when she receives Communion, she smiled and said: “It feels like a miracle.”
Barb and Will Truss, St. Gianna parishioners, described the Eucharist as a miracle, adding that they observe a special reverence toward the sacrament at their parish. The two have been longtime adorers, bringing their five children with them over the years. Their son Father Ryan Truss was ordained in 2021.
Will Truss entered the Church 30 years ago; his wife was raised Catholic. He said coming into the Catholic Church helped him to better understand the meaning of the Real Presence in the Eucharist. “The fact that we can receive the Body of Christ within ourselves is incredible to me — it’s almost beyond words,” he said.
Hearing the sounds of hundreds of people in prayer and singing at the eucharistic procession was inspiring to longtime parish secretary Rita Schulte. “It was like the angels were here,” she said.
Schulte shares her devotion to the Eucharist through example, such as attending Mass and going to frequent eucharistic adoration at St. Gianna and at St. Paul Parish in St. Paul, which she has done for more than three decades.
Sometimes those middle-of-the-night shifts will lead her to doze, but she’s reminded of the passage from Matthew 11:28: “Come to Me, all you who are weary, and I will give you rest.”
“I am here with the Lord, so it’s my strength,” she said.
>> Eucharistic Revival
In June, the U.S. bishops launched a Eucharistic Revival, a three-year grassroots revival of devotion and belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. They believe that God wants to see a movement of Catholics across the United States, healed, converted, formed and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist — and sent out in mission “for the life of the world.”
The mission of the national revival effort is to renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The four main pillars of the movement are healing, conversion, formation and unity.
Numerous events have been planned throughout the Archdiocese of St. Louis for the Eucharistic Revival, including a speaker series, prayer events and more. Dr. Lawrence Feingold, professor at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, has a series on the Eucharist at numerous locations in the archdiocese. One of his upcoming talks is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, at Sacred Heart Church, 17 Ann Ave. in Valley Park.
For a listing of other activities and resources for the Eucharistic Revival, visit allthingsnew.archstl.org/eucharistic-revival.
>> Eucharistic miracles exhibit available
Blessed Carlo Acutis, a teenager from Italy, whose cause for canonization is being considered, had researched and compiled what is now known as the Vatican International Exhibit of Eucharistic Miracles of the World. The exhibit includes reports on more than 150 eucharistic miracles recognized by the Church. The display presents scientific studies, miracle stories and the scriptural basis for our belief in the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
The exhibit, which includes accounts from as early as the third century, the latest in 2013, is to increase the awareness of the Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist: the consecrated bread becomes His Body and the consecrated wine becomes His Blood.
Parishes and other groups may host the exhibit locally. For more information, call Stephanie Helfrich at (314) 974-3740.