Story by Gina Capellazzi/Photos by Jeff Witherow
Buses from the Diocese of Rochester travel to Congress
Buses from the Diocese of Rochester traveled to the state congress for the day Oct. 21. A bus that departed from Honeoye in Ontario County transported 45 people from various parishes throughout the diocese.
“We had people as far away as Prattsburgh and as far north as Webster,” said Maureen McCarron, a member of the Eucharistic Revival team at Honeoye’s St. Mary Church and organizer of the pilgrimage from Honeoye. “We kind of spanned the whole diocese.”
Father Steven Lewis, parochial vicar of Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick in Owego, organized the pilgrimage from the Southern Tier.
“It (the bus trip) was fantastic,” Gillio said, noting that riders on the bus prayed the rosary as they traveled to the shrine.
"The Eucharistic Revival must be all about that encounter with Jesus." — Bishop Terry LaValley, Diocese of Odgensburg
Mass included clergy from around the state
Many of the pilgrims who traveled to the congress came for the principal Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop Terry LaValley of the Diocese of Ogdensburg. In total, 260 bishops, priests, deacons and seminarians took part in the Mass. Among them was Rochester Bishop Salvatore R. Matano.
“It was an extraordinary experience to see so many of the faithful come together in prayer, especially the prayer that is the church’s most preferred prayer, the celebration of Holy Mass, where we become one with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, his very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, his person becomes one with our person,” Bishop Matano said.
Thousands take part in eucharistic procession
In addition to the Mass, another high point of the congress’ second day was a eucharistic procession around the property of the Shrine of the North American Martyrs. Although the forecast predicted rain during the procession, there was only a light drizzle as Father Michael Connolly and Jesuit Father Sean P. Hagerty of the Archdiocese of New York, and Father Bryan Stitt of the Diocese of Ogdensburg alternated carrying a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament uphill on unpaved paths.
The procession was led by members of various religious orders, priests, deacons and bishops. The thousands gathered followed the Blessed Sacrament as it stopped at three altars around the shrine grounds for Gospel readings and hymns. As the monstrance passed by, the faithful reverently knelt on the wet, cold ground.
McCarron stood along the route, holding her St. Mary Church of Honeoye sign, as the Blessed Sacrament passed.
“That (the eucharistic procession) was the highlight for me,” said McCarron, who noted she hasn’t participated in a eucharistic procession since her college days. “It was very nice to participate in that.”
Fostering eucharistic love within the family
Saturday’s events concluded with two talks. One was on fostering eucharistic love within the family, presented by Katie Prejean McGrady, host of the "Katie McGrady Show" on the Catholic Channel on Sirius XM radio.
McGrady spoke about how she and her husband, Tommy, a high-school science teacher who previously worked in youth ministry, are trying to help their two daughters — 6-year-old Rose and 3-year-old Clare — understand the Catholic faith. She said they realized, early on as parents that passing on the faith often happens during simple, almost passive moments.
One of those simple moments, McGrady said, was during the family’s morning drive to school, which involves passing a Catholic church. Rose noticed that Katie would make the sign of the cross when passing by the church. When Katie explained to Rose that she made the sign of the cross because Jesus was inside the tabernacle in the church, Rose started saying, “Hi Jesus,” every morning they passed by the church.
“I realized this familarity was growing with Jesus, kind of unbeknownst to me,” McGrady said. “It wasn’t like I was telling her to say hi to Jesus. It was just this understanding that slowly developed in her little head, that he (Jesus) was in there and we could say hi to him.”
McGrady also shared that in September, her younger sister, Laura, entered the Sisters of Life postulancy. McGrady noted that her girls knew their aunt — whom they call WaWa — would be far away and it would be quite some time before they would see her again. On the day Laura left for the postulancy, when the McGradys passed by church, Clare shouted, “Don’t be sad, Jesus.” When McGrady questioned the remark, Clare responded because "WaWa is gone." When McGrady explained that WaWa was going to see Jesus, Clare shouted, "Be happy, Jesus, WaWa is coming to see you!" And Rose responds, in a quiet voice, "Tell her we said hi, Jesus."
“My daughter, all 6 years old of her, understood that Jesus could tell her ‘hello’ for us and that we could say ‘hi’ to her through him, not that he’s this carrier pigeon, but that there is this connection, that there is this Eucharistic unity,” McGrady said.
McGrady said she didn’t read the summa or the catechesism to her children to explain this to them.
“You know what I did do, I took them to church,” she remarked.
McGrady said that growing Catholic families is the key to having a revival in this country.
“And the way we want them to grow is that we develop a familiarity with the Lord, that the Eucharist becomes familiar to us,” she said.
The eucharist in the lives of female American saints
The agenda for the congress’ final day included three more keynote talks, including one by Lisa Lickona, an assistant professor of systematic theology at Pittsford’s St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry. She discussed the Eucharist’s role in the lives of American female saints.
Lickona focused her talk on three American women saints — St. Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk/Algonquin convert born in the Mohawk village of Ossernenon, which is now the site of the Our Lady of the Martyrs Shrine; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who founded the first U.S. community for women religious and established Catholic education in the United States; and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, known as “Mother Cabrini,” who came to the U.S. as a missionary and founded institutions to care for the poor, sick, abandoned and uneducated.