Jun 14, 2012
Bishop Richard reports from the 50th Eucharistic Congress in Ireland
It looks like, next to the Irish, the Canadians are the largest contingent from any country represented here—over a thousand including a sizable number from Quebec.
We had a gathering for all of the Canadians this afternoon at one of the hotels near the Congress Site. There was song, prayer and a few short addresses—all bilingual of course. Archbishop Lacroix from Quebec City gave a beautiful short address on some of the highlights for him such as the simplicity of the Irish people and their approach to the Congress—there is no attempt to put on a show; rather there is a certain authenticity to this event. Last night for example, there was a Eucharistic Procession for at least 2.5 kilometers out of the Congress grounds and around its perimeter through the streets of Dublin. About 12,000 people participated. The music and prayers were generated from the main staging area in the open-air arena through large screens and multiple loud speakers placed throughout the area so that everyone could hear the program and follow easily. The Eucharist was carried in a monstrance by Cardinal Ouellette (the Pope's representative to the Congress) in much the same way as we did in Victoria last year. As one walked in the procession it was amazing to see all the people on the sidewalks standing in silence as the procession made its way forward. It had been cloudy, cool and windy all day but when the procession started the sun came out for the entire time. When I looked back at the line of thousands of people behind, I could see the golden globe of the sun above and low in the sky—one could easily imagine the sun as a huge Eucharistic symbol.
It is raining heavily as I write this at 8:30 p.m. and it has been raining all day. Mass is held each day in the arena at 4:00 p.m. and is presided over by one of the cardinals. Today it was Cardinal Sean Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland. The liturgy was entirely in the Gaelic language, the traditional language of Ireland as well as the traditional Gaelic music for Mass—a very beautiful experience. We sat outside wrapped in cellophane to keep out some of the wet—not all of it. I went afterwards to University College Dublin to have supper with the Courtenay/Comox group so as to connect with them more than I could at the Canadian gathering earlier in the day. They are staying in residences on campus and we ate in the student sub building—not bad. Afterwards I walked in the rain with Frs. Scott and Sean to the main street to hail down a taxi—6 euros later I was in my dry hotel.
The theme for today is Reconciliation and we had a very prayerful two-hour Reconciliation Service in the arena given by Cardinal Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa, Republic of Congo. He used examples of the forgiveness coming out of the Rawandan genocide experience. There are many confessions being heard during these days in Dublin and the Blessed Sacrament is exposed every day in a very large hall with hundreds of people in Adoration.
So long for now.”