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 | By Janelle Gergen, Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer, Diocese of Crookston

Leading a new American revival

An interview with Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of the Diocese of Crookston

Q: We are nearing the halfway point of the Eucharistic Revival. Can you describe the fruits you are seeing from this initiative to restore understanding and devotion to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist?

A: I believe that we are seeing a “waking up” of Eucharistic devotion and revival across the country right now. This first year, the diocesan year, was really focused on invigorating, inspiring and equipping leaders. We have seen diocesan events and regional events across the country. We have seen more Eucharistic processions than ever before. We have seen people engaging in our learning platform and taking courses on the Eucharist. And we see an amazing response from various apostolates around the country. So many of them are finding ways to center their work on the Eucharist because of the Bishops’ call to the Eucharistic Revival. Any Catholic who is paying attention is hearing about this revival, and leaders, especially, are being engaged.

Q: Can you describe some of the ways dioceses around the country have been inviting Catholics to encounter Jesus more fully in the Eucharist?

A:Many dioceses have robust programs. Some are having Eucharistic congresses in every deanery, some have had a large diocesan Eucharistic event, all of them with excellent speakers, opportunities for confession and adoration, as well as powerful celebrations of Mass. Many dioceses have had regional events, as we have had in my diocese, the Diocese of Crookston, where we have had Eucharistic Mercy Holy Hours in every deanery, praying for personal and familial healing. Many dioceses have also had convocations for their priests, to encourage the priests’ own Eucharistic love. I have spoken at a couple of these diocesan priest convocations, as have many of our Eucharistic preachers. Our Eucharistic preachers have been busy around the country attending various events the dioceses sponsor as well as other apostolates. Most of the Eucharistic preachers, 50 of them, have done more than one event.

I believe that we are seeing a ‘waking up’ of Eucharistic devotion and revival across the country right now. . .Any Catholic who is paying attention is hearing about this revival, and especially leaders are being engaged.”

Q: We began the parish initiative of the Eucharistic Revival this year. What ways can parishes encourage appreciation of the True Presence with the Catholics in the pews and with those who don’t regularly attend Mass?

A: In this parish year, we are going to try to reach every parish with a parish playbook that offers simple ideas about how parishes can engage in the Revival and an entry-level plug-and-play small group opportunity that will help to catechize Catholics on the basics of the salvation story of Jesus we call the kerygma and how it relates to the Eucharist. We have already been reaching out to dioceses to ask them to work with their bishops to ask every parish in the country to appoint a point person. We will be training those parish point persons throughout the spring on how to do simple but profound small groups in their parishes next year. We do really believe that the small group is a great way to invite those Catholics who have some nominal connection to the Eucharist but need to grow in their understanding.

We want to invite those people into an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist, and, ultimately, we want them to be sent out on mission as well. Our seven-week small group series, which we will make very easy for parishes to access for free this coming fall, is designed to help these Catholics who have some connection to the Church but want to go deeper in their love. We hope their faith sharing with other Catholics will help them grow in understanding of the Eucharist. Additionally, we are going to be inviting parishes to think about other things they can do to try and promote a deeper encounter with Christ in the Eucharist. The Eucharistic Revival is really centered on two things – encounter and mission. We know that when people have an encounter with the living Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and they allow their lives to be transformed by him, they become missionaries. This is the goal of everything that we will do, especially the national Eucharistic Congress.

Q: You have produced a course on “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church.” Can you tell us about that?

A: This course, which is hosted by the website Revive Parishes and anyone can access for free, is really an attempt to explain all the basic dimensions of the mystery of the Eucharist. It was built off the document that the bishops overwhelmingly approved in November 2021. This document, which gave an overview of the whole Eucharist, allowed me to build a course I hope is accessible to the average Catholic but also gives them a sense of the depth of this mystery. The real goal of all of our study of the Eucharist is to allow us to live more deeply Eucharistic lives, that is, lives of self-gift and imitation of Christ’s gift to us in the Eucharist. This is even the goal of our adoration, that we might want to give ourselves more to him and for him. 

When we give Jesus an opportunity to encounter people and bring them his healing and we invite them with faith to open their hearts, beautiful things happen.”

Q: How has the Diocese of Crookston been helping people to reaffirm their commitment to the Eucharist in the Mass?

A: In the Diocese of Crookston, besides having participated in a couple diocesan Eucharistic and regional Eucharistic Congresses, we have been having Eucharistic Mercy Holy Hours to invite people to come encounter Jesus’ healing power in the Eucharist. These simple holy hours have been very profound for people. When we give Jesus an opportunity to encounter people and bring them his healing and we invite them with faith to open their hearts, beautiful things happen. We have been experiencing this in the Diocese of Crookston. Additionally, we had a rolling Lenten mission in the diocese, and we broadcast talks from around the diocese on the Eucharist during Lent. And, finally, we asked every parish in the diocese to form a team of Eucharistic missionaries that will implement the Eucharistic Revival in the parish year. We have been offering formation for these teams on Zoom and at diocesan events. We want them to be equipped to be Eucharistic missionaries and accompany those who are not yet fully connected to the Church. One example of these teams in action is a group of deacons in one of our parishes that plans to visit every household in the parish, especially those who don’t come to Mass, and see if they want their houses blessed and invite them back to an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist. Every parish is coming up with their own plans for how to implement the parish year.

Q: What do you expect from the National Eucharistic Congress in July 2024?

A: I believe the 10th National Eucharistic Congress, which will happen in Indianapolis July 17-21, 2024, will be the event of our generation. I expect tens of thousands if not more than 100,000 people to gather together in Indianapolis to express their deep love and gratitude for the Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and to grow in their understanding and love of Jesus Christ, the Eucharist and his Church. 

A revival is the work of the Holy Spirit, not a human work. In a revival, God responds to the earnest prayer of his people, and he sends the Holy Spirit upon a place or a country, and the Holy Spirit works miracles. This is what the bishops have been doing in calling for a Eucharistic Revival. They are asking God to send his Holy Spirit upon the Church. I believe that as we gather as the Church in the United States in Indianapolis, the Holy Spirit will fall upon us and strengthen us and inspire us and help us to become the missionaries that are needed in our world today. Now is the moment for the Church in the United States to make a missionary conversion. That conversion will come from an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist, as it always does in the history of the Church. We are inviting every Catholic to come to Indianapolis and to encounter Jesus there and then to be sent out on mission. We will have the best of Catholic speakers. We will have a gathering of the whole Church in the United States, all ages, all nationalities. It will be an event you don’t want to miss. It will be life-changing. Registration opened Feb. 15. Don’t miss out. We expect it to sell out early.