Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 26, 2005
Pope invited to Quebec in 2008
International Eucharistic Congress to mark 400 years of Catholicism
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Pope Benedict XVI has been invited to attend the International Eucharistic Congress, June 15-22, 2008, in Quebec City.
Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec issued the invitation when he met with the pope June 15 in Rome.
The pope, however, "cannot commit himself in a definite way," Ouellet told a meeting of Canada's bishops Sept. 20. "We hope that he will be able to come."
Popes Paul VI and John Paul II made it a practice to celebrate the closing Mass of international eucharistic congresses.
The Eucharistic Congress will coincide with the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City, which the cardinal said also involves the history of the Church in Canada, "a history of holiness of the saints which made up our Church."
Ouellet recalled his participation in the 2004 Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico and what a grace that Congress was for the Church, both locally and universally.
1,000 days of prayer
Some participants in the congress "lived through a sort of conversion" through this intensive week of worship and catecheses, even though they were used to celebrating the Eucharist every day, he said.
Part of the grace for the event comes from the long period of planning and preparation, now underway. Canada has launched 1,000 days of prayer recently to prepare the spiritual groundwork, Ouellet said. Groups in parishes across the country have been mobilized to take up this prayer.
"How are we going to witness the mystery of unity which is the Eucharist," he asked, pointing out that it will take place in a culture that is rapidly experiencing a de-Christianization, where churches are being sold - "a culture of death."
In this "difficult context," Ouellet said the great challenge is to transmit grace "to those who have fallen away from the Church."
Budgeted at $8 million, the 2008 Eucharistic Congress will not be a huge event like World Youth Day in Toronto. But the 200,000 people expected for the last two days, including a papal Mass on the historical Plains of Abraham, pose logistical and organizational problems, Ouellet said.
The cardinal is already cultivating youth involvement and recently met with 200 youth from across Canada who made a number of suggestions, including a procession across the country with a symbolic object prior to the event, similar to the way the WYD Cross travelled across Canada prior to WYD 2002.
Ouellet said that symbolic object is still under discussion, and stressed the evangelistic opportunities for youth in an event like the Congress.
Eucharist: Gift of God
Each diocese has been asked to appoint a representative to the planning team, and so far 57 have been named.
Some government funding may be available to help with the costs of the event, and already appeals have been made to the federal, provincial and municipal governments.
Canadian Catholics will participate in two national collections to meet the costs.
In mid-October, the organizing team will launch a website at www.cei2008.ca.
Events will include a solemn procession of the Blessed Sacrament, a pilgrimage in the footsteps of the Church's founders, prayer for the sick and elderly, catecheses on the Eucharist.
The theme is The Eucharist: Gift of God for the Life of the World.