John 6:51 from the Bread of Life Discourse will serve as the foundation for the Eucharistic Revival conferences hosted by the Diocese of Nashville’s Office of Faith Formation for the next three years.
The first of the conferences will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Catholic Pastoral Center in Nashville, to be followed by conferences in 2023 and 2024, mirroring the schedule for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Eucharistic Revival.
“Even before the Eucharistic Revival initiative that came out from the (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops), we had brainstormed as a formation team what topics we should really be hitting on for our adult conference,” said Jenny Haug, assistant director of catechesis, explaining that this three-year conference will replace the regular Scripture Summit event. “We kept coming back to the Eucharist, and so we actually decided even before the Eucharistic Revival to have a three-year initiative, almost like a Lectio Divina, really hitting on the Bread of Life Discourse in John’s Gospel.
“It was a Holy Spirit moment,” she said. “We really felt this call to dive deeper into the Eucharist, and then this initiative came out, and we really felt like we were already thinking with the mind of the Church on how to deepen our faith in the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of what we believe as Catholics.”
In particular, the three-year initiative will focus on one verse, John 6:51, she said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
“We wanted to do something that would keep building each year,” Haug said. “The Gospel of John is so rich in Eucharistic theology and imagery, and so we wanted to find a verse that really encompassed what we believe as Catholics.”
This year’s conference will highlight verse 6:51a, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven,” and the teaching of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Haug said.
“All of our speakers are going to dive into that idea of the Real Presence,” Haug said. “Our hope is to not only feed the intellect, but also give an opportunity to encounter Christ, especially in adoration and in the sacrament of the Mass as a community.”
The conference will begin with Mass celebrated by Bishop J. Mark Spalding in Sagrado Corazon Church, before attendees hear from three speakers, and then end the day with Eucharistic Adoration. To better serve the people who attend, there will be an English set of speakers and a Spanish set of speakers during the conference.
The English speakers include Father Luke Wilgenbusch, diocesan director of Vocations, Sister Felicity Heither, OP, of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation, and Dr. Timothy O’Malley, Director of Education at the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame, where he is also the academic director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, and member of the executive team for the USCCB’s Eucharistic Revival.
Spanish speakers include Father Miguel Solorzano, a Eucharistic Revival preacher, Father Wilgenbusch, and Sister Felicity.
Father Wilgenbusch said it’s great that the Office of Faith Formation is making this a bilingual event.
“We have a large and growing Hispanic population in the diocese, so not only is it a good idea, but it’s essential to make sure that we’re providing resources for building up the Hispanic community as well,” Father Wilgenbusch said.
Father Wilgenbusch’s talks will focus on the prefiguration of the Eucharist in the Old Testament, noting the symbols, prophecies and actions that point to the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.
The 2023 conference will focus on 6:51c, “and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” and the idea of sacrifice. The 2024 conference will wrap up the three-year initiative with a focus on 6:51b, “whoever eats this bread will live forever,” and the topic of communion and/or consummation.
“The Eucharist is really the heart of our faith, so the Eucharistic Revival is really about living our faith in a deeply authentic way across every area. But we know that we have to start at the heart, which is our relationship with the Lord, specifically Jesus’ presence in the blessed sacrament,” Father Wilgenbusch said. “This challenge and invitation by the bishops in the United States to deepen and awaken our faith in the Real Presence is a way to invite people to encounter Christ anew.
“One of the goals of the Eucharistic Revival is that the top down meets the bottom up and so, while the Church in her hierarchical structures and organization is trying to emphasize the Eucharistic Revival, what she’s trying to accomplish is inspiring other people to promote greater devotion in the Eucharist and some of our frontline leaders in that are our catechists,” he continued. “They’re at all of our parishes teaching our youth, so giving them tools and resources to be able to talk about our faith in the Eucharist will be part of this initiative to really invite every single one of the faithful to embrace this revival.”
The cost of the Nov. 12 conference, which includes a catered lunch, is $25 per person for all adults 18 and over. Childcare is not available.
To register, visit https://soundscatholic.com/erc-english.