The Zomi Catholic Community of Nashville continued its mission of bringing the Eucharist to its more than 600 members with their fourth Eucharistic Congress July 7-9 at St. Edward Church in Nashville.
Along with the members of the Nashville community, other members of the Zomi Catholic communities across the country were gathered for the Eucharistic Congress. Permission to host the congress in the diocese was given by Bishop J. Mark Spalding. Permission to use St. Edward’s facilities was given by Father Andrew Bulso, pastor of St. Edward.
The Eucharistic congress was led by Bishop David A. Konderla of Tulsa, who has been leading the congress the last two years. Additionally, Bishop Lucius Hre Kung, Bishop of the Diocese of Hakha in Myanmar, was present, along with seven priests, including Father Robert Kim of Tulsa, who began the Eucharistic Congress.
Throughout the weekend, participants of all ages gathered for catechesis, Mass, adoration, confession, fellowship, traditional praise and worship, and more.
“Our goal is to be Eucharistic centered as a family because it is the source and summit of the Church,” said Deacon Francis Kham. “We want to focus on the fact that Jesus, in the Eucharist, is present for us as the New Covenant.”
Although the Church in the United States is currently in the second year of the three-year Eucharistic Revival, the Eucharistic Congress is an initiative that the Zomi Catholic Community started back in 2018, before the revival was even announced.
“When we started, we didn’t know the Eucharistic Revival would happen,” Deacon Kham said. “That’s the Holy Spirit guiding us.”
“The Eucharistic Congress, which (the Zomi Community) started even before the Eucharistic Revival plays right into the greater emphasis on the Eucharist that the U.S. bishops are promoting,” added Father Bulso. “In a way, they are, and have been, setting the example for us, showing us the importance and beauty of having an event focused specifically on the Most Blessed Sacrament, going deeper in our understanding of the Church’s teaching about that sacrament, adoring our Lord present there substantially in His body and blood, receiving Him in holy Communion at Mass, and opening a space for God to increase our faith.”
Father Augustine Mang said having the Eucharistic Congress every year helps unite the community.
“We are far away from our country, so this not only makes us united in the Eucharist, but also makes us stronger in faith and gives us a sense of belonging, familiarity, and the chance to get to know each other,” Father Mang said. “Even singing the songs and hymns, praying together in our native language, is really awesome.
“It has a lot of impact on our faith,” he added. “The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. By inviting the people to come to the Eucharistic Congress, we’re helping them grow even deeper and stronger in their faith in the Eucharist, especially with the young people. It is very good for the future of the Church.”
The Zomi Catholic Community in Nashville has called St. Edward its home since its inception.
“During my time as pastor here, I have been so inspired by (the Zomi Community’s) sense of community as well as their volunteerism. When they have community events, so many people pitch in and help out,” Father Bulso said. “Despite the many hardships many of them have experienced on their journey to be here, they bring a profound joy of hopefulness. Not to mention, their dedication to the faith and their desire to educate their children in the Catholic faith.
“It is beautiful to see their emphasis on community and gathering together. It clearly has a strong role in their culture. Our Zomi Community at St. Edward gathers most Sundays and has big community celebrations on feast days such as Christmas and Easter,” he continued. “The Eucharistic Congress seems to be a larger expression of that sense of community as they bring the smaller communities across the U.S. together in one big gathering.
“It’s a perfect expression of what the Eucharist does in the Church sacramentally; it unites us as one body in Christ, and the Eucharist is vitally important for families,” Father Bulso concluded. “Families depend on the presence of Jesus and mutual forgiveness, and those are the two biggest lessons we learn from the Eucharist: the presence of Christ with us and the necessity of forgiving others and seeking forgiveness, which Jesus tells us we must do before we approach the altar.”
“The situation in Myanmar is very difficult and challenging right now. There was a military coup in the country a few years ago, and many people from the Zomi Community are cut off from their family and friends back home,” Father Bulso noted. “As difficult as that situation is, it is beautiful to reflect on the reality that the Eucharist binds us together and unites us, even across the world.”
For more information about the Zomi Catholic Community in Middle Tennessee, visit the St. Mary Zomi Catholic Community TN Facebook page.