Every four years, the International Eucharistic Congress is celebrated by thousands of Catholics from around the world. Three years ago it was held in Quebec. Next year it will be held in Dublin, Ireland. The Diocese of Rockville Centre is sponsoring a pilgrimage to the Eucharistic Congress. Bishop Murphy has asked Bishop John Dunne to be the spiritual leader of this pilgrimage. I think Bishop Murphy made a great choice because Bishop Dunne has been a faithful and devoted priest of our diocese since 1963 and has served as an auxiliary bishop since 1988.
I will be coordinating the daily events for this pilgrimage. Let me give you some preliminary information so that in the ‘lazy’ days of summer you may begin to think about joining in this very special opportunity. The Eucharistic Congress consists of “daily events, including large public Eucharistic celebrations, plus venues for song, drama, lectures and international fellowship. The purpose of the Congress is to promote an awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Church and to draw attention to the social dimension of the Eucharist (the responsibility we have to reflect in our lives the meaning of what we celebrate).”
Our pilgrimage will begin with some touring in the western part of Ireland and end with the first three days of the Eucharistic Congress. Since Bishop Dunne’s parents came from Castlebar, we are designing this pilgrimage around his family roots in the west of Ireland. This will enable us to visit some well-known sites (like the Cliffs of Moher and Kylemore Abbey) but also to take advantage of local places of interest that will introduce us to the richness of Irish culture and heritage. For example, we will visit Ceide Fields and Foxford Mills. Just to give you a little taste of the uniqueness of this pilgrimage, here is a description of Ceide Fields in Ballycastle: “The Céide Fields in North Mayo … is not just another archaeological monument or visitor centre. Here you can indulge yourself in a vast prehistoric landscape, a natural wild ecology of blanket bog, dramatic cliffs and coastline, and a much acclaimed building, which has received Ireland’s most prestigious architectural award. The Céide Fields are the oldest known field systems in the world, over five and a half millennia old. It is a unique Neolithic landscape of world importance, which has changed our perception of our Stone Age ancestors. The remains of stone field walls, houses and megalithic tombs are preserved beneath a blanket of peat over several square miles. They tell a story of the everyday lives of a farming people, their organized society, their highly developed spiritual beliefs, and their struggle against a changing environment beyond their control.”
We will celebrate Mass each day including Mass at the Cathedral in Tuam as well as at Knock. This pilgrimage begins on Monday, June 4, 2012 with a flight from JFK airport to Shannon airport. After some relaxing days in the west of Ireland and a memorable visit to the shrine of Our Lady of Knock, the highlight will be the beginning of the Eucharistic Congress on Sunday, June 10 with the opening Mass.
The theme of the day on Monday is exploring and celebrating our Communion through the Sacrament of Baptism. Tuesday’s theme will be exploring and celebrating the Communion of Marriage and Family. We chose these days of the Congress because these themes are rich in meaning for living the Christian life. Unless you wish to stay longer, our pilgrimage group will return to JFK airport in New York from Dublin on Wednesday, June 13. There will also be an option to come on June 10th for the Eucharistic Congress and then go off to visit relatives or explore Ireland on your own.
Travel arrangements are being made through 206 Tours in Hauppauge. Brochures will be available in September. If you wish to make preliminary inquiries or have a brochure sent to you, contact Eva at 206 Tours at 631-361-4644 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A pilgrimage is a journey of faith. It means that we deliberately displace ourselves from all that is familiar and routine so we can seek God in new ways and so that God may gain a hearing in our hearts and come to live in new openings within our spirit. A pilgrimage should be meaningful, prayerful, fun, and enriching to our Christian lives. This pilgrimage will be all these things and more. I hope that you will join us.
May the Lord give you peace.