The curtain came down on the 4-day National Eucharistic Congress of India on Sunday, in Mumbai, with delegates from all of the country's dioceses pledging themselves to nourish others having been nourished by the Eucharist. The theme of the Nov. 12-15 Eucharistic congress, held in the Pius X Seminary, Goregaon was, “Nourished by Christ, to Nourish Others”. The Eucharistic Congress commemorated 50 years of Blessed Pope Paul VI’s visit to India, Dec 2-5, 1964, to celebrate the 38th International Eucharistic Congress in Bombay, today called Mumbai.
Besides delegating Sri Lankan Cardinal, Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, as his special envoy to the event, Pope Francis also sent a video message to the participants. The concluding Mass on Sunday was celebrated using the chalice that Blessed Pope Paul VI had gifted to Bombay Archdiocese 50 years ago, as well as another chalice gifted this time by Pope Francis and brought by Card. Ranjith.
A Eucharistic Congress gathers together the clergy, religious and laity to promote the awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Catholic Church. It helps improve the understanding and celebration of the liturgy and draws attention to the social dimension of the Eucharist.
At the end of the Mass, the host of the Congress, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay made a pledge with all delegates joining in, to nourish others, in tune with the theme of the Eucharistic Congress.
Below is the text of the pledge:
We delegates from dioceses all over the country met Jesus during this National Eucharistic Congress: in the Word that we listened to; in moments of prayer and silence; and especially in the Sacred Bread and Chalice that we shared. These four days of the Eucharistic Congress were days of intimacy with the Lord. They have transformed us: and so nourished by Christ we go out to nourish others: the hungry and the thirsty; the stranger and the naked; the sick and those in prison (Mt 25: 34-36). Continue to nourish us Lord. May the Eucharist always be our strength, our courage and the Light that we give to the world.
Please find below the text of the press release by the Catholic Communication Centre of the Archdiocese of Bombay, on the concluding day of the Nov. 12-15 National Eucharistic Congress of India.
The concluding day began in keeping with Catholic practice – Morning Prayer. This was conducted in the Latin Rite for a packed congregation, in the Seminary Chapel.
On this the final day of the National Eucharistic Congress, the delegates, representatives and participants were eager to catch every drop of grace that this special event offered. For many, it had been a first time, even once in a lifetime, experience.
Praise and Worship was led by the ‘Ambassadors for Christ’ – the talented five-member all-Priests Band. A video-bulletin recap of the preceding day’s events of the National Eucharistic Congress was broadcast to the audience, providing a nostalgic glimpse of everything that they had witnessed and reminding them of the ‘Emmaus’ (encounter with Christ) experience that they could take home and share with their families, communities, parishes and dioceses.
The Congress was a national event and there is no more fitting way to mark this than to honour the National Anthem. As the melodious strains of the Jana Gana Mana filled the Oval Ground and the surroundings, everyone – even the scurrying support staff and volunteers – came to a respectful standstill. This was a reminder that we are one family united not only as Catholics but also as members of this one great nation, India.
Testimonies were presented by Ms. Divya Immanuel and Justice Joseph Kurien who appreciated the singing of the Indian National Anthem – the true expression of patriotism by Catholics who respect, love and serve their Nation and their brothers and sisters. The day’s Catechesis (teaching in faith) focused on the Eucharist and Youth.
The Faith Celebration encompassed two events: a play by ‘Jesus Youth’ - an enactment of Jesus’ love that heals the hurt and binds the broken, and ‘Broken for all’ – a musical presentation based on the theme ‘The Eucharist: Nourished by Christ to Nourish Others’.
Before the actual commencement of the Eucharist, the Papal Legate, on behalf of Pope Francis, presented a beautiful golden chalice with silver overlay and studded with rubies to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, as a gift to India and in particular to the Archdiocese of Bombay.
The concluding Eucharist, the Statio Nationalis – a nation’s collective pause in our pilgrim journey of faith – was celebrated by the Papal Legate, His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith. Nostalgia was provided by links to the 38th International Eucharistic Congress, held in Mumbai in 1964, through the Golden Lily chalice, the altar and the Presidential Chair which were used by Blessed Pope Paul VI when he celebrated the Eucharist here 50 years ago.
The ‘Prayer of the Faithful’ - intentions for the Universal Church, the Church in India, families in parishes, those present at the NEC, those suffering because of their loyalty to Christ, the victims of the terrorist attack in Paris – were offered in Hindi, Telugu, Konkani, Bengali, Gujarati, Khasi and English. Parts of the liturgy were conducted in Latin, English and Hindi reflecting the languages used by the Church, past and present.
At the conclusion of the Eucharist, the Bishops took a pledge to make the theme ‘The Eucharist: Nourished by Christ to Nourish Others’ a reality. (The text of the pledge is attached)
After the Eucharistic Celebration concluded, His Eminence invited everyone present to wish the Papal Legate, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, for his birthday which fell on November 15 – everyone spontaneously burst into the ‘Happy Birthday’ song! Cardinal Gracias then presented Cardinal Ranjith with an exquisite icon of Our Lady, as a token of appreciation for his presence during the National Eucharistic Congress and the desire on our part to place him in our Lady’s care. Cardinal Gracias also thanked the Consul General of Sri Lanka, Madame Saroja, who attended the Congress.
In his Valedictory Address, Cardinal Gracias acknowledged the efforts of the CBCI and the Steering Committee, and added a special note of thanks to all who helped to make this event memorable. The secret to excellence is hard work, and in the case of the National Eucharistic Congress, the work carried out by different teams silently behind the scenes, was seen in the results. Humbly thanking God, His Eminence reminded us that the labourer toils in vain if the Lord is not with him.
As an outcome of the National Eucharistic Congress, and keeping in view the Jubilee of Mercy declared by Pope Francis, efforts by the Archdiocese of Bombay are underway to organise a team of lawyers to help the ‘under trial’ prisoners, and to build a home for the specially challenged.
Bishop Jacob Mar Barnabas, Archbishop Emeritus Stanislaus Fernandes, Bishop Thomas Elavanal and His Excellency Salvatore Pennacchio, the Apostolic Nuncio, also expressed their appreciation of the National Eucharistic Congress 2015.
The National Eucharistic Congress concluded with the singing of the Anthem: the refrain “through the Eucharistic we are alive” was on everyone’s lips as they readied to take the message back home.