Bishop William F. Medley incenses the Blessed Sacrament during a period of Adoration at the Dec. 6 Eucharistic Revival gathering. RILEY GREIF | WKC
‘We too must bear Christ into the world’
Dec. 6 gathering features Eucharistic Revival preacher
BY ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD, THE WESTERN KENTUCKY CATHOLIC
Speaking to the crowd of 256 people gathered for the day at the Owensboro Convention Center, Fr. Connor Danstrom said it doesn’t make sense to say, “I am Catholic” – but not to “understand or believe in the Eucharist.”
Fr. Danstrom was the guest speaker for the Diocese of Owensboro’s Dec. 6 Eucharistic Revival gathering for priests, parish staff, Newman Center staff and Catholic school administrators. He is one of the 56 National Eucharistic Preachers commissioned to travel around the country and speak to dioceses as part of the National Eucharistic Revival, led by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“The way we celebrate and pray the Mass communicates to others what we believe of the Eucharist,” he said. He asked, “Do we act as though that’s who we are in the presence of?”
A priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Fr. Danstrom currently serves as the chaplain of the St. John Paul II Newman Center at University of Illinois – Chicago. He said that in today’s “age of spectacle,” it is vital to often make time to step away from digital screens and enter into prayer – especially mental prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration.
“In an age of spectacle, isn’t it even more important to sit in the ‘unremarkable’ presence of Christ?” he said. “If we sit there long enough, our desires can be refocused to their proper end. He is always working hard to draw you into deeper communion.”
This gathering was part of the first year of the three-year revival, which launched on Corpus Christi in June 2022.
According to eucharisticrevival.org, the official website for the initiative, the National Eucharistic Revival exists to “inspire and prepare the People of God to be formed, healed, converted, united, and sent out to a hurting and hungry world through a renewed encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist – the source and summit of our Catholic faith.”
The Dec. 6 gathering kicked off with 8 a.m. Mass at St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro. Fr. John Thomas, rector of the cathedral, focused his homily on the Gospel reading of the Good Shepherd who seeks the one lost sheep.
“This parable of the lost sheep should be of particular interest for all of us,” said Fr. Thomas. “He is the Good Shepherd who would risk everything. Jesus will give everything just for the one.”
He called the faithful to “look at things differently – to look at this parable and realize the cost of salvation. For one soul, Christ will give everything.”
The day was divided into portions for silent Adoration, Morning Prayer, small group discussion, lunch, and speaker presentations.
During the time of morning Adoration, Bishop William F. Medley shared a reflection about the different parts of the Mass as both leading to and branching out from the Eucharist.
“The Eucharist is both sacred meal and holy sacrifice,” he said, explaining that in receiving the Eucharist, “we bear Christ into the world as truly as Mary bore Christ into the world. We too must bear Christ into the world and do our part in salvation history.”
He said the priest’s final words of the liturgy – “Go in peace” – are a reference to the fact that “what happens at the Eucharist cannot stay there.”
The bishop also reflected on the upcoming one-year anniversary of the deadly Dec. 10, 2021 tornadoes, which devastated much of western Kentucky and “where more than 80 of our brothers and sisters died in that storm.”
He urged those gathered not to forget those who experienced the tornadoes and to continue to pray.
Originally printed in the January 2023 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.