By Maria Wiering
(OSV News) — Attendees of the National Eucharistic Congress July 17-21 in Indianapolis now have the option of purchasing single-day and weekend passes in order to make attendance more affordable and flexible, the bishop overseeing the congress announced Nov. 15.
Speaking at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fall plenary assembly in Baltimore, Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, also said scholarship funds may help ease the costs for some attendees, via the bishops’ Solidarity Fund.
“We have heard well the concerns of some, that they find the length or the cost (of the congress) difficult, and we’ve worked hard over the last year to find ways to make it affordable and accessible, so that it can be a gathering of the whole church, so that we can literally open wide the doors to Christ for people to come,” Bishop Cozzens, chairman of the National Eucharistic Congress Inc. and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, told the assembly of bishops.
Standard passes for the five-day congress are $299-$375 for adults and $99 for children ages 2-18 traveling with their family. The cost covers admission for congress events at Lucas Oil Stadium, which include general sessions, breakout sessions, liturgies, the vendor hall and unique congress tracks. The cost does not include housing, transportation or meals related to the congress.
Registration is open for standard passes, which also include access to premium seating and digital access to congress content.
The single-day passes will range $49-$95 depending on the day, and weekend passes will be $125. Registration for day and weekend passes will open in January. A limited number of discounted single-day passes will be available for early registrants.
The congress’ Solidarity Fund was created by the bishops this summer to provide scholarships covering the congress’ full registration cost for attendees who express financial need, and it now includes more than $750,000, contributed by dioceses, private donors and foundations. The National Eucharistic Congress’ executive team also is working to identify affordable housing in and around Indianapolis for attendees.
“The biggest challenge that we’ve had has been the availability of housing in Indianapolis,” Bishop Cozzens told the bishops. “A higher-than-anticipated early demand on hotels for the congress, coupled with a lower-than-expected inventory from the early estimates of the hotel community in Indianapolis have created a crunch on available housing for us.”
However, the challenge also is an opportunity, he said, because “one of the things we want to do is to allow the church to welcome the church, and to make the congress a true pilgrimage.”
The congress’ team members are working to identify accommodations at local college dormitories, parishes, schools and retreat centers, he said.
Organizers have said they expect the event to draw 80,000 Catholics to Indianapolis. According to Tim Glemkowski, CEO of the National Eucharistic Congress Inc., just under 30,000 passes have been reserved for the congress so far.
The National Eucharistic Congress is the pinnacle of the National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year initiative the USCCB launched in 2022 to renew and strengthen Catholics’ understanding of and love for Jesus in the Eucharist. The revival’s first year focused on diocesan leadership. Its second year, now underway, focuses on parish life, with its final year focused on missionary discipleship. The revival’s website, http://www.eucharisticrevival.org, contains a number of multimedia resources that support the revival’s aims.
The revival includes a National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, which will include pilgrims walking across the country along four designated pilgrimage routes with the Eucharist, converging in Indianapolis for the congress. The pilgrimage begins in Brownsville, Texas; New Haven, Connecticut; northern Minnesota; and San Francisco May 17-19, the weekend of Pentecost. Catholics are invited to join the routes’ “perpetual pilgrims” — young adult Catholics walking the entire route — for daily Mass and processions, or join the “Eucharistic caravans” for hours or days.
“We expect hundreds of thousands of people to join some portion of this pilgrimage, and we’re delighted to announce that the Apostolic Penitentiary will be issuing a decree granting a plenary indulgence to anyone who participates in one of the four legs of the pilgrimage, as well as those who participate in the National Eucharistic Congress,” Bishop Cozzens said.
The congress will be the first national Eucharistic gathering in the United States in 83 years, with the last being the Ninth National Eucharistic Congress held in St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1941. The 41st International Eucharistic Congress was held in Philadelphia in 1976, drawing an estimated 1.5 million people. St. Teresa of Kolkata and Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day, now a servant of God, were panelists on the topic of “Women and the Eucharist”; St. John Paul II — then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, the archbishop of Krakow, Poland — gave a homily on justice; and sitting U.S. President Gerald Ford delivered an address on freedom and peace.
The Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses continues to organize international gatherings, with the 53rd International Eucharist Congress planned Sept. 8-15 in Quito, Ecuador.
The National Eucharistic Congress website, http://www.eucharisticcongress.org, also was expected to be updated Nov. 15, with a complete schedule expected to be released in January.
In his presentation to the bishops, Bishop Cozzens noted that National Eucharistic Revival leaders had a private audience with Pope Francis June 19. Although the pope had been discharged from the hospital the day before, “his enthusiasm and joy were palpable,” he said.
“He spoke very powerfully of both our National Eucharistic Revival and our congress,” Bishop Cozzens said. “It was really an incredible moment for us as a group and really felt like we had the Holy Father’s blessing.”
Bishop Cozzens also updated the bishops on new resources for the revival, especially the parish year underway. He noted the survey on the Eucharist released by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in September, which, he said, “seemed to show that perhaps even as high as 60% of Catholics were able to identify the church’s teaching on the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, but it confirmed, sadly, that only 17% of Catholics are attending Mass on Sunday, down from 24% in 2019.”
“It made me think and pray a lot about that distinction, right? People can say they might believe in Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist or in the reality of the Eucharist, but they don’t come to Mass on Sunday. How do we make up that gap?’ he asked. “It seems to me it’s through this encounter with Jesus alive in the Eucharist that we invite them into the full participation.”
Bishop Cozzens called the congress “an opportunity for us to come together and as a church to gather and be renewed.” He encouraged bishops to “walk with” the Catholics who attend the congress from their dioceses “so this doesn’t just become an event, but in fact becomes a way to spur evangelization that we hope will happen in your diocese when they go home.”
“Whether participants attend for one day or five days, they will be invited to a profound experience of renewal by the Holy Spirit, and they’ll be invited, we hope, to be set on fire with that missionary desire. … I just pray that as we gather together in Indianapolis, this might be a moment of great renewal and great revival for our church.”
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Maria Wiering is senior writer for OSV News.
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