“If Angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.” — St. Maximilian Kolbe
By Pamela Seal
Diocese of Lake Charles
The Diocese of Lake Charles will hold the first Eucharistic Congress in its 41-year history November 12-21 to bring about a spiritual renewal and deeper understanding of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
The gathering of clergy, religious, and laity will include the celebration of Holy Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, processions, engaging speakers, and other devotions throughout the 10-day event. A special day will be set aside focused on the youth in each church parish.
The Congress will kick off at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12, at the Lake Charles Civic Center Amphitheatre, followed with the main event, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 13, at the West Cal Arena and Events Center in Sulphur. The Most Reverend Glen John Provost will be the celebrant for Mass at 6 p.m. on Saturday to close out the all-day event.
For Monsignor Daniel A. Torres, V.G., chairman of the Congress, the expectation is for people in the Diocese to rekindle their faith in Jesus Christ, to return to the Catholic Church and the Sacraments, and to possess a reverence for the Eucharist.
“During this time of the pandemic, recovery from hurricanes, a winter storm, and flooding, as well as personal pain and struggles of life, family, economic hardships, and a numbness to everything, the Eucharistic Congress can offer an opportunity for all to see that God is with us; God has not abandoned us,” Torres said.
The idea for a Eucharistic Congress was presented to Bishop Provost and the Presbyteral Council by the Very Rev. Edward Richard, M.S., V.F., pastor of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church in Sulphur.
Father Richard, who also serves as Dean of the West Deanery, said the intention is to provide an opportunity for Christian formation regarding the mystery of the Eucharist and how lives can be molded in the light of this great gift of God.
“The number one priority of the Eucharistic Congress should be directed to the increase of faith in the Most Holy Eucharist for what it truly is, the Real Presence of Jesus Christ,” said Father Richard.
"The Lord Jesus has given this Holy Sacrament so that we might encounter Him who Is,” Father Richard continued. “My hope is that the entire mystery of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is better integrated into the way parishes worship as well as into the personal faith lives of Christians.”
Opening night at the Civic Center includes outdoor praise and worship music in English and Spanish, a bilingual Rosary, and candlelight procession with the Blessed Sacrament from the amphitheater to the Cathedral for all-night Adoration until 6 a.m. on Nov. 13.
Highlights of the main event in Sulphur will feature talks from local priests, including Father Ruben Buller, Monsignor Arthur Calkins, Father Ruben Villarreal, and Father Richard, on various aspects of the Eucharist.
On Wednesday, Nov. 17, a Spanish-language Mass will be celebrated at 5:30 p.m. at St. Henry Catholic Church in Lake Charles. Adoration and a Eucharistic talk will be presented by Father Randy Courville from the Diocese of Lafayette.
Church parishes throughout the week will offer special hours of adoration, pray novenas and litanies, and offer catechesis on the Eucharist.
When public Masses were suspended in the spring of 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Monsignor Torres, pastor of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, said he recognized a concern for those who do not believe in the True Presence. For two months, he carried the Blessed Sacrament throughout the streets of Our Lady Queen of Heaven parish territory with the help of three red Ford trucks.
“The first week, people thought it was a parade; the second week, people continued to act up and did not take it seriously,” Torres said. “By the third week and the weeks that followed, tears were streaming down the faces of the faithful as they knelt in their yards as the Lord Jesus passed them for a few seconds. … All one could do was cry that they were not able to receive the physical Presence of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ himself in the Eucharist.”
Monsignor Torres said he hopes the Eucharistic Congress will spark a greater awareness, offer catechesis, and help Catholics realize that priests are doing everything possible to bring Jesus to the people of God.
All events are free, and no registration is required. Seating at the West Cal Arena and Events Center is limited to 1,200. A love offering will be accepted during the Mass on Nov. 13 to help with the expenses.