Hungary for the Eucharist
In September the Church will stage the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress in Hungary. Bishop Victor Phalana explains more.
The 52nd International Eucharistic Congress will be held from September 5-12 this year in Budapest, Hungary. Pope Francis has announced that he will be part of the closing ceremony in Budapest on September 12. The Eucharistic Congress, held every four years, was supposed to take place in 2020 but had to be postponed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The theme of this Eucharistic Congress is “All my springs are in you”, quoting Psalms 87:7.
Eucharistic congresses are designed to promote devotion to and belief in Jesus Christ truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. In 1967, following the Second Vatican Council, the then Sacred Congregation of Rites wrote: “In Eucharistic congresses, Christians seek to understand this mystery more deeply through a consideration of its many aspects.”
It emphasised the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, saying that during Eucharistic congresses, the faithful “should venerate [this mystery] through devotions and private prayers, especially by solemn processions, in such a way that all these forms of devotion find their climax in the solemn celebration of Mass”.
What’s the programme?
It is my hope that pilgrims from Southern Africa will go in their hundreds to celebrate this holy event. I attended my first International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines, in 2016. The presence of African pilgrims, with their bright and colourful attires, their songs and dances in the streets of Cebu, filled me with joy. African prelates, priests, religious and laity participated in the programmes of the congress. They were part of the Morning Prayer (Lauds), catechesis, Holy Mass and workshops. The programme includes Eucharistic adoration and cultural events in the evening. One day is reserved for visiting parishes in and around Budapest.
On September 5, the opening ceremony will include First Communion for hundreds of children. On September 10, there will be a youth festival at a local stadium. The day after is the “Festival for Families”. In the evening there will be a candlelight procession. On September 12, the Holy Father will come to celebrate the closing Mass.
How to take part
There is a pre-registration option available on the congress website (www.iec2021.hu). It’s best to find a reputable travel agency to organise the trip, as a group or to travel individually. Use one that can also assist with registration. Travel consultants will advise on the requirements regarding the Covid pandemic, and can also arrange excursions to other places of pilgrimage.
South African citizens need a Schengen visa for Hungary, but that will also be valid for excursions to Rome or most other European countries.
The SACBC Department of Christian Formation, Liturgy and Culture will guide our conference area on how we can be part of the special event locally. The suggestion is that we try and do something on the parish level, to raise the awareness of the faithful about the centrality of the Eucharist in our faith. It is up to each parish to organise its own programmes for children, youth and adults, around the theme of the Eucharist.
It’s also important for us to make everyone aware of the fact that this is the year of the International Eucharistic Congress. Most of us will not be able to attend, but we can make sure that the feast of Corpus Christi this year, on June 6, is given special attention. It is also important that religious, seminarians and all parishes begin to pray for the success of the congress.
Eucharistic Congress in SA?
In one of our bishops’ meetings, we felt that successful parish Eucharistic events can lead to diocesan Eucharistic congresses in a year or two. Successful diocesan congresses can lead to a national Eucharistic congress. The bishops felt that after a successful national Eucharistic congress, we might consider raising our hand to host an international Eucharistic congress — but that is still a long way off.
Bishop Phalana heads the diocese of Klerksdorp.
This article was published in the May issue of The Southern Cross magazine
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