He dwells among us: Celebrating our Eucharistic Congress

An encounter with the risen Christ himself

As I sit down to compose this column, I am within sight of our 25th Jubilee Anniversary as a diocese and our region’s first Eucharistic Congress. I must say, I am filled with great joy and anticipation as we approach these two important milestones.

Over my nearly four and a half years as bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville, I have received countless graces and blessings, the greatest of which have been the many ways I have witnessed you respond to the call to holiness.

From the first days of my arrival in Knoxville, I have seen the Holy Spirit at work in our local Church by how strongly the faithful have responded to my endless requests to be the hands, feet and face of Jesus to all those that we meet. So as we begin our jubilee anniversary year, what better way to have a face-to-face encounter with Christ than to participate in our Eucharistic Congress?

The two-day celebration will take place at the Sevierville Convention Center. The Eucharistic Congress will begin Friday, Sept. 13, with a youth Mass for all diocesan students followed by a youth concert and adoration led by nationally known singers Josh Blakesley, Sarah Kroger and Johann Alvarez. Additionally, Cardinal Rigali and I will offer a session for the adults.

On Saturday, Sept. 14, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York will deliver the keynote address at the Eucharistic Congress.

Cardinal Dolan, who has been named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time magazine, is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Best-selling author and speaker Dr. Scott Hahn, whose books include The Lamb’s Supper and Rome Sweet Home and is internationally acclaimed as a lecturer, will lead two workshops: one for adults and one for youth.

Father Robert Barron, founder and executive director of the popular Word on Fire Catholic Ministries who is described as one of the Catholic Church’s best messengers, also will lead a workshop for adults. Father Barron is rector and president of Mundelein Seminary near Chicago.

Father Rafael Capó, who heads the Southeast Pastoral Institute and is a regional director for Hispanic Ministry for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will lead a workshop for Hispanic parishioners.

Singer and speaker ValLimar Jansen, a university professor and leader of worship and prayer who presents workshops at conferences across the country, is leading a youth breakout session.

And Sister Rosa M. Hernandez, MGSpS, who is with the migrant ministry team in the Diocese of Stockton, also will lead a workshop for Hispanic members of the diocese.

Finally, I will celebrate the diocesan-wide Mass that concludes the Eucharistic Congress with cardinals, bishops and priests from across the diocese and country concelebrating.

The list of high-profile speakers and singers we are blessed to have for our Eucharistic Congress has attracted attendees from across the diocese and throughout the United States—we even have registrants from Canada.

As the registration deadline for the Eucharistic Congress is quickly approaching (Aug. 31), it is my prayer that if you have not already registered you will do so soon as our Eucharistic Congress is a fitting tribute to the Church in East Tennessee and the faithful who have worked so hard to build the diocese. Happy 25th Anniversary!