Adoremus preview: Liverpool awaits Eucharistic Congress

By Simon Hart

Britain's first National Eucharistic Congress since 1908 will take place in the city from 79 September
 
Thousands of pilgrims from across England and Wales will descend on Liverpool this month when the city hosts the first national Eucharistic Congress in the United Kingdom for more than 100 years.

The Adoremus National Eucharistic Pilgrimage and Congress will take place over three days from 7–9 September and is expected to draw up to 10,000 people to the ACC Convention Centre on the Liverpool waterfront. The Kings Dock venue will stage the main events on the first two days – Friday 7th and Saturday 8th – before the Metropolitan Cathedral holds two special Pilgrim Masses on Sunday 9th.

It was in London in 1908 that the Roman Catholic Church last organised a Congress of this kind in this country. A Eucharistic Congress is a gathering of clergy, religious and laity to promote an awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Church, and according to Bishop Robert Barron, the main speaker on Day 2 at the ACC Convention Centre, this represents 'a great opportunity to revive the faith across the UK'.

The Archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon, added: 'Delegates from around the country will be gathering in Liverpool to participate in events in and around the city that will focus us on Christ, the bread of life. Through adoration, talks, workshops, keynote speakers, Masses and other activities we will be given the chance to reflect on how our adoration of Christ in the Eucharist nourishes our lives as disciples.'

On Friday 7 September the pilgrims will be welcomed to the city by Archbishop Malcolm together with His Excellency Archbishop Edward Adams, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain. During the day they will hear presentations on the Eucharist in the life of the Church and how this is seen in various situations including in hospitals and prisons, through social justice and ecumenical relations, and in education and music. There will later be an evening Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral for those wishing to attend.

Each of the three days will have its own theme and Friday's programme at the ACC Convention Centre, running from 10.30am to 5.45pm, is titled 'Adoremus Symposium Day – Exploring the Place of Eucharistic Adoration'. Saturday will be the 'Adoremus Congress Day – Reflecting on the centrality of the Eucharist', and it starts at 10.30am and concludes at 5pm.

Bishop Barron, who will be speaking in both the morning and afternoon sessions, said: 'I've been saying for years that the Eucharist is the key to the renewal of the Church – it's the key to the new evangelisation, so if you're interested in the renewal of the Church across the UK, come join a lot of your fellow Catholics at this great Congress.'

Bishop Barron is founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries and uses the tools of new media to promote the Catholic faith, as well as working with NBC News in New York as an on-air contributor and analyst. He is also a frequent commentator for the Chicago TribuneCNN and the Catholic News Agency. Following his address, the themes of the Congress will be explored through drama, testimony and presentations.

Sunday, meanwhile, is the 'Pilgrimage day' of the Congress and there will be two Masses at the Metropolitan Cathedral – the first at 9.30am will be celebrated by Archbishop Malcolm and the second at 11.30am by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, with Archbishop Malcolm preaching. For the final act of the Congress, there will be an outdoor Eucharistic Procession through the streets surrounding the Cathedral, starting at 1pm, followed by Benediction.

Alongside the main Adoremus programme there will be a Youth Congress for 1,000 young people in the ACC Arena Auditorium on Saturday 8th, running from 11.30am to 5.30pm. The main speaker will be the international educator and author Katie Prejean McGrady from Louisiana. Katie has been speaking throughout the United States and Canada since 2007, combining humour and storytelling with teaching theological truth for audiences of all ages.

The Youth Congress will comprise a separate stream of events for those aged 13–15, 16–17 and 18–20 and contributors will include the Rise Theatre group, Jo Boyce and friends, Cafod, Animate, Salesians, One Hope, and Joel's Bar. Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Malcolm McMahon will be present for part of the Youth Congress, which will conclude with a time of exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. A subsequent evening activity for young people is the Night Fever event at the Blessed Sacrament Shrine in Liverpool city centre from 7.30–10.30pm.

In addition to the main events a parallel programme of 27 different events has been organised in churches and other venues. These include a commentary and presentation by Liverpool writer Jimmy McGovern following a screening of his BAFTA award-winning drama 'Broken'. This will happen at St Francis Xavier's church in Salisbury Street where filming for the series took place.

'Eucharist, the Bread of Life' is a ticket-only event scheduled at the Parish Church of Our Lady and St Nicholas. Archbishop Malcolm will join an ecumenical discussion also featuring the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, and the Methodist District Chair, Dr Sheryl Anderson, and chaired by the journalist Clifford Longley. 'Food for the Hungry: practical responses to physical hunger' will be held at the Nugent Kitchen in Epson Street, meanwhile, and involves food-related workshops.

Visitors to the Metropolitan Cathedral on any of the three days can explore an exhibition of items from the 1908 Eucharistic Congress which will be on display in the Abraham apse together with an International Exhibition of Eucharistic Miracles.

• For full information on the Congress, visit: http://www.catholicnews.org.uk/adoremus2018
  
• Information on the Parallel Events is at: http://www.liverpoolcatholic.org.uk/adoremus
 
• Information on the Youth Congress is at: http://www.adoremusyouth.co.uk