‘He’s really here’: 1,000 Catholics adore Eucharist in Omaha
June 23, 2023
The silence in St. Wenceslaus spoke volumes Thursday night as close to 1,000 people from across the Archdiocese of Omaha filled Nebraska’s largest Catholic church for an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist.
Following passionate talks by Archbishop George Lucas and Eucharistic Revival speaker Father Malachy Napier, of the Francisan Friars of the Renewal, the crowd adored the Blessed Sacrament. It was a night aimed at renewing belief in the Source and Summit of Catholic life.
“This is not a nice story,” Father Malachy said.
“It’s not just a neat idea. It’s not just a religious sentiment. It’s reality because God’s Word changes reality, and Jesus said, ‘This is My Body.’ And that’s what we believe, brothers and sisters. He’s really here.”
Father Malachy’s dynamic, hourlong speech at St. Wenceslaus capped off the third of three Eucharistic Encounter events in Nebraska, spearheaded by Spirit Catholic Radio and coordinated with the Archdiocese of Omaha, Diocese of Lincoln and Diocese of Grand Island.
On a summer night during the College World Series in Omaha, attendees filled the parking lot. Many came early to view in the narthex eight first-class relics from saints including St. Luke, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Therese of Lisieux, as well as exhibits of Eucharistic miracles from around the world.
They met with local ministries and apostolates and watched a documentary on the life of Blessed Carlo Acutis, who designed and created the international exhibit.
Eight priests heard confessions throughout the five-hour event, which also featured music by St. Cecilia Schola Caeciliana.
As part of the National Eucharistic Revival, this archdiocesan event sought to help Catholics refocus, rediscover and celebrate the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist through adoration, Eucharistic piety, dynamic teaching, powerful sacred music, and exposure to the local apostolates and ministries.
Seventy percent of Catholics in a recent survey said they did not believe Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, a core teaching of the Church, anchored in Jesus’ institution of the sacrament at The Last Supper.
The U.S. bishops in 2021 announced the initiative – three years of prayer, pilgrimage and worship – that culminates in a special Eucharistic conference in Indianapolis July 17-21, 2024.
In both their speeches, Father Malachy and Archbishop Lucas shared personal reflections on the power of the Eucharist in their lives.
Weaving theology in with personal experience and the witness of martyrs, Father Malachy underscored how the Real Presence changes hearts and lives.
He shared how he had seen encounters like Thursday’s win converts, including a Hindu man in Chicago who told him he had never experienced the presence of God before in his life like he did that night. The man, Father Malachy said, is now preparing to enter the Church.
Father Malachy talked about how he had heard firsthand of healings of broken bones, cancer, persistent back pain, leg deformities and other maladies at encounter events. He explained how the Mass and Holy Communion helped a man shed his a longtime heroin addiction and achieve a year of sobriety.
“I need you to know that He’s Immanuel now,” Father Malachy said.
“In this moment, God is here loving us.”
Aside from transforming the lives of Catholics, the Eucharistic Revival, Father Malachy said, is an opportunity to help draw Catholics into one of Jesus’ chief desires: To set the world ablaze.
“Come close to the fire,” Father Malachy said.
In his remarks, Archbishop Lucas recalled how his first memory of the Eucharist was when he visited his nearby parish in his native St. Louis. His mother shared with him and his siblings how Jesus was present in the tabernacle, taught him to genuflect and pray silently.
His father’s explanation of what was occurring during Mass helped to set the stage for a deepening relationship with the Lord in the Eucharist, he said.
That relationship led him into the priesthood, and he has had the privilege to celebrate the Eucharist in so many places: from cathedrals and rural churches in Nebraska to a remote Guatemala mountain village and his mother’s hospital bedside before she died.
The opportunity to know Jesus and meet Him in a most personal way in Holy Communion is the best thing about being Catholic, and it’s so important that others who don’t know about this truth to hear about the power of these encounters, the archbishop said.
“I’m so thankful someone shared this truth with me and invited me to believe it,” Archbishop Lucas said fighting tears.
He told attendees that he hopes they will take some time to reflect on how the Eucharist has impacted their lives during the Eucharistic Revival in our archdiocese.
“Then I hope you’ll tell somebody else about it.”
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