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The Deacon Experience at the National Eucharistic Congress

Talks will address the unique role of deacons in the Church

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Deacon Dominic CerratoThe National Eucharistic Congress stands as a pivotal event in the Catholic Church’s journey through a three-year Eucharistic revival. This initiative, which began in 2022, endeavors to rejuvenate the Church by reigniting a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ in the holy Eucharist. This revival unfolds in three distinct phases: diocesan revival, parish revival and missionary outreach, each integral to rekindling the Catholic faith across America. At its core, this revival aims to mend the fractures of division and doubt with the unifying and transformative power of the Eucharist.

The Congress, scheduled for July 17-21 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, marks the first of its kind in 83 years in the United States. With an anticipated attendance of around 80,000 Catholics, it serves as the crescendo of the bishops’ initiative, responding to a pressing need highlighted by polls revealing a significant number of Catholics either misunderstand or are disengaged from the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist. This historic event, therefore, is not just a gathering but a profound call to deepen faith and understanding in the real presence of Christ.

Integral to the Congress is the Deacon Experience, a series of presentations by nationally known deacon speakers focusing specifically on the diaconate’s relationship to the Eucharist. Themed “The Eucharist as Our Source of Our Life and Ministry,” these talks address the unique role of deacons in the Church. The diaconate, an order intrinsically linked to service and charity, finds its spiritual sustenance and mission in the Eucharist. The Deacon Experience will explore this connection through two movements: the interior movement of deepening the deacon’s personal Eucharistic devotion, and the exterior movement of spreading this devotion within parish communities.

The interior movement is foundational, emphasizing the necessity for deacons to cultivate a more intimate relationship with Christ the Servant. This deepening of Eucharistic devotion echoes the words of Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of the Diocese of Crookston, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, who asserts that an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist moves Catholics toward being missionary disciples. For those of us called to the diaconate, this encounter is not merely for personal sanctification but also equips us to embody Christ the Servant more fully in our ministry.

The exterior movement, equally critical, focuses on how we can effectively foster Eucharistic devotion in our communities, particularly through Holy Hours and other liturgical services. This movement is vital for the transmission of the Eucharistic mystery and its relevance to the life of the Church. The Deacon Experience features speakers Deacon James Keating, Deacon Joseph Michalak, Deacon Omar Gutierrez and me. It will provide practical and spiritual insights into these dual movements.

In essence, the National Eucharistic Congress and the Deacon Experience within it serve as a profound opportunity for renewal and mission. It is an invitation for us to delve deeper into the mystery of the Eucharist, which is, as the Second Vatican Council teaches, the “source and summit of the Christian life.” This renewed encounter with the Eucharist is not an end in itself but a beginning — a catalyst for a missionary transformation that the Church hopes to witness in the wake of this revival.

As the congress approaches, it is an opportune time for those of us called to the diaconate to reflect on our ordination, recalling our configuration to Christ the Servant. The Eucharist, as the heart of the Church’s life, offers an inexhaustible source of grace for this reflection and for the ministry that flows from it. In the dynamic interplay of worship and service, the diaconate finds its truest expression and its most profound fulfillment.

The Deacon Experience is free to those who sign up. Register at Use the code OSVNEC for a discount when registering for the National Eucharistic Congress. We hope to see you there!

DEACON DOMINIC CERRATO, Ph.D., is editor of The Deacon and director of diaconal formation for the Diocese of Joliet, in Illinois. He is the founder of Diaconal Ministries, where he gives national presentations and retreats to deacons and diaconal candidates.

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