Some 2,000 of the faithful participate in Diocesan Eucharistic Congress

With the theme, “Real Presence, Real Life,” some 2,000 of the faithful from across the Diocese of Sacramento joined in the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress on March 9 in Sacramento. The event was part of the Eucharistic Revival currently taking place in the diocese and across the United States.

Participants attended one of three simultaneous afternoon gatherings held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, St. Francis of Assisi Parish, and a youth event at Immaculate Conception Parish hosted by the Black Catholic Ministry. The events culminated with the celebration of Mass at each church, followed by three eucharistic processions with the Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament through the streets of downtown, merging at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament for eucharistic adoration in the evening.

The congress featured music, food and inspiring speakers. Priscilla Garza, Pedro de Acevedo and Kairy Marquez presented in Spanish at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. Garza also spoke at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, joined by Father Agustino Torres (a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal based in the Bronx, New York), with music by the Revival Band (composed of youth ministers from the Diocese of San Jose).

Participating in the youth gathering at Immaculate Conception Parish were Ramirez, Father Torres, Voice of Praise Gospel Choir, the Knights of St. Peter Claver and Ladies’ Auxiliary, the Josephine Bakhita Ministry, the Sister Thea Bowman Group, the Swahili community, the Igbo community and St. Anne Parish’s Black Catholic ministry.

Bishop Jaime Soto was the principal celebrant of Mass in Immaculate Conception Church gym, to conclude that gathering. In his homily during the Mass, Father Kenneth Hamilton, a Divine Word Missionary, shared some of his own journey with the Eucharist. He is a lecturer and adjunct professor who also preaches in a number of African American parishes in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sharing that his family originally comes from Mound Bayou in the Mississippi Delta, he noted that his family was among the first to become Catholic, influenced by the priests of the Society of the Divine Word and the Oblate Sisters of Providence who had a great spiritual influence among the people in the area.

“The town was entirely African American. My family was among the first to become Catholic,” he said. “We were surrounded by people of other faiths, and my own great grandfathers were pastors of the local churches.

“So, it was no small thing for my grandmother to choose to become Catholic. She was a leading member of the town, owning the hotel in which both the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Medgar Evans sought refuge.

“God seemed so close, so close you could taste and see him. And those who converted to Catholicism had no doubt that what the priest offered on the table of sacrifice as real food for the hungry and tired pilgrims.”

Father Kenneth went on to live and attend Catholic schools in Detroit and Lansing, Michigan, as well as Chicago. He joined the Society of the Divine Word at Divine Word College in Epworth, Iowa and has been with them in their ministry in black Catholic communities of the country ever since. For the past 42 years he has led revivals, workshops and retreats in the United States in hundreds of parishes and cities.

Throughout those four decades, his relationship with the Eucharist grew, he said. “It grew, even in sad and lonely hours, because I learned to trust in Jesus, I learned to trust in God. Through it all, I’ve learned to depend upon God’s word.

“Who do you say that He is? We must ask ourselves that every time we receive Communion, before we dare to go out and ‘do something in remembrance of Him.’”

‘Fired Up!’ confirmation conference inspires teens and chaperones during Eucharistic Congress weekend

The diocese’s confirmation conference, “Fired Up!”, was included in the Eucharistic Congress weekend.

Over two days, three sessions and two locations, more than 2,700 teens and chaperones participated in this annual event for teens preparing for the reception of the sacrament of confirmation.

On March 9, Father Agustino Torres, Priscilla Garza, Rhyan Ramirez, and the Revival Band kicked off Fired Up at St. Patrick-St. Vincent Catholic High School in Vallejo with 725 young people and chaperones. They shared how the sacraments of Eucharist and confirmation – with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, have helped them find their vocation and leading the teens to recognize this movement in their lives.

On March 10, the team again presented at Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento, where that message of hope and encouragement was shared with 2,035 teens and chaperones during the morning and afternoon sessions. Between the talks, music was shared with young people by the Revival Band and Rhyan Ramirez.

--Information provided by Jennifer Campbell