Memorable Eucharistic Congress Draws 3,500 from many Dioceses to final Mass


The final Mass of a memorable four-day Eucharistic Congress in Birmingham, on the theme BEHOLD THE LAMB, was attended by more than 3,500 people, from many dioceses and parishes in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and overseas, on Sunday afternoon, 17 July.

It was hot and there was little shade but this did not stop young and old alike entering fully into the deeply prayerful 2½-hour celebration that concluded with a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols was the chief concelebrant together with the new Papal Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munos, Bishop Malcolm McMahon OP of Nottingham, Bishop Philip Pargeter, Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, Fr Julian Green, Congress Director, and more than 120 priests.

At the start of Mass, held in the grounds of St Mary’s College, Oscott, the Birmingham Diocesan Seminary, Archbishop Vincent Nichols welcomed the new Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munos, the personal representative of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, on his first visit to the Midlands.

The four-day Congress sponsored by the Dioceses of Birmingham, Nottingham and Northampton, was held in response to Pope John Paul II’s invitation to celebrate the Year of the Eucharist.

In his homily Archbishop Vincent Nichols said: “During this Congress we have reflected deeply on the meaning of the Eucharist. We have learned that when we speak of the body, we mean all that makes up a person living in this world: our minds, our hearts, our strength, our time, our ideas our energy – and our smiles.

“We have learned that when we speak of the blood that is shed, we mean all that slowly ebbs our life away: our ageing, our illness, our suffering, our deprivation, and, in the end our death itself.

“In the Eucharist, then, being one with Christ, we offer our entire selves, our entire human experience with Christ as a sacrifice to God. It is all this that is consecrated, made holy, and can become a source of life, the new life of the Kingdom.

“Then, with Christ, we pledge to give of ourselves – our body and blood – in service to our brothers and sisters. This is my body. This is my blood. Each of us says this silently during Mass, promising to spend ourselves doing the will of the Father.

“Christ feeds us. He fulfils the eternal will of the Father that he should feed his people. We promise to do the same, to nourish and feed one another, and to reach out to all. That is the source of our joy and the hope of our world.

“Gathered around the Lord, in the Mass and in the Blessed Sacrament, we are most fully and most vividly the Church. He, and he alone, is our centre. Our unity comes from him, and from nowhere else. Our mission, our sense of purpose, comes from Him.”

“Today, then, we celebrate being the Church, the Holy People of God, delighting in his love, rejoicing in his presence, and renewed, in heart and soul, for sharing day by day in his labours of love. To him be all honour, praise and glory, for ever and ever.”


Eucharistic Congress opens in Birmingham