Two years ago, from 7 to 9 September 2018, the Adoremus Eucharistic Congress took place in Liverpool. Simon Hart looks back.
Adoremus was the first national event devoted to the Blessed Sacrament in this country since 1908. It is estimated that more than 20,000 Catholics gathered in Liverpool for the three-day event, between Friday 7 and Sunday 9 September, and each will have taken home their own impressions, not only from the main Congress events in the ACC Convention Centre but also the Saturday Youth Congress for 13 to 20-year-olds and the parallel events around the city.
Archbishop Malcolm McMahon said, ‘When we receive the Eucharist in church, it’s imperative for us to be charitable, to be sharing, to give of ourselves to others. You can’t do one without the other. I’m hoping this renewal of our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament will make us more aware of social-justice issues, will make us more caring of each other and allow us to share what we have but also give of our time and ourselves to other people.
‘It also helps our parishes,’ he continued, ‘to know their worship of God in the Blessed Sacrament and Mass and in the adoration, the Eucharist, is really an expression of the way in which we’re united in the body of Christ and how that unity can actually sustain us in our daily lives. That will then make our parishes grow – they won’t just see themselves in terms of structure and organisation but truly as a Eucharistic community.’
Following a symposium on the Eucharist, day two of Adoremus was titled ‘The Adoremus Congress Day – Exploring the Place of Eucharistic Adoration’ and it drew over 5,000 delegates to the main hall of the convention centre, as well as 1,000 young people next door. The highlight for many came in the form of two keynote speeches from the Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, Robert Barron. His insights included reflections on the deeper meaning of the Mass and on the roads we travel as Christians, which he defined as ‘find the centre, know you’re a sinner, realise your life is not about you’. Cardinal Vincent Nichols gave a reflection at Exposition and Benediction, and afterwards he said the event had underlined the ‘joy and richness of the Mass’.
For the young people present at the Youth Congress, they had their own crucial message to take home according to Sister Mary Ann Francalanza, an FCJ sister from Bellerive, namely ‘the important message they are loved and don’t have to be any different than who they are. It’s a really key message that quite a few of the speakers have come back to.’
Day three was Adoremus Pilgrimage Day and featured two morning Masses and then a Eucharistic Procession through the streets around the Metropolitan Cathedral. The pouring rain that fell did nothing to diminish the occasion and Archbishop Malcolm, said he was ‘humbled and honoured’ to take part in a walk involving leaders of Liverpool’s other churches, including the Anglican Bishop, Paul Bayes, and Sheryl Anderson, moderator of the Methodist Church. ‘Fifty years ago that would have been impossible,’ he noted.