Explore the history of National Eucharistic Congresses in the United States and the evolution of these gatherings to fit the needs of the time!
The first Eucharistic Congress was international in scope, appropriately themed “The Eucharist Saves the World.” This launched a movement of Eucharistic Congresses worldwide, inspiring Catholics to unite in worship around the Eucharistic table.
The five National Congresses held in the U.S. under Bishop Maes were mostly gatherings of clergy which included prayer, presentation of papers on Eucharistic themes and discussion, ending in resolutions.
Bishop Schrembs issued the first national invitation to laity in the history of the Congress movement! In addition to the usual planning committee of clergy, there was a lay committee, and the sessions for clergy were complemented by sessions and programs for Catholic men and women.
World War II disrupted plans for Congresses all over the globe. International Congresses resumed in 1952, including a historic gathering in Philadelphia in 1976. And yet, the U.S. has not held a National Eucharistic Congress in 83 years!