June 17, 2022

Archbishop hopes eucharistic revival will lead to conversion in individuals, society

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson processes with the Eucharist outside of St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis on Nov. 21, 2019, during the National Catholic Youth Conference. (File photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson processes with the Eucharist outside of St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis on Nov. 21, 2019, during the National Catholic Youth Conference. (File photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Sean Gallagher

On June 19, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson and Catholics across central and southern Indiana will begin the archdiocese’s participation in the three-year National Eucharistic Revival.

The day will include the celebration of two Masses at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis, a festival of faith, family and service, a eucharistic procession in the heart of the city and a holy hour ending with Benediction. (See the full schedule here)

It will all take place on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, traditionally known as Corpus Christi.

In a recent interview with The Criterion, Archbishop Thompson reflected on the important place of the Eucharist in his own life, his hopes that the revival will deepen the faith and ministries of the Church in central Indiana, and how he is looking forward to the National Eucharistic Congress to be held in Indianapolis in July of 2024.

Bringing back God to the center

The archbishop’s hopes for the revival stretch beyond the Church to the broader society.

The eucharistic procession on June 19 will go down Illinois Street into the center of downtown Indianapolis. Two years ago, that same street saw tremendous violence, destruction and social unrest following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

Archbishop Thompson spoke about how the eucharistic procession can be a visible way to bring God back to the center of society, which has been wounded in so many ways.

“We push God to the side and then we wonder why the violence, the chaos, the injustice continues to deepen and grow, why the wounds are not healing,” he said. “Until we bring God back to the center of all of that, those wounds aren’t going to heal. We’re not going to reconcile.

“So that Eucharist is a reminder for us as Catholics first and to others that God has to be at the core, at the center of all of this. Christ came to bring that deeply personal encounter with God to us through his own body, blood, soul and divinity. The Eucharist is the presence of God at the center of our lives where we believe, as Catholics, all things come together.”

‘It’s all about Christ’

The seeds of this broad vision for the transformative effect that the Eucharist can have on individuals and society were planted in the heart of Archbishop Thompson as he grew up in a deeply Catholic part of rural central Kentucky.

“I have vivid memories of my first Communion,” he recalled. “They lined us according to size. It was me, all the girls then the rest of the guys. I was the smallest of the group.”

Later as a college student and then a seminarian, the Eucharist continued to be at the heart of his life of faith.

“When I was discerning in the seminary, the Eucharist was at the center of that discernment,” he said, “what it meant to receive the body and blood of Christ, the privilege that that was and continues to be to receive that nourishment and strength provided by the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.”

That centeredness in the Eucharist continued after he was ordained a priest and has only intensified in his last 11 years serving as a bishop.

“We have 126 parishes and 68 schools,” Archbishop Thompson said. “I go to all of those different places and celebrate Mass, connecting with the people.

“At the center of that, it’s not about Chuck Thompson. It’s not about someone in that particular parish. Wherever I go, it’s all about Christ. And the Eucharist always reminds us that it’s all about being centered on Christ.”

‘Rooted in gratitude’

Letting the Eucharist focus our hearts on Christ alone can lead people to a greater sense of gratitude, said Archbishop Thompson, of giving thanks, which is what the Eucharist is all about.

“When we’re rooted in gratitude, our lives are richer,” he said. “We have a more positive outlook on every aspect of our lives. Even in difficult and challenging times, that eucharistic centeredness of gratitude can be a great gift and blessing to us, and through us to the lives of other people.

“Like right now, with so much violence, inflation and all the chaos and injustice that goes on in our world. We need that eucharistic-centered grace and strength of Christ.”

In his broad hopes for the eucharistic revival, Archbishop Thompson doesn’t lose sight of how it can lead to the conversion of individual hearts, including his own.

“We all have room to grow and deepen our relationship with God and one another in and through Christ,” he said. “I hope it does that for everybody. I hope it does that for me.

“I know I can better appreciate the gift of the Eucharist in my life and areas in my own life where I need healing, growth and conversion. God’s grace alone will provide. I can’t do that on my own. And the world can’t provide that. It comes from the grace of God alone. And the Mass, as we say, is the source and summit of all of that.”

With the hope that more Catholics will grow in thankfulness through the revival, Archbishop Thompson also hopes that the many ministries of the Church in central and southern Indiana that are already rooted in the Eucharist will only grow deeper.

“This revival can deepen our appreciation and awareness of the Eucharist and enrich those ministries and services,” he said. “They can be ignited by the fire of the faith and hope of God’s grace and presence in the Eucharist. It nourishes and sustains us as Catholics to go out as beacons of hope, as ministers of healing, as instruments of peace and joy to the rest of the world.”

‘Heightening the richness’

Archbishop Thompson looks forward to himself and Catholics across the archdiocese beginning this journey of eucharistic conversion on June 19.

He expressed appreciation for the work of organizers across central and southern Indiana.

“I like the approach that they have taken,” he said. “We’re providing liturgies and trying to heighten all of the ethnic communities within the community. We have a great fabric of ethnicities in our archdiocese—Latinos, Vietnamese, Koreans, the Burmese, different countries of Africa, Indians. All of these different groups.

“Heightening the richness of those different ethnicities, cultures, languages and customs—that’s part of the beauty of the Church.”

He also noted that, with two Masses, a service project, a eucharistic procession and a holy hour ending with Benediction, there are many ways that archdiocesan Catholics can “tap into” the start of the eucharistic revival.

Archbishop Thompson is looking forward to having children who have recently received their first Communion joining him in the eucharistic procession.

He said they can be an example to many older Catholics who have had the Eucharist nourish their faith over the years, through many ups and downs and into eternal life itself.

“These first Communicants are just beginning that journey,” Archbishop Thompson said. “They’re beginning to have that sustenance as they grow. Hopefully, they will deepen their love and appreciation for this gift.

“Sometimes as we go through life, we can get caught up in the busyness of life. We can be reminded by looking through their eyes and seeing their faces how exciting and joyful the Eucharist can be.”

At the start of the third year of the eucharistic revival, in July 2024, the archdiocese will host the first National Eucharistic Congress in nearly 50 years in Indianapolis.

Tens of thousands of Catholics from across the country are expected to attend.

Archbishop Thompson said that the next two years will be a time when Catholics across central and southern Indiana can prepare spiritually for this historic event.

“If we’ve celebrated well as an archdiocese and in our parishes, it’d be natural it should bring us together in something even bigger,” he said. “We’ll pray and focus on this all along in the archdiocese and in our parishes to have a greater understanding and appreciation of who we are as a Church nationally and universally.

“It’s a great honor for the archdiocese and the city of Indianapolis to be chosen.”

Archbishop Thompson noted that great speakers from around the world will come to the Congress for audiences of many ages.

“Regardless of who will be here or not be here, it’s all about Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Thompson said. “It’s about his presence among us in his body, blood, soul and divinity that enables us to continue his mission of bringing about the kingdom of God according to the will of the Father by the grace and fruits of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world.”

(For more information about the National Eucharistic Revival in the archdiocese and the opening events on June 19, visit eucharisticrevivalindy.org. To watch Archbishop Thompson’s video invitation, go to: youtu.be/vf9jnH3oS74.)

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