by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Phil and Nikki Frerker are making big plans this summer to go someplace different.
No, they’re not planning a thrilling vacation.
They’re going to Mass — over, and over, and over again.
“My husband said, ‘Hey, let’s go visit some different parishes around the Kansas City area,” said Nikki.
“This summer, we’re going to be intentional,” she said. “My husband has made a list of parishes that have something special about them, like St. John the Baptist in Kansas City, Kansas, which was founded by Croatians.”
The Frerkers love their home parish Curé of Ars in Leawood, but they want to give themselves and their children experiences of how the Mass is celebrated at various parishes.
This is one of the personal ways they plan to participate in a three-year nationwide initiative launched by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The initiative will promote understanding of and belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist — eucharistic amazement.
Nikki is on the archdiocesan committee promoting the USCCB initiative.
In the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, this effort is called Revival: Eucharistic Amazement. It begins on the solemnity of Corpus Christi, June 19.
The U.S. bishops were shocked when a 2019 Pew Research study found that approximately 70% of Catholics do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist (although some argue that the way the questions were phrased could have been confusing). Similar findings were produced in a study by the Center for the Applied Research for the Apostolate (CARA).
“The bishops are concerned about the decline of Mass attendance in the United States as well as some studies that indicate that many Catholics do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann. “Our hope is to help some Catholics discover, and many more recover, a great awe and love for the Eucharist.”
After the launch on June 19, the initiative will move through four phases, said Deacon Dana Nearmyer, archdiocesan director of evangelization. They are:
• the Diocesan Year of Eucharistic Revival, June 2022 to June 2023
• the Parish Year of Eucharistic Revival, June 2023 to July 2024
• the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis, July 17-21, 2024
• the Year of Going Out on Mission, July 2024 to Pentecost 2025
“This Corpus Christi starts not only the Diocesan Year [of Eucharistic Revival], but it launches a year of preparation for parishes to figure out what they want to do in response to this revival,” said Deacon Nearmyer, who leads the archdiocesan Eucharistic Amazement task force and advisory board.
“One of the genius [aspects] of this movement is that it is not for parishes only. It’s for parishes, apostolic movements, religious orders and for all Catholics of good will,” he said. “Bishop Andrew Cozzens (chairman of the U.S. bishops’ committee on evangelization and catechesis) asked the Knights of Columbus to be lead advocates for this [revival].”
Revival: Eucharistic Amazement will have three “areas of concentration” for the archdiocese as a whole and individual parishes. They are:
• The Lay Faithful: Provide Eucharistic Formation
• Clergy and Liturgical Ministers: Enhancing Eucharistic Zeal
• Offer Transformative Eucharistic Experiences
Information about archdiocesan-based podcasts, presentations, study days, conferences, workshops, formation opportunities and other offerings during this Diocesan Year of Eucharistic Revival can be found on the website at: archkck.org/revival.
Since Catholics celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday and virtually every weekday, the first thing that can be done is for every priest, deacon and layperson to be aware of what we do when we gather at the table of the Lord, said Michael Podrebarac, archdiocesan consultant for liturgy and sacramental life.
“That awareness under the leadership of pastors may incorporate hosting a formational session or one of the archdiocesan workshops for musicians and liturgical ministers that I’m going to start rolling out next month,” said Podrebarac. “Participation in one of the devotionals — such as eucharistic Holy Hours, eucharistic adoration, eucharistic processions — are things the archdiocese needs to kindle and rekindle.”
Thus formed, the most important work begins, he said, and that is making sure that all our parishioners are centered around the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of the life and mission of the church.
Revival: Eucharistic Amazement is for all Catholics, said Archbishop Naumann.
“Like with any friendship, we must continue to nourish and grow the relationship,” he said. “Friendships that are static are actually dying. The Eucharistic Revival is an opportunity to deepen our life for Jesus uniquely present in the most Blessed Sacrament.
“Do they consider the Sunday Eucharist the most important event in their week? How can anything be more important than receiving Jesus in the Eucharist? We all can deepen our experience of God’s love revealed in the Eucharist.”