When the Eucharistic Revival committee first convened in January, they knew their work needed to focus on “who we are and what we see this meaning” for the faithful of the Diocese of Sacramento, says committee co-chair, Valerie Ramos. The significance of the revival could not be understated.
“Our theme is ‘Real Presence, Real Life’,” Valerie says, pinpointing how intense conversations led to these words which focus on “Jesus truly present in the Eucharist, body, blood, soul and divinity,” and its effects in daily living. She stresses how Jesus’ real presence must influence real life and this belief must produce “eucharistic people,” who “live it in every area” of their lives.
Valerie, a member of Good Shepherd Parish in Elk Grove, co-chairs the committee with Father Michael O’Reilly, rector of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and parochial administrator of St. Elizabeth Parish in downtown Sacramento. Together, they lead a group of 15 laity, religious and clergy who meet monthly with their “mosaic of perspectives,” Valerie says, pleased with the various vantage points. The committee formed with attention to appropriate representation, “making sure we have a good number of women and religious and people in different racial and cultural backgrounds,” she explains.
The local launch of the Eucharistic Revival occurred fittingly on the feast of Corpus Christi, June 19, which providentially also fell on Juneteenth and Father’s Day. The committee worked diligently to plan a Gospel Mass in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament featuring the Voices of Praise Gospel Choir and a Corpus Christi procession which followed the Mass.
“These three things all happening on the same day was really special,” Valerie says, describing a feeling that “the Holy Spirit allowed this” triple blessing with distinctive messages.
Referring to Juneteenth, Valerie expresses an overlay of additional meaning that “the full body of Christ” is to be considered in exacting ways throughout the Eucharistic Revival. The occasion of Father’s Day also produced an overt reminder that “God is our father,” Valerie says, subtly inferring obedience to God’s will for the revival and certain the three coinciding observances represented divine design.
Stimulating conversations among committee members have echoed the concern voiced by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on alarming 2019 research from the Pew Center which suggests nearly 70 percent of Catholics either do not believe or do not understand the doctrine of the Real Presence in the Eucharist. This reality – this impetus for the nationwide Eucharistic Revival – compels the committee to scrutinize the issue.
“Why, or how is it, or what really is the problem?” Valerie queries, disconcerted over the breakdown of this primary Catholic belief. She remains confident, however, in the power of dialogue and insists “if we can figure out why, then we can figure out what.” Only through talking and listening can the ‘why’ be known, understood and addressed, she suggests.
The committee also prepared three subthemes in support of the banner theme offering guidance and enlightenment for parishes and individuals growing as eucharistic people: (1) An encounter with Christ, (2) the sacrament of charity, and (3) a welcoming church.
Packed with meaning, the subthemes move minds beyond conjecture and prompt consideration of what it means to live and bear authentic witness to Christ. Knowing Christ personally, loving as Christ loves, and extending welcoming arms prescribe the necessary means to affect meaningful eucharistic transformation.
“Is it just a matter of catechesis?” Valerie asks, wondering how to bridge the chasms of unknowing or disbelief. Valerie thinks “there is something more” and people “are not seeing the fruit … not seeing people live it out meaningfully.”
“This is the beginning of a new stage in the life of the Church,” Valerie notes, well aware that it comes amid difficult times, citing pandemic, war, violence and a menu of other societal tensions.
“This is God’s timing to bring us the medicine and – this is my own take -- but it’s going to come in surprising ways,” Valerie asserts, adding “it’s not business as usual.”
The committee serves as a resource throughout the diocesan phase of the Eucharistic Revival and pushes out USCCB and diocesan materials to parishes that are ramping up for the grassroots phase commencing June 2023. Until then, diocesan events and calendared activities continue to embrace the Real Presence, Real Life revival theme with pervading intention to set a meaningful and thought-provoking tone.
Reflecting on the revival’s anticipated outcome, Valerie shares, “I hope it does have an impact for our diocese.” Humbled and honored to serve as co-chair, she admits, “It’s an honor but it’s also kind of daunting,” with consideration for the importance of the objectives and the future of the Church. As coordinator of diversity, equity and inclusion at St. Francis Catholic High School and co-lead for Good Shepherd’s Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults ministry, Valerie affirms, “I do feel a lot of comfort and confidence working with Father Michael O’Reilly and so many great people on this committee."
In photo above, Bishop Jaime Soto leads a traditional Corpus Christi procession in downtown Sacramento on June 19, 2022. Photo by Steve German.