International Eucharistic Congress marks 50 years
By Marcella Pederson
PRINCE ALBERT — Fourteen delegates from Saskatchewan attended the 50th Anniversary of the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Dublin, Ireland June 8 - 26. They enjoyed the opening mass celebrated by Cardinal Marc Ouellette, Papal Legate, speaking on the theme of the conference: the Eucharist — Communion with Christ and One Another.
Archbishop Albert Legatt of St. Boniface in his opening mass for Canadians spoke of the 20,000 people gathered from many corners of Ireland and many lands of the world to celebrate one Lord and one baptism, gathered by one faith. It was appropriate to celebrate the feast of St. Barnabas, the encourager. Legatt quoted a reflection of St. John Chrystendom and how the Holy Spirit used the dissension between Barnabas and Paul to spread the Good News even further as they went their separate ways. “We are called to journey together, to be with him and one another,” he stated.
In a workshop on Vatican II and Ecumenism, Bishop Brian Farrel looked back 50 years on how much has been done. He reflected on a childhood experience where a child couldn’t attend a classmate’s funeral because he was not Catholic. If we have a common baptism in Christ, then we are Christian brothers and sisters. John XXIII wanted leaders of all the churches to meet. Since then barriers have been broken down.
Methodist preacher, Dr. Richard Clutterbuck, in speaking of the past 50 years of where we come from and where we are going, compared it to climbing a mountain. Halfway there, you look up, the mountain seems steep and progress is slow; but turn around and you see how far we have come and how much has been accomplished. Christian reconciliation requires courage to come together.
In conclusion, the moderator summed up the workshop: the goal of the ecumenical movement was full visible union in Christ. How long will this take? In reflection, it is like a fellow asking when the Berlin Wall will come down. An old man responded, “Not In my lifetime, maybe in one or two generations.” It came down that very night! The summit is ahead of us, and the summit is Christ.
Alois Loser of the Taizé Community spoke of reform that will take place when we focus on our baptismal identity rather than denominational identity. Different gifts are experienced by eastern and western churches. Brother Roger, founder of the Taizé community, recognized Christ in all denominations.
Another theme focused on Reconciliation in our Communion. Richard Moore, founder of Crossfire, spoke of how in 1972, at age 10, while on his way home from school, he was blinded by a rubber bullet fired at point blank range into his face in Derry, Northern Ireland. Although his mother prayed for his eyesight to be restored, he did not get it back, but he got a lot more out of life. In 2006, he met and forgave the soldier who shot him. Moore stated that “Forgiveness is a gift to yourself.” He refused to be a victim of anger. He concluded his story, stating, “You can take away my eyesight, but you can’t take away my vision!”
In the Trafficking of Persons Broken Lives workshop, three sisters made the presentation. Sister Catherine Dunne, SSHM, stated trafficking is global, modern-day slavery. When the sisters became aware of it, they wondered what they could do. They decided to raise awareness through an organization, called APT — Act to Prevent Trafficking. She stated that, “We need to understand who and what we are talking about, This is not about illegals. This is people recruited, transported, and controlled against their will: be it for labour, human organs or sexual exploitation for profit." Their presentation focused on the latter.
Sister Mary Manganese, SHJM, began her presentation with Nadia’s story. When she saw a want ad, she thought anyone would apply. “Wanted: Women and girls with entrepreneurial spirit, all ages, willing to travel, flexible hours, all shifts available, written or verbal communication skills not required, opportunity for career growth, no references required, enquire within.”
Nadia thought to become a hairdresser in Europe, but did not have enough money to pay for travel and a passport. When she applied, they said it was OK, they would provide it and she could pay them back later. She was met at the airport by her minder who checked her name on her passport and took it for safe keeping. He also gave her a mobile phone. The job ended up being to provide sex 24/7 and, when she objected, she was beaten and raped. The minder warned her she was an illegal, had no passport and she owed 30,000 euros for her flight, food and lodging. He said her family would suffer if she didn’t comply and left her to think things over.
Each week she was moved to a different town. She thought the men would help her, but all they wanted was sex. They had paid. The mobile phone was for calls from clients or her minder. Effectively she was imprisoned by her fear and could see no rescue. Manganese concluded her part of the presentation by asking, “How does Nadia’s story challenge you? Would it be acceptable if it was your daughter, sister or mother?”
Sister Eilis Coe, SC, spoke of the eucharist, the Body of Christ and Scripture of St. Paul. We’re all members of the Body of Christ. If one is hurt, all share its pain. When these girls are released because of pregnancy, disease or police raids, they come to APT via hospitals and police. Sometimes people don’t believe their stories. They arrive in a country where they don’t speak the language, and don’t know where they are.
Following the presentation, many questions were asked: Is prostitution illegal in Europe? Are the police doing anything? What is drawing the demand? Are you speaking to men’s groups and schools? As for what is driving the demand, it is money, greed, sex, gender inequality, and lack of respect, more separations and divorces, pornography?
In the closing mass held in Croke Park stadium, 80,000 were in attendance. The weather in Ireland is unpredictable and changes frequently. On this day, people sometimes wore a coat, a rain cape for cloudy or rainy weather, and an umbrella for sunshine. It seemed the weather changed every five minutes to half hour. The crowd was entertained before the mass by soprano singer Brynne, three tenor priests, and choirs. The next International congress will be held in Cebu, Philippines, in four years time.