‘The Eucharist: Nourished by Christ to Nourish Others’ - the theme of the National Eucharistic Congress - reminds us that we are called to become what we have consumed – the Bread of Life – Christ. Being empowered by the Eucharist we in turn break ourselves, just like Christ did, to nourish the marginalized and less fortunate.
His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, represents Hily Father Pope Francis at this Eucharistic Congress.
The celebration of the Eucharist was preceded by a solemn procession of the delegates in their regional dress, carrying their diocesan flags. This procession included bishops and priests from the different dioceses in India and the four Indian Cardinals. The faithful watched in awe at the magnificence and there was palpable anticipation for the Inaugural Eucharist that followed. His Eminence, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, welcomed the Papal Legate, His Eminence, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, with warmth and gratitude for his presence. His Eminence, Baselios Cardinal Cleemis declared the National Eucharistic Congress open.
After the lighting of the Samai by the Papal Legate, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, Baselios Cardinal Cleemis, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, H.G. Geevarghese Mar Coorilos, Telesphore Cardinal Toppo, the official anthem of the National Eucharistic Congress was sung by Dominique Cerejo. This was followed by the release of the NEC Special Cover and its cancellation by Mr. Hameed Patel, Senior Superintendent of Posts, Mumbai, South.
His Eminence, Cardinal Ranjith stated that it was with profound respect and pleasure that he joined in the celebration of the National Eucharistic Congress in commemoration of the 38th International Eucharistic Congress held in Mumbai in 1964. With strong spiritual ties between India and Sri Lanka going back to the 17th and 18th Century, he proudly calls himself a ‘son of the soil’ of Mother India. Taking inspiration from Pope Francis’ catechesis, Cardinal Ranjith spoke about the fraternity of Catholics, saying that even though we are people of different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, we are brothers and sisters in faith. Through the celebration of the Eucharist, we live and love as one Church. On this foundation, the National Eucharistic Congress will succeed. It is because Jesus broke His body and shared His blood at the last supper that His crucifixion is more than just an incident in the past. Jesus did this in order to bring us closer to Him through the Eucharist. Today, in remembrance of Him, we walk in love on the path on which saints like Euphrasia and Joseph Vaz journeyed before us. Inspired by their example and inflamed by the power of God through the Eucharist, we live a reality of self-sacrificing love.
The Keynote Address was delivered by His Eminence Telesphore Cardinal Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, on the theme: ‘The Eucharist: Nourished by Christ to Nourish Others’. He expressed joy in being a part of the commemoration of the 38th International Eucharistic Congress held in 1964. In his address he talked about the Eucharist being at the heart of our faith, calling it our spiritual anchor. The Eucharist is the core of Christian initiation together with Baptism and Confirmation. From this Sacrament flows the authentic expression of love from Father to children. His Eminence elaborated on the significance of the Eucharist. He hoped that we, through the communion of the Eucharist, continue in communion with one another. Through his talk, Cardinal Toppo encouraged us, who are nourished by the spiritual strength of the Eucharist, to become bridges in a world fragmented in many ways, bringing unity to our families, communities and country. In discovering the power of the Eucharist, we cannot neglect Mary, the heavenly Tabernacle of our Lord. He ended with a note on service; being the Bread like Christ, and breaking ourselves in sacrificial love for one another.