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Mass, Holy Hour Highlight Eucharistic Congress

Mass, Holy Hour Pinnacle of Bicentennial Eucharistic Congress

By Brian Olszewski, editor, The Catholic Virginian | November 7, 2020

While much of the Diocese of Richmond’s first Eucharistic Congress was virtual, the Mass and the Holy Hour on Saturday morning, Nov. 7, were live.

The Mass at St. Peter’s Church, Richmond, was concelebrated by Bishop Barry C. Knestout, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States; Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Cardinal-designate Willton D. Gregory of Washingon; Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, and several other bishops.

Bishop Barry C. Knestout was the principal celebrant at the diocese’s Eucharistic Congress Mass at St. Peter Pro-Cathedral, Richmond, Saturday, Nov 7. Concelebrating, from left, are Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States; Cardinal-designate Wilton D. Gregory, archbishop of Washington; Bishop Knestout; Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore; and Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington. (Photo/Michael Mickle)

During his homily, reflecting on Mark 16:15-20, Bishop Knestout said that the people of the diocese have been carrying out the great mission on which Jesus sent the apostles.

“The people of the Diocese of Richmond have done this for 200 years — taught the faith, brought unity to broken world, ministered to the weak, vulnerable and sick, and have gathered to carry out the faith, hope and charity to which we are called.”

The bishop emphasized that the Eucharist is a “blessing” and a “gift from God.”

“We are nourished in the presence and glory of God,” he said. “By our reception of the Eucharist and by our and adoration of the Lord present in his Body and Blood, we taste the first fruits of heaven.”

Eighty people were in attendance at each liturgy of the Diocese of Richmond’s first Eucharistic Congress on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. (Photo/Michael Mickle)

Bishop Knestout expressed gratitude for what the diocese has accomplished in its history.

“We are deeply, profoundly grateful as we celebrate 200 years of faith and charity in the Commonwealth of Virginia, that in communion with God and with one another and in fulfilling the Church’s mission, we have assisted in the work of the Church to transform our culture and commonwealth to image more beautifully, more fully, the Gospel and the love of Christ,” he said.

Near the end of Mass, Bishop Knestout read the decree he signed on Oct. 28 noting the historical significance of St. Peter’s Church as the diocese’s first cathedral, dedicated in 1834, would now be known as a pro-cathedral.

Later that morning, a Holy Hour was held at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. In his homily, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington delivered the homily prior to a eucharistic procession on Cathedral Place.

“We also acknowledge that the celebration occurs at a time when our nation is experiencing so much turmoil and unrest and witnessing many evils and injustices. Now, more than ever, it is Jesus we must bring into our streets and communities in the sure and certain hope that he will heal, renew and unite us,” he said. “That is what we will actually do today: carry Jesus in a eucharistic procession on our streets and into a world desperately in need of his presence and saving work.”

Bishop Knestout led a eucharistic procession on Cathedral Place in downtown Richmond during the Holy Hour, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. (Photo/Michael Mickle)

Bishop Burbidge said the procession was a reminder how the faithful should live.

“Today, all in the Diocese of Richmond, allow Jesus to carry you as you embark on a bright and promising future,” he said. “Entrust your cares, burdens and crosses to the Lord in the firm belief that he sustains, nourishes and carries us here on earth so that we, who are united to him, may reach the final destination for which we all long: life with him in heaven.”