Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Quebec Gets its Congress

Of course, this week's Big Event is the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City, which opened on Sunday.

Held in the cradle of Canadian Catholicism to mark the 400th anniversary of its settlement, the now four-yearly event has drawn in excess of 10,000 pilgrims to North America's oldest diocese for the week of liturgies, talks, performances and breakout opportunities ranging from quiet reflection to nearby mission work.

While this week's Congress is the fourth to take place in North America, following in the footsteps of the massive gatherings at Montreal in 1910, Chicago in 1924 and Philadelphia in 1976, it's the first the world can follow in real-time from the comfort of home; organizers have set up an extensive video site (including a livestream), with more coverage and live video from Toronto's Salt + Light TV. It's also the first IEC to "go green" -- pilgrims have been encouraged to plant four trees each on returning home to neutralize the event's carbon footprint.

While the week will see more liturgies, talks, a procession through the city's streets -- and a via satellite homily from the Pope during Sunday's closing Statio Orbis Mass -- the week got underway in earnest on Monday with a catechesis by Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington (fulltext/video) and a moving reflection from the native son Jean Vanier, founder of the L'Arche movement, long dedicated to care and closeness for the mentally disabled:

Archdiocese of Toronto