Large Crowd Attends the 4th African National Eucharistic Congress in Washington, DC, with 14 Bishops and 100 Concelebrating Priests

On July 22 hundreds celebrated the fourth African National Eucharistic Congress  in Washington, DC.
The Unity Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, was celebrated by Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory. 
Cardinal Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, was principal celebrant of the Mass that was offered as part of the July 21-23 African National Eucharistic Congress held on the campus of The Catholic University of America.
Nearly 14 bishops and more than 100 priests concelebrated the two-hour Mass, which was attended by about 1,000 people, with many wearing traditional African clothing. The liturgy contained songs and prayers in several languages, including Swahili, Zulu, Igbo, Latin, French, Congolese and Arabic.

“You have come … to honor the Eucharistic Lord, which in turn will help you learn how to advocate for those people living on the margins of society more effectively, collaboratively and perhaps even more courageously,” Cardinal Gregory said in his homily. “The presence of Christ in the Eucharist today must also include a care and a concern for the natural world that we inhabit.”
The cardinal told the faithful: “This city and archdiocese have a rich legacy of welcoming people from throughout the world, and an important history of social justice as the civil rights movement of the last generation often turned to Washington as the locus of important national decisions.”
“No one who truly listens to the parables of Jesus and then shares in that banquet of life, which is the Eucharist, can fail to take to heart the mission of justice that flows from God’s Word and the sacrificial meal that we share,” he said.
“The nations of the great lands of Africa hold vast natural riches which must be preserved,” Cardinal Gregory said. 
He called the African National Eucharistic Congress “an important link” to the National Eucharistic Revival, the three-year initiative of the U.S. bishops conference to renew understanding and worship of the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament. The revival also involves the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis.

Prior to the Mass, Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota — the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, responsible for the National Eucharistic Revival, led a Eucharistic procession. Congress participants carried flags, sang and prayed as they followed the Eucharist from a building on the university campus to the National Shrine.
“Invite people to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist,” the Bishop Cozzens said, “because when they encounter Jesus in the Eucharist, they will be healed, they will be formed, they will be unified.”
“The Eucharist is the place where we come with all our needs and burdens,” he said. “The Eucharist is Jesus’ self-emptying love poured out for you.”
About the Congress: “The African National Eucharistic Congress” (ANEC) is an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church/Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees, and Travelers (PCMRT) to give African Catholics in the United States an opportunity to gather together, to experience mutual support, renewal of their life, and sharing of their values and cultures. The first African National Eucharistic Congress was held in September 2-3, 2006 in Washington DC. The Eucharistic Congress aimed to promote an awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Catholic Church. It was also the gathering of all Catholics of African origin in the United States as one family, Clergy, Religious, laity and their friends to bear witness to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and it brought together people from all over the United States and beyond. The Congress included time for prayer-fellowship-education-interaction-collaboration-and networking-leadership for the emerging African young adult and youths. It was a memorable and successful celebration that brought African Catholics in the United States together for the first time, to share their faith and rich heritage. These past ANEC highlighted the gifts, contributions, challenges and evangelization opportunities of African families in the Catholic Church in the United States. The ANEC takes place every five years.