The Mission of the Eucharistic Preachers: Rekindle the Flame

As we approach Pentecost Sunday and the kick-off to the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, Eucharistic preachers are leading the way.

Father Roger Landry holds a photo of Blessed Carlo Acutis during a presentation on the National Eucharistic Revival to students of St. Michael’s School in Fall River, Massachusetts, on March 13. He traveled with the first-class relics of Blessed Carlo and St. Manuel González García, co-patrons of the Revival.
Father Roger Landry holds a photo of Blessed Carlo Acutis during a presentation on the National Eucharistic Revival to students of St. Michael’s School in Fall River, Massachusetts, on March 13. He traveled with the first-class relics of Blessed Carlo and St. Manuel González García, co-patrons of the Revival. (photo: Shanna Lubold / St. Michael’s Parish, Fall River)

The political demonstrations that are currently convulsing some college campuses have provided a powerful teaching moment for one of the 56 priests who have been commissioned to serve as “Eucharistic Preachers” during the ongoing U.S. Eucharistic Revival.

Father Roger Landry, Columbia’s Catholic chaplain, encouraged students to meet the recent anti-Israel encampment on the campus with prayer, charity and adoration of the Eucharist.

“I’ve challenged the students … that in response to those who are encamping for a political cause ... we encamp in all-night adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, asking the Prince of Peace to give us his peace so that we can offer each other the sign of peace,” Father Landry told host Dr. Grazie Christie on EWTN’s radio show and podcast Conversations With Consequences airing April 27.

Adoration is an apt response to all we encounter, no matter the circumstance, as we live our faith.

“We are disciples of the Prince of Peace, who, by his passion, death and resurrection brought reconciliation to the world. And unless we're living that as Catholics, we’re not really living the Catholic life,” said the priest, who enjoys speaking about the Real Presence.

In the two years that Father Landry has been a Eucharistic Preacher for the Eucharistic Revival, he’s told Catholics in the Eastern United States about his own realization as a college freshman that God was truly in the Eucharist and how that led him to ask himself why he couldn’t receive the Lord every day at Mass. 

“That’s a question that I echo for people, and sometimes the light bulb does go off,” he said, including for many at Columbia University in New York, where the priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, currently serves. 

Father Landry’s follow-up question to audiences at some of his roughly 50 Revival speaking engagements is: “If it’s truly Jesus, when we adore in Eucharistic adoration, rather than ‘a thing,’ should I prioritize time with Jesus?” 

He and the other 55 Eucharistic Preachers selected by U.S. bishops to be, he said, “the lighter fluid for the fire of Eucharistic Revival,” have each in their own way helped many Catholics learn more about the Eucharist and reawaken their devotion. 

Describing the work of speaking at parishes, retreats, Eucharistic congresses and other events as “energizing, catalyzing,” though sometimes “grueling,” Eucharistic Preachers interviewed for this article said they’ve encountered great enthusiasm and devotion in their audiences.

“There are so many people who love Jesus, who love the Eucharist in this country, and I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” said Franciscan Friar of the Renewal Father Agustino Torres, a New Jersey-based Eucharistic Preacher who has given talks around the country. 

As the Revival’s culmination approaches with the first national Eucharistic congress in 83 years in Indianapolis July 17-21, the preachers talked about how they’ve shared its goals of reawakening and deepening Catholics’ Eucharistic appreciation connection with the Lord.

The U.S. Church’s crisis of Eucharistic faith is rooted in an overall crisis of faith, Father Landry said. More Catholics the preachers have encountered are reawakening their faith, they said, rather than having a first encounter. 

As they’ve spoken to the laity about the Eucharist and given priests insights on how to speak about the Real Presence to their congregations, the preachers have worked to refocus on the mystery, along with providing catechesis and offering greater understanding of the Mass and the sacrament of reconciliation. Some are also invoking the Holy Spirit’s assistance, helping with practical applications of Eucharistic teaching and encouraging evangelization. 


The Preachers’ Mission

When the preachers gathered with bishops and other Revival leaders at a retreat in Chicago two years ago, the 56 preachers with different roles, gifts and charisms were not told how to preach but received instruction on the Eucharistic Revival’s “Five Pillars,” said Marilyn Santos, associate director of the Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose office oversees the Eucharistic Preachers. 

Religious priests were not bound to a diocese or region, though all preachers, whether diocesan or religious, have had the freedom to speak outside their region, Santos said. The preachers are prepared to reach out to American Catholics of different national and cultural backgrounds, she said, noting that many are either native Spanish speakers or are proficient Spanish speakers. 

Having freedom in their preaching has been one of the Revival’s blessings, said Father Torres, who has spoken at Eucharistic Congresses and other events around the country. He’s also involved in other media outreach, including through the Eternal Word Television Network; he has founded several ministries and gives English and Spanish talks to youth and young adults. 

“It’s just been Jesus that we’re talking about, and I love it. When you talk to people about Jesus, they open their hearts to you, and how beautiful it is to be there.”

Father Agustino Torres,
‘It’s just been Jesus that we’re talking about, and I love it,’ says Father Agustino Torres, who enjoys preaching to the faithful.(Photo: Scott Warden)Scott Warden

And, at the 2022 Eucharistic Congress in Los Angeles, Father Torres recalled mothers bringing their deep heartbreak to him as Christ’s representative: “There was a mother who asked me to pray for her daughter who had struggled with addiction. At the time, she was missing, and she didn’t know where she was. Another mother was asking for prayers for her son, who was struggling with depression and wasn’t able to leave the house. There was another family who asked for healing. They all came up together for prayer. I could tell they had some suffering happening. I just prayed over them all.”

Eucharistic Preacher Father Mathias Thelen has given talks mostly in his home state of Michigan, but also in Georgia and Kansas. The priest, who is pastor of St. Patrick in Brighton in the Diocese of Lansing, has led a parish mission and other events.

Father Thelen said he sees the Revival as an opportunity to re-center on the mystery of the Eucharist, both in helping people encounter Jesus and understand Eucharistic teachings. He’s spoken on the Eucharistic Sacrifice, Presence and Communion and what it looks like to live out the mystery. 

“Revival can’t happen until we encounter him in faith, not just his presence, but deep surrender and trust,” he said. 

Father Mathias Thelen
Father Mathias Thelen preaches at a Eucharistic Revival event at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church in Grovetown, Georgia, in the Diocese of Savannah, on Aug. 26, 2023.(Photo: Gerry Martins photo)

As a high-school student, Father Thelen encountered Christ in the Eucharist and the Holy Spirit during a Steubenville youth conference. He is co-founder and instructor at the Brighton, Michigan-based Encounter Ministries, which seeks to unleash the power of the Holy Spirit to transform people’s hearts and minds to follow Christ more closely. 

As Father Thelen said, “Anything and everything to do with the Holy Spirit is all about coming to know Jesus.”

The Holy Spirit reveals Christ in the Eucharist to us and works to reproduce his life in us and us in him, said Father Thelen, who seeks to draw people to deeper faith in Jesus by the Holy Spirit’s prompting through the revelation of God, prayer and other spiritual experiences. He added that “the Holy Spirit also leads us to bring the Gospel message to those outside the Church.”


Confession and Communion

Challenges to passing on the faith caused by the culture, as well as Jesus’ teachings about the Eucharist in Scripture, catechism teachings and practical points for living Eucharistic devotion, including making Sunday holy, are all aspects of Father Torres’ talks.

“There’s a whole swath of people who [made] their first Communion; and, unfortunately … it seems like that was the last time they got a catechesis of the Eucharist,” Father Torres said. 

Because of its intrinsic connection to the Eucharist and a means to receive Christ worthily, Father Landry also preaches on the sacrament of reconciliation. 

“It is an opportunity for people to ask for God’s forgiveness for any ways that they may have taken the Lord’s Eucharistic presence for granted, as well as [have been] strengthened by the Lord’s mercy to unite themselves ever more to his Body and Blood, given for us for the remission of our sins,” he said, adding that the Lord wants us “to receive his own health, his own presence, his own forgiveness.”

It’s not possible to make a worthy reception of Holy Communion without a good confession, agreed another Eucharistic Preacher, Father Jonathan Meyer, pastor in solidum (a model of shared pastoral care) at All Saints in Guilford, Indiana.

“I think good talks on the Eucharist should always somehow incorporate our worthy reception of Jesus and Holy Communion,” he said. 

The sacrament of reconciliation is part of Father Meyer’s preaching at retreats and other talks he’s given, mostly in the Indianapolis Archdiocese. But his focus has been mostly on transforming understanding of the Mass, including in a talk he gave at a men’s conference in West Palm Beach, Florida, which has received more than 700,000 YouTube views and was the subject of a recent story for the Register

“The Mass being the re-presentation of Calvary is something that most people don’t understand,” Father Meyer said, adding that “understanding has been transformative for many.”

Father Meyer has received more than 1,700 comments from the video, including this one from the handle @joycemercer8626:

“This struck so deep into my spirit, to a total eye-opening depth to the Eucharist. I will never participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass again the same. Every Catholic person should listen to this; [e]very parish make it required listening. Beautiful. Truly a Eucharistic Revival moment.” 


Humbling Experience

Seeking his own deeper understanding and better ways to communicate those truths about the Mass and then express them as he celebrates Mass have been humbling, he said. 

Sharing these truths with other priests has also been powerful, “to have priests reflect upon that, pray about that, and then, God willing, go back and be better priests and better preachers,” Father Meyer said.

Father Landry has also preached about the Eucharist to other priests. “The Eucharistic Revival in these priests’ lives has been a chance to remember their first love, the love of their first Holy Communion, the love of the day of their ordination, whereas it might have been attenuated over the past years, so it’s been great to see that.”

To help ensure Revival zeal isn’t lost after the Congress, the preachers will continue their mission through 2025, Santos said. 

“Our goal there is for everybody to go back to the parishes equipped, both spiritually and practically, on how to continue being Eucharistic missionaries, missionary disciples,” she said. 

Father Landry Revival
Father Roger Landry holds a reliquary with the bones of St. Manuel González García during his March 13 presentation on the Revival to students of St. Michael’s School in Fall River, Massachusetts.(Photo: Shanna Lubold, St. Michael’s Parish, Fall River)

Before Father Landry resumes his preaching after the Eucharistic Congress, he plans to take part in the entire St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Route of the Eucharistic Pilgrimage, starting from New Haven, Connecticut, on May 17, and arriving in Indianapolis the day before the Eucharistic Congress begins — a total of 65 days of walking. At the congress, Father Landry will help coordinate priests serving as confessors. 

Father Meyer’s role at the congress will include coordinating the July 20 outside procession through downtown Indianapolis, while one of Father Thelen’s responsibilities will be leading a break-out session about responding to Our Lord in the Eucharist.

“There’s a certain mystery of grace,” he said, “so we can’t force an encounter; we can’t manufacture it. It’s not like you put in X, and you’ll get Y. It’s not a mathematical formula or a function. It’s really a Heart meeting heart, Heart speaking to heart.”