One of the most prominent Catholic leaders in America is encouraging local faithful to experience a true encounter with Christ through His Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre is the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. In simple terms, the Nuncio is the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States and the point of contact between the Holy Father and Catholic leaders here in America.
Archbishop Pierre visited Saint Francis University in Loretto on October 7 as part of the university’s 175th anniversary celebration.
The nuncio presided at a special Mass at Immaculate Conception Chapel on campus, with Bishop Mark among the concelebrants.
During his brief visit to the diocese, Archbishop Pierre graciously sat down with Tony DeGol, Diocesan Director of Communications, for an exclusive conversation about various topics relevant to the Catholic Church, including the Eucharistic Revival underway in the United States – a three-year journey, led by the Bishops of America, aimed at renewing the Church by bringing the faithful closer to Christ through his True Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist.
The following is a portion of the conversation.
DeGOL: Your Excellency, welcome to the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown and thank you for joining me today. As the Catholic Church in America observes a Eucharistic Revival, please share your personal devotion to the Holy Eucharist.
ARCHBISHOP PIERRE: “The Eucharist has always been part of my life, and it comes from my family. My parents used to go to Mass every day, and we followed our parents. I think we were deeply marked by this kind of devotion. I received the faith from the witness of my parents, but also from the Church. The Eucharist was part of it, like the other sacraments.”
DeGOL: What is your advice to local Catholics to make the most of this three-year opportunity to re-engage with the True Presence of Jesus through the Eucharist?
ARCHBISHOP PIERRE: “It is certainly a very important moment for the Church in this country, and I would advise people to encounter Christ, and the Eucharist is the sacrament of this encounter, and realize the encounter is a gift from Christ himself as the Son of God who comes to enlighten our life and gives us strength to live our life as a consequence of this venture with Him, and the Eucharist is part of it. We live in a secularized society, especially the young people today do not receive the gift of faith from the environment of a living Church, not even at times from their families, so they need – as we have benefited and I have benefited – to have the opportunity to have an encounter with a real Church, through the witness of those who believe. So the Eucharistic Renewal is not just to invite people to Adoration – sure they should participate, and I’m sure these moments will bear fruit – but it’s also an invitation for the Church to renew itself as a living presence of God in daily life. Certainly what we need is witnesses that God is present in our life.
DeGOL: You talk about Catholics having an “encounter with Christ,” and certainly the Catholic Church gives people that opportunity through the Eucharist. What else can the Church do to give people that encounter beyond the Eucharist?
ARCHBISHOP PIERRE: “I met Christ through the witness of persons, and the Eucharist and other sacraments were part of it. In the past, the culture was very linked to the faith, so we got it through the witness of many people, but also through the life of the Church. So, in some ways today, in this secularized world, where at times life and faith are separated, we really need to recreate the Church world, and this is what Pope Francis tells us, to go out of ourselves, to go out of our zone of comfort in order to become a witness that Jesus is a light in our life. The Eucharist should never be detached from daily life. We need to reinforce these aspects and to create communities. A Christian cannot survive without a community of believers. That’s very important. Today, there is a tendency toward individualism and isolation, and the young people especially don’t get it because they don’t know where to go and with whom and how they can discover that Jesus is alive.
DeGOL: In just a few weeks, the Church will observe National Vocations Awareness Week. Here in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, we have an aging priest population and fewer priests than we had 10, 20, and 30 years ago. What is your message to young people to be open to the Lord’s call to be open to a vocation to the priesthood or religious life?
ARCHBISHOP PIERRE: “My message is first of all for the Church as a whole, because the vocations will come as a fruit of real community life. My observation in this country is ‘where do we get vocations today?’ You get vocations from community life. I see it here today. The brothers here are teaching at schools and at university. So there is a kind of witness, they attract. The vocations come from attraction. There is also power in the movements of the Church. You have a lot of charismatic movements, and we must help these movements because these are the places where vocations come. That’s the logic of the incarnation of Jesus. Jesus is incarnated into the Church and the Church is the place from where vocations will come. So, of course, I would say to the young people to be open to the calling of the Lord, but if we in the Church don’t go to the young people, they will not come.”