Anthony Gabriel from Singapore’s Legion of Mary shares his group’s experience of the event held in Dublin
‘I went to Dublin with 13 members of the Legion of Mary Singapore Senatus and seven non-members to attend the 50th International Eucharistic Congress and to visit the Legion of Mary headquarters.
We also took the opportunity to have a pilgrimage in Ireland: to the Marian Shrine of Knock, some places associated with St Patrick, and other religious places with a Dublin priest, Fr Michael Kane.
The congress was held in Dublin from June 10-17. We attended the congress from June 14-16 at the Royal Dublin Society and the closing Statio Orbis Mass on June 17 at Croke Park Stadium.
Each day was centred around the Mass celebrated by a cardinal or bishop and had a theme based on the main theme, The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with One Another.
The Mass was preceded by a catechesis, also given by a cardinal or bishop, and a testimony by a layperson.
Morning prayers, talks, concerts and exhibitions filled the rest of each day. There was also a pilgrim walk to six Dublin churches and St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, the cathedral of Dublin archdiocese, which we enthusiastically took part in.
The walk involved visiting the churches and getting a “passport” stamped. With the document, we received a pilgrim’s certificate at the Pro-Cathedral.
One testimony by Mr Richard Moore on June 14, on the theme of Reconciliation in Our Communion, was particularly moving for me.
Mr Moore was blinded at the age of 10 by a rubber bullet fired between his eyes by a British soldier in Derry, Northern Ireland. He managed to complete his schooling and graduated from university with the support of his family and community. He had also forgiven the soldier for the hurt inflicted on him and his family.
In 2006, he met the soldier and told him he held no hatred for him. Mr Moore also founded Children in Crossfire to assist children under eight who suffer from poverty.
Our group also welcomed the catechesis given by Archbishop Antonio Tagle of Manila on the theme Communion in the Word through Mary on June 16.
Bishop Tagle described “communion” as people’s relationships with one another, and condemned practices such as corruption, cheating, oppression and slavery. He said Mary is a model of Catholics’ communion with Christ and one another.
During the closing Mass, the Singapore group sat near legionaries from Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon and some Little Sisters of the Poor, one or two of whom had served in Singapore
The Palestinian and Jordanian legionaries were very excited when they realised we were legionaries too. They took pictures with us and with the Legion banner that we brought to the stadium.
During the Mass, the papal representative, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, encouraged us to share our faith, while Pope Benedict XVI, in a video message, reminded us to treasure the Eucharist.
It was a moving experience to see a such a huge gathering of people from around the world.
The theme for the closing Mass was Become What You Receive, something I will remember every time I receive Holy Communion."