Guest column from Michael Iamele:
(Parishioner , The Saint Brigid Employment Network Ministry Coordinator, and volunteer for the Saint Brigid Parish Eucharistic Congress 2013 team)
The Time of Our Lives!
I’ll bet you didn’t know that on May 31st and June 1st I have plans. Yes… yes I do. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. “Why do I care what Michael Iamele is doing on a Friday night and all day on Saturday?” Fair question. Tell you what, let’s jump back to last year around this time and you’ll understand. …Cue dreamy sound effects now…
Picture a not so quiet drive from Saint Brigid with my girlfriend (now fiancée) after Mass. She began reading about the 2012 Eucharistic Congress and telling me about her Congress experiences over the past few years. You see, I’d never been to one and had no intention of going…
Lisa and I arrived at the Eucharistic Congress on Friday night in time for the opening Mass. It was cool to see a huge auditorium filled with Catholics of all different walks of life gathered in one place. I don’t know what the count was, but it was several hundred. Not your ordinary Friday Mass… scratch that… not your ordinary Mass period! All of the readings were in different languages with translations up on screens on either side of the altar. It reminded me that wherever I am in the world, the Mass doesn’t change. Anyone can follow in any language at any time. We ran into some people we knew from Saint Brigid. Even though the Eucharistic Congress is held at the Georgia International Convention Center near the airport, our own parishioners make the trip on a Friday night to be there! Folks, that’s you (and me)! That’s Saint Brigid Catholic Church!
It gets better. Immediately after the opening Mass, we had a healing service. Ever been to one? The healing service was powerful! The priest walked in with Jesus in the monstrance and every person in the room immediately knelt before Him. He told us that while not everyone may be healed right away, to continue to pray because healing will come. The priest spoke powerfully about the healing power of Christ. There is no other way to describe it and I can’t put into words the way I felt. It was peace, joy, and faith that I had actually been healed in some way. This experience alone is reason enough for me to come back every year.
The following day we went to the opening ceremony which took place after the procession of every church in the Archdiocese. Saint Brigid had a strong showing. All of us sat together and made ourselves known when Archbishop Gregory named our own Russ Spencer as the Master of Ceremonies. When he named our own Al Nordone as a speaker, we cheered louder, which made Archbishop Gregory exclaim “It looks like Saint Brigid is here!”
After the ceremony concluded we walked around the Eucharistic Congress and I was amazed at all of the Catholics… clergy, religious, and lay who came together for this one event. Thousands united in one common belief in the power of Jesus through our Roman Catholic Christianity. All of us were the same and all of us were different. There was something for everyone. There are many different speakers and performing artists to attract one from all interests and nationalities, young and old.
I was interested in the Midway which was where different Catholic vendors sold their spiritual wares in one place. The monks from Holy Spirit Monastery were there selling coffee, honey, and other food items. The coffee was excellent; I’ll be buying more this year. There were the quality shirts, DVDs, books, jewelry, and even statues for purchase. And get this: Reconciliation is going on in most languages all day! Who doesn’t want a little forgiveness in their own language (or a lot, in my case)?
All of this led up to the final Mass, which we regrettably missed. I hear it’s the penultimate end to a beautiful gathering of Catholics. You can be sure we won’t be missing it this year! …Cue dreamy sound effects again…
It doesn’t matter to me that life is throwing tons of things in my way. The noise from my connected iPhone life and the demands of my time will be turned off. For me, the world can continue to spin on while I’m growing my faith in God; being forgiven by Jesus, and feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit continually for a day and a half.
What about you? Do you want to spend time being inspired? Wouldn’t you like a little extra strength to keep moving forward? Maybe you are searching for a way to change your life. Let’s show the rest of the Archdiocese how big Saint Brigid Catholic Church really is! Meet me at the Eucharistic Congress on May 31st and June 1st for the time of our lives!