The National Eucharistic Congress in Liverpool left Catholics feeling renewed

“I hope it won’t be another 110 years before the next one.” So says a friend just back from Adoremus, the National Eucharistic Congress which brought thousands of Catholics to Liverpool last weekend. Not since 1908 has there been a national event devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. And the event was plainly overdue: everyone I spoke to came back from Liverpool buzzing. “I was in two minds about whether to go,” one said. “But I’m so glad I did.”

Gerry Kehoe, the bishops’ conference’s events organiser, says that if you include those who came to parallel events and Masses, the total attendance was in the region of 20,000 to 30,000.

The event started on Friday with a symposium on the Eucharist. Saturday began and ended with prayer events. In between were two keynote talks from Bishop Robert Barron, whose YouTube videos have been viewed more than 30 million times. (Bishop Barron won a new fan in LBC presenter Shelagh Fogarty, who MC’d the event: “If someone told me I’d be gripped by a talk on the Mass that’s longer than most Masses I’d have been sceptical,” she tweeted.) On Sunday Cardinal Vincent Nichols celebrated Mass, before a Eucharistic procession in which ane timates 10,000 took part.

The contrast with 1908, when the International Eucharistic Congress took place in London, is instructive and a little chastening. According to a study by the historian Thomas Horwood, the 1908 congress received more press coverage than the Pan-Anglican Congress or the Trades Union Congress of the same year.

“Many column inches were devoted to the preparations and proceedings; photographs were printed; and hundreds of readers’ letters were published afterwards,” Horwood found. This year, apart from a report on the BBC website, there has been little attention.

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