More than two thousand people from Derry and Donegal are expected to converge on Croke Park on Sunday for the closing Mass of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress.
The Mass, which will be celebrated by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, representative of Pope Benedict XVI, is expected to attract up to 80,000 pilgrims from both Ireland and across the world.
It is eighty years since Ireland last hosted the Eucharistic Congress which takes place every four years. The Congress aims to celebrate and develop a deeper understanding and awareness of the Eucharist in the life of the Catholic Church.
The theme of the 2012 event is “Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with one another.”
Monsignor Eamon Martin, Diocesan Administrator for the Diocese of Derry, has described it as an international celebration characterised by “prayer, reflection and joy.”
Speaking from Dublin, he told the ‘Journal’: “The atmosphere at the Congress is one of quiet celebration. This is a very different event to that which took place in Ireland in 1932. Life in Ireland and for the Church have changed a lot since then.
“The Congress is attracting people of faith from all over the country and the world and there are also many visitors who are coming simply to see and hear what it is all about. I get a great sense of hope.”
Mons. Martin said he was delighted to “meet many people and priests from all over the Diocese of Derry who had travelled to Dublin for the Congress.”
“I hope and trust that their presence here is making a difference in their lives. I am also pleased that so many people in their homes and parishes have been joining their prayers with those who are here in Dublin. When Pope Benedict XVI announced that the Congress was coming to Ireland, he prayed that it would be a moment of grace and renewal for the people. I am confident that will be so.”
220 pilgrims and a choir of 20 people from Derry’s Waterside will be among the local contingent travelling to Croke Park on Sunday.