DETROIT — It was 3 a.m. at a parish-sponsored retreat, and Marie Wilkie of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Farmington Hills, Michigan, was in her pajamas, dozing before the Blessed Sacrament on display in the chapel.
Wilkie was unfamiliar with Eucharistic adoration, but she was drawn to the presence of the Lord before her.
While chaperoning students on a trip to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Karen Ervin of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth, Michigan, stumbled across a chapel of worship.
Following the example of nuns praying before the Blessed Sacrament, she fell on her knees. Overwhelmed with emotion, Ervin got up to leave, and Christ spoke to him clearly saying, “Stay with me.
Time and time again Christ calls from his exposed place in the chapel of adoration and invites his beloved children to remain with him, to sit in silence and be present with him: “I am here”, says -he.
These stories are at the heart of the new I AM HERE campaign, a partnership between the Archdiocese of Detroit and the Hallow app created to support the U.S. Bishops’ three-year National Eucharistic Revival and to inspire people to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist and to experience its power of transformation.
U.S. archdioceses and dioceses will kick off the renewal with Eucharistic processions on June 19, the feast of Corpus Christi.
In the Archdiocese of Detroit, Bishop Allen H. Vigneron will lead a two-mile Eucharistic procession from the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament to Sacred Heart Major Seminary.
The I AM HERE campaign is a way to answer the call of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in a “unique way in Detroit,” said Emily Mentock, associate director of strategy for the Department of Communications at the ‘archdiocese.
“Diocese across the country are going to emphasize worshiping Jesus in the Eucharist through things like Eucharistic Processions, Holy Hours and Eucharistic Congresses,” Mentock said. “But we know, here in the Archdiocese of Detroit, the power of testimony and testimony to release the gospel.”
The I AM HERE campaign includes a website – iamhere.org – and social media channels featuring stories of individuals whose lives have been touched by Eucharistic adoration, as well as a series of free audio meditations on the Hallow app to help people pray before the Blessed Sacrament.
The campaign also aims to partner with parishes to expand worship opportunities and encourage parishioners to submit their own stories.
The campaign includes stories from people from all walks of life and with different backgrounds and experiences, Mentock said. The website will feature written testimonials and a featured story will be shared each week along with a photo essay and in-depth first-person narrative.
“I hope people can connect with some of the stories,” Mentock told Detroit Catholic, the archdiocese’s online media outlet. “They can see similarities in a person’s life, but also be open to the possibilities of all the different ways Jesus can transform people. Hopefully we can help people encounter the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and inspire them to go meet him there.
The campaign will feature a story each week until the National Eucharistic Congress in July 2024, said Edmundo Reyes, communications director for the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Over two years, over 100 individual stories will be shared.
“In addition to these featured stories, people are invited to submit their own stories to post on the website,” Reyes said. “So we hope to have hundreds, if not thousands of stories as witnesses to this transformative power of the Eucharist.”
The Archdiocese has partnered with Hallow, a Catholic app offering reflections and prayer guides, to offer free audio meditations to help people pray before the Blessed Sacrament.
“We think meditations can help people,” Reyes said. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been to worship or haven’t been there for a long time, these meditations will get you started.”
There are six meditations, written and voiced by Julianne Stanz, a nationally acclaimed speaker and writer who is Director of Discipleship and Parish Life for the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin. She is also a consultant to the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Catechesis and Evangelism and a member of the leadership team for the National Eucharistic Revival.
There is an additional meditation by Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, president of the National Eucharistic Revival. He chairs the USCCB Evangelism and Catechesis Committee, which spearheads the revival and congress.
“Our mission at Hallow is to help people pray, so it was a natural partnership for us to provide these wonderful meditations to help people as they pray before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament,” Kevin said. Cotter, content manager at Hallow. “Our first six meditations take the listener on a journey of encounter with Christ in the Eucharist, each centered on a truth about the nature of God: I am with you; I am love; I am the way.”
The silence of worship can be intimidating, Mentock said, so the meditations are a resource for helping people encounter Jesus in the Eucharist.
“Even for people who are seasoned worshipers, the meditations are truly great journeys and reflections on the ‘I Am’ statements of Jesus throughout the scriptures,” Mentock said. “It brings (people) into the presence of mind and heart that Jesus is there with them in the Eucharist and meets them wherever they are in their brokenness, in their sorrow, in their joy.”
The final component is a partnership with parishes to help them increase awareness and participation in Eucharistic adoration, Reyes said. The hope is to see more worship opportunities and to increase the number of people participating.
The I AM HERE campaign will provide parishes with promotional materials to encourage worship, but also to share their own stories, Reyes added.
“We want the stories to be very, very local and we want participating parishes to collect stories from their own parish to share with their own communities,” Reyes said. “We want to invite others to be inspired.”
Stories don’t have to be miraculous or dramatic, Reyes said; rather, most come from daily encounters in which Christ makes clear that he is present in the Eucharist.
“‘I am’ is the name of God revealed to us: ‘I am who I am,'” Reyes said. “The name (of the campaign) comes from the name of God which is “I Am”. “Here” refers to the Eucharist, but it also refers to God being with us in our circumstances, in our brokenness, in our God wants to be with us, and one of the ways He is with us is through the Eucharist.
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Patti is a staff reporter for Detroit Catholic, the online media outlet for the Archdiocese of Detroit.