Yunlin County, TAIWAN – Another National Eucharistic Congress was held in Taiwan on March 1, 2019. Since its inception in 2011, this year’s Eucharistic Congress is so far the 4th to be held in this state. The theme “All my springs are in thee” (Psalm 87:7) 我的一切泉源都在祢內 is derived from the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress which will take place in Budapest, Hungary on September 13-20, 2020.
The Diocese of Chiayi嘉義教區 with its Local Ordinary, Bishop Thomas Chung An-zu鐘安住 hosted this year’s National Eucharistic Congress. The event was held in Yunlin County Stadium雲林縣立體育館. All the Catholic Bishops from the seven (7) Dioceses of Taiwan with more than 200 priests, including the Augustinian Recollects, and over ten thousand faithful filled the venue to the rafters, with many more who couldn’t be seated inside spilling outside the building.
Pope Francis sent to Taiwan his legate Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples to represent him. Among the prominent attendees were the Vice President of Taiwan, Chen Chien-jen陳建仁 and his wife who are both Roman Catholic.
During the opening ceremony, the Tsou Tribe鄒族 donning colourful aboriginal garments welcomed the crowd with their traditional dance which paid tribute to the creator God. Then, Most Rev. Peter Liu Chen-chung劉振忠, Bishop of Kaohsiung, welcomed the attendees and introduced the honoured guests.
To energize the crowd, charismatic hymns were sung, which brought everyone to their feet, with their hands up in the air praising God. The youth of Chiayi Diocese had a significant role in the whole event. The program was vibrant as it was solemn. The catechetical instructions were dramatized in such a way that appealed to both young and old. The youth, as if in an ordinary conversation to their beloved grandfather, took turns in posing questions or situations to Bishop Chung of Chiayi, which were derived from their experience of the Eucharist and which ordinary Catholics also encounter. In a light-hearted and easy-to-understand way, Bishop Chung answered those existential questions of the youth. Various individuals also shared about their faith experience with the crowd.
The last part of the morning’s event was the launching of the Chinese version of the App “Click to Pray” which Pope Francis hopes would link everyone through prayers.
During lunch break, designated priests sat for the Sacrament of Confession. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass started at 1:15PM with Most Rev. Fernando Cardinal Filoni as the main celebrant. The Cardinal used English in the celebration and in delivering his homily, though the faithful replied and sang in Chinese. Chinese translations of his homily were also projected at the big screens inside the stadium.
Parishioners from Recollect-administered parishes in Kaoshiung
After the Concluding Prayers was the procession of the Blessed Sacrament. Mounted in a beautiful monstrance, two deacons took turns in bringing the Blessed Sacrament in and around the stadium with the Cardinal and the Bishops in tow. The Deacons made a stop at each of the four corners of the stadium, and blessed the people. When it returned to the altar, Cardinal Filoni made the benediction and bestowed the final blessing to the whole crowd.
After the reposition of the Holy Sacrament, the letter from Pope Francis granting the participants of the event a Plenary Indulgence was read. Then, the customary prayers of Credo, Our Father, and Hail Mary were also recited. What followed were messages of thanks and acknowledgements as well as exchanging of gifts from the Church of Taiwan to Cardinal Filoni and vice versa. Cardinal Filoni received a statue of Our Lady of China and he, in turn, gifted Bishop Chung of Chiayi a beautiful chalice. Then, the symbols of the Eucharistic Congress were handed over to Bishop Bosco Lin Chi-nan 林吉男of Tainan who will host the next Eucharistic Congress.