Pilgrims to make way a path for the Lord

Jun 27, 2024
National Eucharistic Congress Missionaries from the Basilica of St. Paul in Daytona Beach: top row left: Daven M., Father Edgar Serrano, Paul Riley. Center row left: Sister Beata Fiedorczuk, Milena Fields, Khandis M., Josh Kusmierz, Charly Anne Kusmierz, Stephanie Riley, Sister Evangeline Kiambati. Front row left: Victoria Ocasio, Jennifer Huertas, Valeria Ramirez, Jackie R., Aurora Earnest, Mindy Hoover. Not pictured are missionaries Madeline Riley and seminarian Jerry Usher. (COURTESY)

Local Catholics plan to join thousands in Indianapolis for National Eucharistic Congress


DAYTONA BEACH | Eucharistic Adoration, catechesis and monthly gatherings are helping National Eucharistic Congress participants prepare to get the most out of the 10th National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis July 17-21. Throughout the Diocese of Orlando, participants are responding to a call for renewal in the Church, with hope for a deeper understanding of the Eucharist and a new zeal for sharing Christ’s love in the world.

The National Eucharistic Revival began three years ago, on the feast of Corpus Christi in June 2022. Shortly after, Father Kenneth Gill, rector of the Basilica of St. Paul in Daytona Beach, began Christ in the City, an opportunity to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament every Wednesday night for two hours. Then he and parochial vicar Father Edgar Serrano began to pray about who to send to the congress as missionaries. They selected 12, just as Jesus did.

“We selected them because most have already been serving in the community. We need people who are already growing in faith and are willing to move to the next level, as missionaries,” said Father Serrano who will accompany them as chaplain. Also joining them are Missionary Sisters of the Holy Family Evangeline Kiambati and Beata Fiedorczuk, and Josh Kusmierz and his wife, Charly Anne.

“The idea is that we are going to receive and what we receive we will bring back and share with everybody. That is our mission,” Father Serrano said.

On Wednesday nights, the Basilica of St. Paul hosts Christ in the City, an opportunity for the community to come and adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. The hope is to increase fervor and revive a love of the Eucharist. (COURTESY)

The group meets monthly and works through videos provided by the congress to assist in preparation. They also gather for Eucharistic Adoration on Wednesday nights. “We come first to the heart of Jesus then we move to our catechism groups,” said Father Serrano, who looks forward to the transformations the congress will bring to his group.

“My hope is to be love, to be more love than we are,” he said. “We are supposed to be Jesus. So the idea of this is to make our way to the congress and become a little more like Jesus ourselves.”

Paul Riley grew up at the Basilica, attended Catholic school and sent his children there as well. Like him, the children are both altar servers and are involved in other ministries. Riley loved serving when he was young but finds it even more enriching to serve with his wife, Stephanie. They participated in marriage ministry for a decade and have spent another 11 years teaching First Holy Communion.

Riley said he’s not sure how non-believers “make it through their normal existence.” He calls it a blessing to teach about the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion. He loves sharing “how God is always there for you, how God never turns His back on you,” he said. “As you move into receiving and sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ, how beautiful it is that God is always with you and gives you strength. After you first receive, it’s a gift you have for life.” He encourages the children to “keep Christ close to them and receive Him as often as they can as they continue to grow.”

Khandis and Daven are missionaries from the Basilica of St. Paul in Daytona Beach who will be attending the National Eucharistic Congress, July 17-21, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (COURTESY)

Riley is deeply moved to make this pilgrimage to the Eucharistic Congress with his wife and daughters and looks forward to sharing what he learns with his students.

Also chosen for the congress are Khandis and her brother Daven. “It was an honor to be selected because I want to meet a lot of people who share the same belief and faith in God that I do,” said 17-year-old Khandis. Her faith in the True Presence moved her to become an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion one year ago. “I love the moment of consecration,” she said. “I love when the bells are rung, for everyone to focus on it. I love to share the Eucharist with other people because it’s sharing God.”

Khandis said the monthly catechesis on the Eucharist has taught her many new things about the Blessed Sacrament. She was particularly impressed by the martyrs who died to protect it. She hopes she will learn more and receive guidance at the congress on how to share what she learns with others and maybe even bring some of her friends into the Catholic Church.

Her 15-year-old brother, Daven, agreed. “Growing up in the Church, I’ve always considered it a second home. I hope to encourage others, as a missionary, to find comfort and shelter with God in the Eucharist,” he said.

Each week Basilica missionaries introduce themselves through the weekly bulletin. In her letter, Missionary Sister of the Holy Family Beata Fiedorczuk said, “I carry with me the prayers, hopes, and needs of our community, seeking to reflect the love and grace we have received from the Lord in the Eucharist. It’s a responsibility I embrace with humility and reverence, knowing that through our collective witness, we contribute to the ongoing story of faith and love in the life of the Church.”

The parish will host 24-hour Eucharistic Adoration just before their departure, offering prayers for their mission. Consider praying for all the diocesan missionaries attending the Eucharistic Congress July 17-21. To learn more about the Eucharist, click here

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic staff, June 27, 2024