.- African Catholics, including priests and religious ministering in the United States will gather will U.S. Church officials and a Tanzanian bishop for the first-ever African National Eucharistic Congress, which will be held Sept. 2-3 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and The Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C.
African pastoral leaders planned the event, which is open to all people, in collaboration with the U.S. bishops’ Office for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, Migration and Refugee Services.
The congress seeks to offer African Catholics in the U.S. an opportunity to reflect on the significance of the Eucharist in their faith life and to deepen their faith through Mass and Eucharistic adoration.
A related objective is to gather African Catholic newcomers to experience mutual support and renewal of their life and African values and cultures.
Sr. Joanna Okereke, coordinator of U.S. bishops’ ethnic ministries, says more than 500 people have registered as of Tuesday. The Nigerian-born sister also noted that more than 1,000 African nuns and 900 African priests are now ministering throughout the U.S.
Bishop Joseph Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago and Episcopal liaison for African and Caribbean communities, will give the keynote address Sept. 2nd, on the theme, “Eucharist: Source of Unity, Solidarity and Reconciliation.”
Bishop Augustine Shao of Zanzibar, Tanzania, will preside and preach at a 3 p.m. Mass on Saturday. The mass will be followed by a procession of nations, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and a cultural celebration featuring a banquet with an assortment of African foods. Participants are invited to wear their native African dress.
Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington will preside at a closing Mass, Sunday in the Crypt Church of the Basilica at 9:30 a.m.
Workshops will be offered on topics, such as Mary, Woman of the Eucharist; Eucharist and African Culture; Youth and the Eucharist; and Enculturation of the Eucharist.
Special activities will also be provided for children, age 5 to 12.
The 7th national convention of the African Conference of Catholic Clergy and Religious in the United States precedes the convention this week.