Father Torres called to spark Eucharistic revival

ORLANDO | Father Jorge Torres remembers his First Holy Communion fondly. He just immigrated to New York with his family when his mother took both him and his sister to church for the Sacrament. That spark ignited in his heart and led him to the priesthood in the Diocese of Orlando. Now God is calling him to help launch a Eucharistic Revival with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The theme for the USCCB’s strategic plan for 2021-2024 is “Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ, Source of Our Healing and Hope”.  Father Torres explains it’s “in response to studies that show many Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence – that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord, Jesus.” He prays these efforts will help all Catholics to “experience our Eucharistic Lord in a whole new way.”

“This is a passion of mine,” shared Father Torres. Since receiving his First Holy Communion, “this has been inside my heart.” He remembers gathering parishioners at his first assignment St. Ann’s in Haines City and studying John 6, Eucharistic miracles, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its teachings on the Eucharist. “I look forward to doing this throughout the country.”

The USCCB’s plan has five strategic priorities:  Evangelization, Life and Dignity of the Human Person, Protect and Heal God’s Children, Vocations, and Pandemic Recovery. Church leaders started building the program more than one year ago, but paused when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Father Torres considers it a hidden blessing. “The timing could not be better after the pandemic because we are all looking for ways to encounter the Lord, for community, and how we can help those in need,” he said.

Paraphrasing Auxiliary Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of St. Paul and Minneapolis, chairman of the committee, he said, “There comes a point when we need to stop and hold up the Eucharist so we can refocus.” Father Torres affirmed, “If we allow this to be a time of exploration, not only for the Church, but for the world, it will reap copious fruits.”

The clergy don’t plan to do this alone. They’re asking for help from the faithful and preparing online training to form lay Eucharistic missionaries and diocesan days of Eucharistic Adoration and Reconciliation. Apostolates will be encouraged to help “animate” parish Eucharistic activities, and follow-ups for youth after World Youth Day 2022.

“My hope is everyone will take that step in inviting someone,” Father Torres said. He is grateful for his catechist, priests and faithful who played a role in his own Eucharistic revival. The lawyer, the cashier, the car mechanic “each have a role,” he said in “sharing the Good News.” “The more people see that invitation (to the Eucharist) can change lives, the more it will have a greater impact.”

Those invitations must come at times of joy and great sadness. Having battled loss in his own life, Father Torres explains, “The Eucharist was always a place to go to encounter each other, God, and encounter healing. I saw that time and time again through unexpected tragedies… the Pulse Night Club attack, and various experiences the Lord has brought me through to minister to His people. “Suffering is not separated from the Eucharist,” he said. “At times it may go hand in hand. The beauty is that when we suffer there, we are suffering with Jesus. We are not alone.”

Father Torres leaves for Washington, D.C. in early July to serve as a specialist to the USCCB Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis. He takes with him experience as parochial administrator of St. Ann-Haines City and Most Precious Blood-Oviedo, and as pastor of Holy Redeemer- Kissimmee and most recently Our Lady of Lourdes-Melbourne. He is a former diocesan vocations director and campus minister at the University of Central Florida.

As secretary of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors, Father Torres studied vocation patterns for the USCCB. “It always starts with an encounter,” he noted. He hopes the revival will also spark a fervor for increased vocations.

Citing the end of John 6, he quoted Jesus as He spoke to His apostles about the Eucharist, “Are you going to leave me as well?” Peter responds, “To whom shall I go Lord. You have the words of everlasting life.” These words were inscribed on Father Torres’ Ordination card. “There comes to a point when we see there is nowhere else to go, but to Our Lord,” he shared. “Once again it is Him guiding me step by step… May His heart be the one that beats instead of mine.”

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic, June 10, 2021


Ignite the Light of the World

Parishioners and patrons of Park Avenue light candles during Eucharistic Adoration at St. Margaret Mary Parish, Winter Park. (ANDREA NAVARRO)

WINTER PARK | During the final weekend of Advent, young parishioners of St. Margaret Mary Parish invited patrons of posh Park Avenue to light a candle and pray.

The group hoped to share the love of Christ with passersby on December 18th. The candles burned at the foot of the altar as a sign of God listening to His people. Worship music echoed throughout the church as the Holy Eucharist beamed in the monstrance on the altar. The faithful of Winter Park decided to host this event, Nightfever, after huge success in downtown Orlando at St. James Cathedral.

“It was beautiful for me to watch people as they entered the church and as they walked away,” said Father Adam Marchese, parochial vicar. “There was one family, in particular, that I have in mind. They entered with hesitation. There was debate as to whether everyone would go in, or if just one person should enter to light the candle. With a little encouragement, they decided to walk in together. About 10 minutes later, they left the church. Not one of them had a dry eye. They didn’t come to Park Ave specifically for this event, but they clearly needed it.”

Nightfever also encourages young people to actively participate in evangelizing to the larger community. High school volunteers competed against one another to invite more people inside.

“They’d be like, ‘You get some candles out and see if you can get anybody in.’ Then they’d be like, ‘Hey I got three people…well I got four people’” said Hunter Spyckaboer, youth ministry leader. “It was fun watching them get into it and trying to get people to say a prayer.”

A steady stream of people flowed in and out of the church for two hours. Strangers experienced the glory of God through a gentle invitation.

“It’s a lot less threatening because you’re actually being friendly,” said Lucy Woodman, young adult volunteer. “You are seeing them as a person and making that connection rather than being shouted at.”

The Holy Spirit also reignited the faith of one family who had been away from the Church for some time. After speaking with them, Woodman shared Mass times and invited them home – perhaps leaving with even more trust in God’s goodness herself.

“[This event] gives me hope because you don’t think many people on the street are going to respond well or even come inside the church,” she reflected. “But I was proven quite wrong.”

By Lana Kaczmarek, Special to the Florida Catholic, December 20, 2021

Chapel Blessing in Altamonte

Bishop John Noonan blesses the new chapel at Annunciation Catholic Academy. (COURTESY)

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS | Annunciation Catholic Academy celebrated the blessing of a new chapel by Bishop John Noonan on March 29th. The former media center now connects students with Christ.

“It was the vision of our new pastor, Father Ivan Olmo,” said Principal Patty Kahle. “He wanted the Blessed Sacrament to be more accessible to students and faculty.”

This new chapel draws focus to the significance of the Eucharist in the life of the Church and is a great lead into the upcoming Eucharistic Revival that begins in dioceses across the country on the feast of Corpus Christi June 16, 2022.

For more information: https://eucharisticrevival.org/

Corpus Christi celebration offers hope in difficult times

Corpus Christi Mass on June 19th at Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. (ANDREA NAVARRO)

Around the world, countries are engaged in devastating wars and conflicts, the coronavirus pandemic is well into its third year and the daily news is full of reports of shortages, scandals and tragedies. But the hundreds of people who participated in the celebration of Corpus Christi Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, joining with Catholics across the country to begin the National Eucharistic Revival, have chosen to set their sights higher, on the source of all hope and comfort – the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

“God is present everywhere, in every time,” said Vasyl Lushchyk, a parishioner at St. Mary Protectress Ukrainian Catholic Church in Apopka. Lushchyk’s home country of Ukraine is currently embroiled in a war with Russia, leaving the local community concerned for the safety of their friends and family and for the future of their country. “We all pray for our country in these turbulent times. We’ve noticed that much more people are visiting our church since these times began… they just want to get more comfort in Jesus by visiting a church,” said Lushchyk.

A group of parishioners from St. Mary’s were among the nine cultures represented on Sunday, June 19. Traditionally, the Mass is followed by a Eucharistic procession throughout the grounds of the Basilica, stopping at various altars of repose from each ethnic community. Though the stormy weather meant the procession was moved indoors, each group had the opportunity to approach the altar and offer praise and Eucharistic Adoration to Jesus in the monstrance with traditional songs, dress, and symbols from their country.

“Our community presented our culture through national clothes, and beautiful, pious song,” said Father Roman Kuzminskyi, administrator of St. Mary’s. “For us, this event will be dedicated to prayer for the suffering Ukrainian people, soldiers and all volunteers.”

Other communities showcased included Brazil, Haiti, Africa, Poland, Philippines, Korea, Vietnam and India, each worshipping in a unique way, filling the Basilica with the sounds of instruments and joyful singing in many different languages, but united as the Body of Christ in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

“To us, myself and my wife, the most meaningful moment was at the end when all the communities approached the altar and did homage to Jesus, singing. The variety was so beautiful,” said Wagner Rogero, a member of the Brazilian community at Resurrection Parish in Winter Garden. “The Eucharist is Jesus. Every time we receive the Eucharist, we receive Jesus into our body and our heart. Because of our faith in the Eucharist, we believe that we will be guided and protected during these very difficult times.”

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ launched the beginning of a three-year National Eucharistic Revival, with the mission to, “renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist” and to “inspire a movement of Catholics across the United States who are healed, converted, formed, and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist—and who are then sent out on mission for the life of the world.” Diocesan events will be held throughout the next year to respond to the Lord’s personal invitation to each of the faithful.

“In the Gospel today from Luke, Jesus is reaching out to the people, He loves them. He’s spiritually feeding them. He’s physically taking care of them and even in their hunger He feeds them with five loaves and two fishes,” said Bishop John Noonan in Sunday’s homily. “My dear people, the greatest gift we have ever received from God is the love of His Son Jesus Christ. The greatest gift we can return to the Lord, is to receive Him in love.”

Bishop Noonan also reflected on the words spoken by Pope Francis during that morning’s angelus prayer, noting the Eucharist is both a gift and an invitation to love and serve as Jesus did.

“There is hunger for food around us, but also of companionship; there is hunger for consolation, friendship, good humor; there is hunger for attention, there is hunger to be evangelized,” said Pope Francis. “We find this in the Eucharistic Bread – the attention of Christ to our needs and the invitation to do the same toward those who are beside us. We need to eat and feed others.”

This year, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi fell on Father’s Day, which Bishop Noonan explained beautifully illustrated the relational aspect of the Eucharist, that it is a relationship of love that feeds both body and soul. Just as earthly fathers give their love and support to their families, so too does the heavenly Father pour out His abundant love in the Eucharist.

“We’re asked to come together to remember, to believe, to trust that when Christ comes to us in the Eucharist, He comes to us in reality, to help us, to lead us, and to guide us out of love,” concluded Bishop Noonan. “May the presence of Christ in His Eucharist, continue to help us, to believe, to trust, but above all, to love.

For more information on the National Eucharistic Revival in the Diocese of Orlando, visit: www.orlandodiocese.org/eucharistic-revival



By Elizabeth Wilson, a Florida Catholic Correspondent, June 21, 2022

This week’s question: What is transubstantiation and when does it happen in the Mass?

Bishop John Noonan holds the Body and Blood of Christ during the Eucharistic Prayer. (MARJORIE DURANTE)

The term “transubstantiation” is a scholastic term used by St. Thomas Aquinas and others to help explain the miracle that takes place at Mass. It would be good to start with an example, a person has the “substance” of personhood with “accidents” like weight, hair color, and personality. These “accidents” could change, but the personhood remains at all times.

The Church teaches “transubstantiation,” meaning that the “substance” has changed from bread and wine to the glorified Body and Blood of Christ. At the same time, the “accidents” remain the same as a time-tested explanation for what occurs at Mass during the consecration of the bread and wine. “Accidents” mean that the host continues to taste, look and feel like bread, but the “substance” has become the Body of Christ. The “accidents” of wine taste, color and fluidity remain while its “substance” has become the Body of Christ. This change continues after Mass. That is why the Church reserves the consecrated hosts in the tabernacle, and the hosts can also be adored by placing one in the monstrance for the exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Yet, for all explanations, words fall short of the mysteries of God. Our language has limitations, and so approximations are the way to help us get closer to the mystery, behold Him and allow Him to behold us.

By Father Jorge Torres, June 21, 2022