Eucharistic Congress, Sacrifice of Enduring Love, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C., September 11 & 12, 2009. Sponsored by the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR) the focus was on the Eucharist as the key to faithfully living your vocation whether in priesthood, religious vows or marriage. Principal celebrants and homilist were Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia and Episcopal Liaison for CMSWR on Friday, and Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio of the United States on Saturday. Primary speakers including Sean Patrick Cardinal O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada, Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, Archbishop of Baltimore, Mother Ann Marie Katlovic, Prioress General of the Dominican Sisters of the Congregation of St. Cecilia, and Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus. Daily Mass, confession, adoration, procession, musical interludes, keynote speeches, and workshop sessions made for a fulfilling and spiritual 30 hours. Largest contingent of participants were women religious with a modest number of laity in attendance. Based on the Basilica's 3,500 person sitting capacity, I'd estimate the attendance at roughly 2,500. The workshop "To Be Lovers of Life:" The Legacy of My Mother, St. Gianna Beretta Molla presented by her daughter, Laura Molla, was packed. St. Gianna, often called the "pro-life saint," was canonized in 2004 by Pope John Paul II for having put her unborn child's life before her own. In 1962, when she was pregnant with her fourth child, doctors discovered a large ovarian tumor that required surgery. Although surgical procedures at the time called for removal of her entire uterus, Gianna Molla, 39, insisted surgeons only remove what was necessary and allow her baby to live. She died within weeks of the delivery of her daughter. From Mother Mary Quentin Sheridan, Chairperson of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, " Dear Friends in Christ, Even before you came to the Eucharistic Congress we have prayed for you, that through your participation in these days of the Eucharistic Congress, God the Father will give you every gift of grace and fill you with renewed love for Christ in the Sacrament of His Love. May this time of reflection and prayerful celebration enliven your faith in Christ, strenghten your hope in His promises and deepen your love for the Church. Enlightened by the Holy Spirit may you be inspired to offer daily, in union with Jesus Christ, your own personal share in the sacrifice of enduring love as you live faithfully the vocation to which you are called." Amen to all that!
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