VATICAN CITY, OCT. 1, 2004 ( The international congress that will open the Year of the Eucharist seeks to highlight the centrality of this sacrament in the life of the Church, says John Paul II.

The Pope pointed this out in a letter to Cardinal Josef Tomko, who will represent him as papal legate at the Oct. 10-17 congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.

"The Eucharist, saving presence of Jesus in the community of faithful and their spiritual nourishment, is the most precious gift the Church can have in her journey in history," states the letter written in Latin.

The Pope explains to Cardinal Tomko, who is president of the Holy See's Committee for Eucharistic Congresses, that for 2,000 years Christians have found refuge "in this divine treasure in which, as if it were a fountain, they can slake their thirst and regain new forces to address daily commitments with more energy and zeal."

John Paul II will open the Year of the Eucharist from St. Peter's Basilica, and will be connected by satellite with Guadalajara for the closing ceremony of the congress.

Cardinal Tomko, retired prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, plans to arrive in Mexico on Oct. 5 and participate Oct. 6-8 in the theological symposium preceding the congress.