By James Mulford
DUBLIN, JUNE 17, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Pilgrims from around Ireland and the whole world filed into Croke Park Stadium this morning for the closing ceremony and final mass of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress held this past week in Dublin, Ireland.
ZENIT spoke with some of them as they took their places in the stadium.
Mark Acoba, a young student from the Philippines and a member of ‘Youth for Christ,’ said the week was “amazing” and that he was especially impressed by the testimony of a Philipinne dancer who spoke of his conversion and discovery of faith.
Fathers Brian Dowd and Gerard Sauer led a pilgrimage of 71 people from the Diocese of Brooklyn. Before coming to the Eucharistic Congress, they visited other parts of Ireland, including Galway, Blarney and the Marian Shrine of Knock. One of the pilgrims, Peggy Pomeroy, from Tappan, N.Y., said she was moved to tears by the homily yesterday given by the Archbishop of Manila, Luis Antonio Tagle.
On the other side of the stadium, two priests from Philidelphia shared their experiences. Father Roland Slobogin, who had just arrived from a recent visit to Knock, said it was “awesome” and “just so spiritual.” His fellow priest, Father Eugene M. Tully, also from Philadelphia, offered that the Eucharistic Congress helped him see a “community beyond vision.” He added, “It went way beyond what the eye could see and was a sign of something much more profound, much more spiritual.”
Brigid Carthy and Mary Dooley are two sisters of the same family who came from Kilkenny as part of a Medjugorje Prayer Group in County Carlow. Although they weren’t able to attend the full Congress, they followed it during the week on EWTN and the internet and, in Mary’s words, “I didn’t want to miss the final mass for the life of me.”
Twin sisters, Gemma and Triona King are Irish consecrated lay women who have attended the entire Congress. Gemma commented that it was “way beyond all our expectations.” She said the whole area where the Congress was held was like a “Eucharistic Village” and you could feel the love and charity among all the people. Her sister, Triona, called it a “Festival of Faith” and was struck by the energy and enthusiam of all the participants. “It was like being on Mt. Tabor and you don’t want to come down. We wish it would never end.”