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Why was Indy chosen for the Eucharistic Congress? The archbishop explains

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Half of America lives within a day’s drive of Indianapolis.

The U.S. bishops hope up to 100,000 of those people show up in the Circle City three years from now for the first national Eucharistic congress since 1976.

“Our people are excited about what it can mean for us as families, as individuals, as parishes, as a diocese, but [also] as a Church throughout the country,” Archbishop Charles C. Thompson of Indianapolis told CNA on Nov. 17.

Earlier in the day, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announced the city as the location of the National Eucharist Congress, scheduled for July 17-21, 2024. The gathering will mark the culmination of a three-year Eucharist revival campaign the U.S. bishops plan to undertake, beginning on June 19, 2022 on the feast of Corpus Christi.

Denver, Atlanta, and Indianapolis all made the short list of possible host cities, Thompson said.

In the end, he was told, it was the city’s central location, its highly regarded convention facilities, and its experience hosting major events, including the Super Bowl, last year’s NBA playoffs, and the 2022 College Football Championship Game Jan. 10, that tipped the scales.

The city’s convention center, 70,000-seat Lucas Oil Stadium, and a network of major hotels are all connected to one another, Thompson noted, making it easy for event goers to move from site to site without going outdoors.

Thompson himself was flying home Nov. 18 to attend the National Catholic Youth Conference, being held in Indianapolis Nov. 18-20.

Because it’s been 45 years since the last U.S. Eucharistic congress, in Philadelphia, American Catholics might need a refresher about what such a happening actually is.

In short, it’s a concentrated celebration of the Eucharist as the centerpiece of Catholic life, and typically features Masses, adoration, processions, and inspirational speakers, among other events. The 52nd International Eucharist Congress took place in Budapest, Hungary on Sept. 5-12.

The city’s selection as host of the 2024 congress will mean more work for the archdiocese, but Thompson told CNA he’s confident his staff is up for the challenge.

He thinks Indianapolis is a fitting choice, for many reasons.

“Indiana is known as the crossroads of America,” he said.

“When I think of crossroads I think of the cross. And without the cross, there would be no Eucharist. Jesus on Holy Thursday night gives a great model of service, but he also gives us his body and blood.”

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