Rebuild My Church: Marquette Diocese Eucharistic Congress

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

June 24, 2023

In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi’s call to ‘Rebuild My Church’, Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Jan Villemure reflects on a recent weekend in her home diocese of Marquette, Michigan and the ‘One Thing is Necessary’ Diocese of Marquette’s Eucharistic Congress.  Find a photo journal of events here.

The trip to my homeland of the Upper Peninsula for the UP Eucharistic Congress was an experience of many blessings.

First, I got to spend two nights with Sr. Margey. I pray for her and her missions in Republic and Champion. We don’t see one another during the year, so the two days were a treat. Sr. Margey was a great hostess. Seven of us Franciscans were at her convent Friday night. We got home from the conference about 9:30 and spent until 12:30 enjoying her snack supper and visiting.

Friday about 4pm we left for the convention at the Superior Dome.  People were streaming in and music was playing from the Dave and Lauren Moore, a husband wife team who are Christian musicians. They kicked off the conference and witnessed and sang in between all sessions.  During this time we browsed the booths and found our community one full of things our sisters make to share.

Three main speakers shared the love of the Eucharist, the meaning of Eucharist and ways to live the Eucharist daily. Edward Sri, the founder of FOCUS, and a theologian of today, shared thoughts from his book on the Mass “A Biblical Walk through the Mass” and a book on the virtues called “Into His Likeness.” He made the mass become a real part of our lives beyond the church service. Each phrase of the main liturgy parts came alive in him. His enthusiasm was contagious. One thing he stressed in the virtues talk is that we acquire virtue not for ourselves but for others. His podcast is called “All Things Catholic.”

Fr. John Riccardo, the founder of Acts XXIX, from Detroit, ministers to priests and bishops. His podcast is call “You Were Born for This.” He gave many insights to us about deepening our appreciation of Eucharist.

Fr. Luke Spannagel from Illinois, gave two gentle presentations on living the Eucharist daily.

Steve Ray told us the story of his conversion from his Baptist background to our Catholic faith. He spoke about the ties from OT to NT and sacrifice then and sacrifice now. Christ’s sacrifice and each Mass is the fulness of this worship.

Two huge Masses were at the core of the weekend. We worshipped with some 1200 people who are keeping the faith alive. All the speakers encouraged us not to lose heart in our world which tries to downplay, snuff out or forget the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Many Catholics do not believe. Hopefully those present will go out renewed in HOPE and conviction to change our world.

I saw Fr. Jed Patrick from my first teaching assignment in Menominee MI. That goes back to 1969! We were assigned at St. Anne in Menominee, which is gone and now a McDonald’s, but we remember the two schools and churches which were so alive in that time: Epiphany and Menominee Catholic Central.

It was great to see some of my Yooper relatives at the conference. Thanks to our Grandma Villemure and our parents, the faith has been passed down I also saw people from my hometown of Manistique, where my faith journey began and continues.

On the wall at the back of the Superior Dome I found my Uncle Bob Villemure’s plaque from his induction to their hall of fame at Northern Michigan college. He was a student from 1934-1938 and a star athlete in football, basketball and track. He is also my Godfather.

More photos here


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