Eucharistic mission: a call to reach out

Father Frank DiSiano, CSP, left, led a three-day eucharistic mission at St. James Parish in Washington earlier this month. Parishioners, right, annointed each other’s hands on the final day.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

WASHINGTON — “Remember the power of the Holy Spirit,” members of St. James Parish said while anointing each other’s hands. The call to action capped a three-day eucharistic mission at the parish with Father Frank DiSiano, CSP, earlier this month. “The anointing ritual is to remind Catholics of the power of the Spirit who helps us, together, to be a servant community of disciples,” he told The Catholic Messenger in a later interview. 

The Paulist priest is one of 50 National Eucharistic Preachers commissioned to prepare Catholics for the upcoming National Eucharistic Revival by guiding hearts to individual conversion.

The parish selected Father DiSiano, in part, because of his ability to speak in English and Spanish, said lay leader Margaret Marie. Father DiSiano presided at the Spanish Mass March 3 and conversed with Spanish-speaking parishioners afterward. He offered the three evening presentations in English. About one-third to one-half of active parishioners participated, Marie said.


Father DiSiano used the structure of the Mass to help mission participants “see what it means to be ‘eucharistic people,’ believers who have the Mass at the heart of what we are,” he said. The first presentation explored the Liturgy of the Word. The purpose of the readings is to “hear Christ calling us to follow him in our daily lives” through conversion and discipleship, Father DiSiano said.

The second presentation focused on the Mass as a response to the Word of God. It is “saying we believe, we give our resources, we praise God through Jesus, we are united with Christ himself in Communion and we are sent forth as servant disciples from the Mass into the world.” The final talk focused on Jesus’ call to service. In addition to the talks, Father DiSiano visited youths in religious education classrooms and shared insights about the Eucharist and the purpose of the parish mission.

The parish’s revival committee was touched by Father DiSianos’ call to reach out. Catholics are called to evangelize inside and outside church walls “by being kind and loving, not just preaching,” Marie said. Parish Secretary Genoveva Diaz said the mission, especially the anointing ritual, inspired her to “go and do more.”

Now parishioners are working to channel the energy of the mission into parish life. Many parishioners enjoyed participating in eucharistic adoration during the mission, so the parish is working to expand adoration hours during Holy Week to accommodate people who work during the day.

Many parishioners expressed interest in serving as a greeter during Mass, Marie said. Conversations with parishioners are ongoing as to how the parish will keep up the momentum. “There is no definite direction yet.”

Father DiSiano told The Catholic Messenger he enjoyed his first visit to small-town Iowa. “I stayed near the central square, which must be famous in much of Iowa. What a delight to prepare my evening talks walking around the square and the town; it was a place where ‘everyone said hello,’ in good Midwestern fashion, and not like New York City, where I am from.” The parish’s energy inspired him. “At St. James I had an opportunity to see, yet again, how vibrant our Catholic faith is today.”

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