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The Eucharistic Congress: what we know so far

Ireland is hosting the 50th annual event for the first time since 1932. So, what will go down?

Boys of the Palestina Choir are to perform at the Congress
Boys of the Palestina Choir are to perform at the Congress
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

ALTHOUGH THE POPE is unlikely to make an appearance, organisers of the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) still expect the participation of tens of thousands of people at the Catholic Church’s festival.

Many details of the eight-day-long event have already been released, with around 25,000 people a day expected to visit Dublin.

The programme will culminate in a massive gathering at a full Croke Park on 17 June. Organisers believe more than 80,000 people will turn up to celebrate the Final Mass.

About 12,000 international pilgrims from at least 95 different countries will descend on Ireland’s capital for the week-long festival of faith. For the occasion, the Royal Dublin Society in Ballsbridge will be transformed into a Eucharistic Village, including a liturgy, prayer space and more than 100 exhibition stands.

The religious festival’s opening ceremony will be also be held at the Dublin 4 venue on 10 June. There will be 18 keynote addresses given by international speakers and over 150 workshops and discussion groups held over the eight days.

Masses, prayers and liturgical celebrations will be said in seven languages and immediate translations will be available.

The congress, which takes place just every four years, aims to promote an awareness of the Eucharist as a centrepiece of the life and mission of the Catholic Church. The most recent congresses took place in Quebec in 2008 and Guadalajara in 2004.

The first and last time that Dublin hosted the event was in 1932. The theme for Ireland’s congress this time around is The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with one Another.

As well as the festival goers, there will be between 2,000 and 3,000 volunteers working in Dublin from 10 to 17 June.

The congress’ version of the Olympic torch, the Eucharistic Bell, accompanied by four icons will also feature prominently in the celebrations as they journey through Ireland on their own pilgrimage.

The Eucharistic Congress Bell pilgrimage to St Senan’s Church, Enniscorthy. Image: IEC2012 via Facebook

IEC2012 organisers are hoping for about 2,500 young people (under the age of 25) to participate in activities such as workshops, dramas, interactive catechesis, concerts, games and art.

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The youth programme, called Go! Be Church!, was launched yesterday and Bishop Donal McKeown, Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor said the congress gives the people of Ireland a chance to “pause and reflect on the deep human hunger for meaning, love, God, healing and communion”.

Although the Congress clashes with the Euro 2012 football championships, IEC2012 worshippers won’t miss Ireland’s games as action from the tournament will be streamed live on big screens at the RDS.

The number of people expected to travel are large for 2012 but nothing compared to the one million people who turned up for the 1932 final mass in the Phoenix Park during which Pope Pius XI addressed the people of Ireland from his library in the Vatican.

Earlier this month, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that Ireland would welcome a visit by Pope Benedict XVI with the “proper decorum in respect of his position and his status”. The Vatican is currently considering the invitation.

Tickets are available online in advance for the Congress and range from €95 for a seven-day pass to €30 for one day’s entry.

More: Poll: Would you welcome a visit by the Pope?>

Read: Ireland matches to be screened for faithful fans at Eucharistic Congress>

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