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June 15th 2008

Rich and colorful opening ceremonies

It was an emotional moment for Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec City and host of the Congress, as he welcomed pilgrims from around the world as well as representatives from civil society. After speeches from the assembled dignitaries, in a message from the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, papal legate Josef Cardinal Tomko declared the 49 International Eucharistic Congress open.

A historical epic performance

A creative historical presentation on the great founders of the Quebec Catholic Church including François de Laval, Marie de l’Incarnation, and Catherine de Saint-Augustin brought home to those present that the history of Quebec City’s founding 400 years ago was also in large measure the establishment of the Catholic Church in North America.

The Ark of the New Covenant

The arrival of God’s Word carried on the Ark of the New Covenant was an emotional moment. Since its construction and blessing by the Holy Father in May 2006, the Ark of the New Covenant has been symbolic, for Canadian youth in particular, of progress toward the Congress. At the end of its journey over many thousands of kilometers, it was welcomed by the pilgrims gathered at Colisée Pepsi, many of whom had hailed its passage through their parishes long ago. The Ark was the bearer of the book of the Word of God, which was placed in the middle of the altar as a sign that this Word is the foundation of the Catholic Faith.        

The opening Eucharistic celebration

The Eucharist has brought together Catholics for over 2,000 years and constituted the summit of the opening celebration. The celebration in its entirety served to remind all present not only that Christ calls us together from every corner of the globe, but that French-speaking Quebec is the place that receives them. Together, cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, those in religious orders, and laypeople form one body in Christ. Backed up by an impressive choir of several hundred voices, the congregation sang and praised the Lord in many languages to music written in large part by Quebec City composer Denis Bédard.

Procession and inauguration of adoration sites

Following the Eucharistic celebration, the Blessed Sacrament was placed in the Ark of the New Covenant to be carried in a beautiful procession to various sites, where adoration will be ongoing throughout the Congress. Moved by their desire to promote Eucharistic adoration and make it available to as many people as possible, the organizers of the 49th International Eucharistic Congress have made adoration a large part of the programming, both in terms of time and locations. Eight official sites have been established—Nouvelle Alliance and Gift of God chapels in the Eucharistic City (ExpoCité), and Très-Saint-Sacrament Church, Mont Thabor Chapel, Saint-Yves Church, the chapel of Maison Mère-Mallet, the chapel of Pavillon Colin, and Saint-Jeanne d’Arc Church throughout Quebec City and surrounding area.

Conclusion of the celebrations

After the departure of the Ark, the assembled crowd in Colisée Pepsi continued its joyful celebrations with a performance by Gen Verde, a group of women religious who came all the way from Italy to dance, play, and sing for the Congress pilgrims to the glory of the Risen One.

The energy and enthusiasm manifested by the throng of Congress pilgrims, come from throughout the world to spend a week deepening their faith, confirms to the organizers of the 2008 Quebec City International Eucharistic Congress that this event will leave its mark on the history of Quebec City’s 400th anniversary celebrations. In this festive spirit, event chair Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec City and primate of Canada, invites all the people of Quebec to come share in the celebration of the Eucharistic Festival, continuing through June 22 on the site of the Eucharistic City (Expocité) and throughout the Quebec City area. 

© 2008 International Eucharistic Congress