For the Eucharistic Congress, we have reserved facilities at the BJCC, Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center. For those looking to stay overnight from Friday to Saturday, the Sheraton Hotel has sustained damage to many rooms and is now full, but there are still rooms available at the Westin Downtown. The Redmont is also a short walk away from the BJCC. There are now group rates or reserved blocks, so simply book through your favorite travel provider or through the hotel directly. For those who don’t mind driving a few minutes to save a few dollars, there are several hotel options in Fultondale right off Route 65, with lots of breakfast options.
The large conferences on Friday evening and Saturday, the Spanish language track, as well as the Closing Mass, will be in the North Exhibit hall, the largest exhibit hall. A portion of that room will also be reserved for our Vendor Exhibit Hall. There will be booths from local apostolates and religious communities, as well as organizations and vendors form around the country. The adjacent large convention room, the South Exhibit Hall, will host our Youth Track. The BJCC Concert Hall, arguably the most beautiful space in the complex, will host the Apostolic Nuncio’s address to the English-speaking crowd, as well as Dr Scott Hahn’s breakout session. Breakout sessions and the Children’s Track will be just a short trip up the escalators in the North Meeting Rooms. All this is to say, we have room for A LOT OF PEOPLE!
Which brings us to the next point: we need to go out into the highways and byways, as Jesus says, as invite people in to the celebration! Flyers have been emailed out to your parishes and are available on BHMCatholic.com. Posters and prayer cards are being distributed among all the parishes as well. A stack of snappy, attractive blank postcards will be delivered to your church for you to mail to friends, neighbors, relatives, fallen-away Catholics, or anyone you’d like to invite. The Eucharistic Congress is supposed to be a public gathering which demonstrates our love for Jesus truly present in the Eucharist; but it can only be public if we invite people to be present! Wonderful talks, beautiful music, and the opportunity to be together with thousands for a special Holy Mass are very nice ideas, but they will only provide the maximum impact if we all share them together. So please, let’s all mark our calendars, and start inviting!
Perhaps, you might be someone who is still struggling to understand what “Eucharistic Congress” means and don’t know what to expect. Bishop Baker is encouraging you to, “Come and see!” Aside from the beautiful tradition of venerating and learning about the Eucharist, and the impressive candlelight procession Friday night, this Congress also falls on the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of our Diocese. And in the words of Fr Joe Culotta of St Mark’s, “Everyone knows that a 50th anniversary is something to celebrate!”
Many of us in this Diocese receive postcards, mailers, and personal invitations to events at the local churches of other Christian denominations. They want to make sure we know we are welcome. It is time for us to do the same!