Thousands of young people from Catholic high schools and parishes throughout the eight-county Diocese of Cleveland gathered at the historic Cleveland Public Auditorium on Nov. 1 for a Eucharistic Revival Rally and Mass.
Bishop Edward Malesic was the principal celebrant. Auxiliary Bishop Michael Woost and Bishop Martin Amos, retired bishop of Davenport, Iowa, as well as several priests concelebrated the liturgy with several deacons assisting.
“This event was one of the largest gatherings of Catholic high school teens in the history of our diocese,” said Francine Costantini, director of youth ministry for the diocese. “During this National Eucharistic Revival, Bishop Malesic wanted to gather the young Church around the table of the Lord.”
(See photo gallery above. Click here for a highlight video)
The day began with volunteers – including diocesan staff members and seminarians – greeting the students as they entered the hall. Catholic speaker Chika Anyanwu delivered a keynote address. In addition, there were videos, games, teen witness and praise and worship to begin the rally. Music was provided by Damascus Worship, a nationally known worship music group that includes some members from Cleveland. Students found a rally towel with an inspirational quote from Blessed Carlo Acutis on their chairs.
Highlight of the event was Mass for the feast of All Saints.
“It is good to be with you today,” Bishop Malesic told the enthusiastic assembly. “You are the Church that is young, vibrant and still growing. On All Saints Day, we are reminded that we are growing and going on a journey to a place where saints live. We were meant to live with the saints, too. All of us,” he said.
The bishop told the young people they were gathered together to be used in their faith that with God all things are possible, even eternal life. He said they were called by Jesus to follow him to salvation, even in a world that sometimes seems hopeless.
The Mass provides a foretaste of heaven, an opportunity to “be part of a faithful and joyful community, not online, but in person, in the flesh. To experience the real presence of real people together. To experience the real presence of God together … In all our diversity – and we are each unique – we are still one body, one body in Christ, And each one of us is loved by the God who made us. Not one of you, not one of your classmates, not anyone you know is excluded from God’s love. He wants the very best for you; he wants you to be saints,” the bishop said. Even with all our flaws, God can draw us together in his great love for us as individuals and as Church.
Although they come from different neighborhoods, parishes, schools, backgrounds, etc., Bishop Malesic reminded the young people they are brothers and sisters, part of the human family and God’s family, made in his image and likeness.
He connected some of the famous people who have appeared on stage in the auditorium – including Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Supremes, Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones – with the Supreme Being who was present on the stage that morning.
“Today, the God of the universe, the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, the Alpha and the Omega, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world will make himself present on this stage. But he won’t do so like a rock star or a rap star with all the glitz and glamour. No. He’ll come like he always does, in a humble, unassuming way, like he did 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem,” the bishop said.
He asked the young people to give who they are to Jesus because he accepts them as they are. “But then wait for the transformation to happen.” That will occur during the Mass when all the angels and saints in heaven come down to the altar and the congregation rises a bit to heaven. At the altar, heaven and earth will be joined in a sacramental way.
“And then the bread will become the body of Christ and the wine will become his blood. And his body and blood, his true presence, will not remain up here, but he will come humbly to you. He will give you himself in the Eucharist to be in Holy Communion with you. Here, Jesus will embrace you with his precious love. Embrace him back with your love,” Bishop Malesic said.
He also encouraged the students to take Jesus with them back out to the world.
“I hope you felt welcomed the moment you walked through the doors and that you always feel welcome in the Church which is your spiritual home … I hope you that you’ve experienced God in a way that has brought you comfort and assured you that you matter, that you are good and that you are loved – all of you. God loves you. The Church loves you. I love you. No exceptions,” the bishop said.
Bishops Malesic, Woost and Amos greeted students and posed for photos after the liturgy. Sandwiches were distributed as the students boarded their buses to return to their schools.
Downtown streets were closed to accommodate the more than 70 buses and additional vehicles that brought the students to the event.
Click here to view a video from the event.