IIC 141: Integrated Personal Formation at the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress


Tim Glemkowski and Joel Stepanek, key planners and executives for the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress, join Dr. Peter Malinoski on this episode to continue our series on integrated personal formation and discuss the kind of transformation you can expect at the NEC, as well as what you can do to prepare for it, both in the natural and spiritual realms. We explore how the four dimensions of Catholic personal formation — human, intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral — are incorporated into the NEC revival sessions, impact sessions, breakouts, exhibits, and all the other offerings. Finally, Joel and Tim offer you suggestions to help you get the most out of this experience whether you attend in person or virtually.


Dr. Peter: [00:00:00] You growing. You flourishing. Your personal formation. That’s what we have been diving into over the last eight episodes in this series. We have been exploring with Catholic thought leaders the why and the what of integrating the four dimensions of formation — human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral dimensions, the dimensions that Saint John Paul II described in 1992 in Pastores Dabo Vobis. And now we are getting into the how, the actual practice of integrated formation in daily life. I am Dr. Peter Malinoski, also known as Dr. Peter. I am your host and guide in this Interior Integration for Catholics podcast, and I am so glad to be with you. I’m a clinical psychologist, a trauma therapist, a podcaster, a writer, and the co-founder and president of Souls and Hearts. But most of all, I am a beloved little Son of God, a passionate Catholic who wants to help you to taste and see the height and depth and breadth and warmth and the light of the love of God, especially God your father, but also Mary, your mother, your spiritual parents, your primary parents. I am here to help you embrace your identity as a beloved little child of God and Mary. That is what this podcast is all about. That is what this episode is all about. This is episode number 141 titled Integrated Personal Formation at the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress, and it is released on July 1st, 2024. So let’s do this together.

Dr. Peter: [00:01:53] 83 years. 83 years. More than three generations. That is how long it has been since the United States has experienced a Eucharistic Congress. Not since June of 1941. Not since before the bombs rained down on Pearl Harbor. Not since the defeat of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi war machine in World War II. And now we’re just about two weeks away from this historic event, what is being called a pivotal moment in the history of the Catholic Church in America. 45,000 Catholic pilgrims, maybe 50,000, are expected to converge here, here in Indianapolis, Indiana, my town, from July 17th to the 21st, for the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress, for the healing of ourselves, our nation, and our world through an intimate, personal encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. And as the US Catholic bishops made clear in the Program for Priestly Formation, sixth edition, in paragraph 181, “The foundation and center of all human formation is the word made flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ. In his fully developed humanity, he was truly free and with complete freedom gave himself totally for the salvation of the world.” That’s paragraph 181. And in this 2024 Eucharistic Congress, it’s an opportunity for our personal formation, our human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation according to how Saint John Paul II laid out the dimensions of formation in his 1992 apostolic exhortation. That again, Pastores Dabo Vobis, I will give you shepherds.

Dr. Peter: [00:03:29] So whether you are coming in person, and I hope you are, or whether you take this in through online streaming, through EWTN or other media outlets, we are going to cover what you need to know about the Congress and what you need to know about your human formation, your spiritual formation, your intellectual formation, your pastoral formation. Pope Benedict XVI said that, “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” And he also said, “Christianity is not an intellectual system, a collection of dogmas or a moralism. Christianity is an encounter. A love story. It is an event.” And today, I am honored to have two of the major people behind and in front of the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress with me today, on episode 141 of this Interior Integration for Catholics podcast, the episode titled Your Personal Formation at the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress. They’re going to help us understand how the Congress can form us into the Christians, into the Catholics that we are called to be. So let’s get ready to see how this Eucharistic Congress can make a lasting difference in our lives, how the experience of this event, this moment, this relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist can transform us to be the men and women we are called to be.

Dr. Peter: [00:04:58] How this experience can help us embrace our identity as beloved little sons and daughters of God, and allow God to live and grow within us. And so. I am so glad to introduce, first of all, Tim Glemkowski. Tim is the Chief Executive officer of the National Eucharistic Congress in 2024. He has this massive responsibility to manage all those that are coming. And most recently, he was the Director of Strategy in the Archbishop’s Office for the Archdiocese of Denver, assisting with initiatives focused on building for a time of apostolic mission. He’s the former founder and the president of L’Alto Catholic Institute and revived parishes. Tim authored the 2019 book, Made for Mission: Renewing Your Parish Culture, which was released in the fall of 2019 through Our Sunday Visitor. Tim is also a writer, with his articles appearing in a variety of print and web based theological and catechetical publications, and he’s an international speaker on Catholic topics. He’s consulted for many organizations, dioceses and parishes over the years, and he, with his wife Maggie, live in Lakewood, Colorado with their four young children. So, Tim, I am super excited to have you on today with me. What an honor. What a pleasure to have you with us.

Tim Glemkowski: [00:06:13] No, it’s so good to be with you. Thanks for having me.

Dr. Peter: [00:06:16] And I’m also really glad. And I asked for both of these guys, right. I asked for Joel Stepanek to be with us today too. Joel has been actively and passionately involved in ministry for more than 15 years. Joel received his master’s degree in Religious Education with an emphasis in youth and young adult ministry from Fordham. He’s traveled across the world speaking to groups of all sizes, ages, and vocations, with a particular emphasis on youth ministry. He’s the author of a number of books, including Chasing Humility: Eight Ways to Shape a Christian Heart. Just love the title of that, shaping hearts, right. And then XY: An Authentic Masculine Identity, True North: A Roadmap for Discernment, and Getting More Out of Confession. He’s also written The Greatest Job on Earth: The Seven Virtues of an Awesome Youth Minister, and he’s the coauthor of The 99, which is an evangelization program from Ascension. In his new position, he’s privileged to mobilize Catholics in the United States on a mission through a renewed encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist. He and his wife, Colleen, live in Phoenix, Arizona, with their three young children. So, I am super excited to have you with us. Joel, thank you for being here.

Joel Stepaneck: [00:07:27] It’s great to be here. Thank you, Dr. Peter.

Dr. Peter: [00:07:29] All right. So let’s cut ahead and open this up. I’m going to just open with a quote from the 2024 NEC website. It says, “Come in faith. Leave with hope. God hears our prayers for the renewal of the church. He will answer them through a life-changing transformation of our own hearts. The 10th National Eucharistic Congress is an invitation to experience profound personal revival so we can be sent out to share Christ’s love with a world that so desperately needs it.” All right. So I want to open this up with this question. This language of a life-changing transformation of our own hearts appeals to me. It speaks to me. I really like it. Transformation. That speaks to this personal transformation. So I want you to tell me how that transformation will happen for those who engage in the 2024 NEC. What are the means and how will that transformation happen in each of these four dimensions, right? Breaking it out into human formation, spiritual formation, intellectual formation, pastoral formation, however you guys want to go with that. I am super excited to hear what you have to say about it.

Joel Stepaneck: [00:08:41] Yeah, I can lead into that one a bit. I think one of the things that is going to be powerful, just because of the nature of the event itself, is the fact that 50,000 people will gather and walk through those doors at Lucas Oil Stadium for an encounter together as a church. I think that in our country, we have a wonderful conference culture where Catholics gather from different groups together. Women’s conferences, men’s conferences, a great history of youth conferences. Focus does a wonderful work with young adult conferences. So we have these experiences for different groups within the Catholic Church. But because it’s been 83 years since we’ve had a National Eucharistic Congress, there has not been something where everybody comes together under one roof. And, at a session, you could have a five-year-old and a 95-year-old or 105-year-old in the same room, praying and worshiping outside of a Sunday Mass at your parish. So there’s this really unique experience that everybody’s going to have when we arrive in Indianapolis together. And we are petitioning the Lord for revival. Together, we are being formed together, we’re seeking healing together. And I think that in and of itself is going to be a powerfully transformative moment for everybody there, when suddenly it’s not just my parish in my town, which has its ups and its downs. It’s not just my particular group and demographic within the church. It’s all of us. And I think that moment, the moment I have in my head, honestly, is the last Mass on Sunday morning when we are singing that closing hymn. I think people are going to stop for just a second once it’s all done and say, “Something has happened here, it’ll take years to unpack it, but I am not the same.”

Dr. Peter: [00:10:24] I’m reminded of, well, it’s a little bit of a riff, right? But wherever 20 or 30,000 are gathered in my name, right, you know.

Joel Stepaneck: [00:10:31] I think that’s the quote, right.

Dr. Peter: [00:10:34] Right. Yeah. I can sense that power. Tim, what have you got for us on that? Like, what are your thoughts about how this is going to lead to that integrated human formation inside for people?

Tim Glemkowski: [00:10:46] Yeah, I think the story of the Congress always has to find itself within the broader revival. You know, the early study from the Pew group showed that something like 30% of all Catholics, right, anyone who self-identifies as Catholic, believed in the real presence. More recent studies have shown better news for Mass-going Catholics, Catholics that regularly attend Mass more than once a year. It’s something more like two thirds. But either way, the reality is that that personal encounter, like you said, the event of Christianity, when God becomes a person and not just an idea, that then becomes walked out into decision of my life to live the transformation that Jesus and the Eucharist offers. For me, that’s been the story of the Eucharistic revival. And so in an event, we’re trying to capture that experience for the church, show the church what that looks like, to actually offer an experience of transformation. I think we’re in a moment right now where the church is transitioning from a kind of open the doors and let the people in who want to come in, and realizing that we need to open the doors and go out on mission and actually proclaim the gospel to people who maybe think they know what Christianity is and think they don’t have time for it, or have never heard the full gospel, or even increasingly, I think, haven’t really encountered, you know, a credible sort of proclamation of the event of Christianity.

Tim Glemkowski: [00:11:58] And so this Congress, what it is, is, in a moment, the 45, 50,000 gathering on behalf of the entire church. Yeah, like Joel said, to do more than maybe just come and have a nice experience of a conference or a, you know, something we can walk away from and be kind of excited about. But to really appeal to God, to send out his Spirit and renew the church again in a new way. That’s why we signed up for this mission, is we see this as a historic moment for the church of the United States, sort of a flag in the ground for the church moving to mission and proclaiming in an action over five days of the church with this pilgrimage for two months leading up to it, to sort of say, “Lord, we’ve been fishing all night and we’re ready for you to show us where to drop our nets.”

Dr. Peter: [00:12:40] So it is also, in some ways, a symbol, in some ways a plea, right, to our Lord to help us, right, and to move us forward. How else would you characterize it? A call. Yeah, I mean, just curious about like, especially with regard to the individual heart, like, I mean, how do you imagine our Lord individually reaching out to the heart of a member that comes to this Congress?

Tim Glemkowski: [00:13:06] I think I could speak there because I’m not the one who designed it as much as Joel was. But to give Joel and his team credit, a programming team, sort of, he brought together a committee of a lot of different, diverse voices within the church who have a lot of experience in formation to really craft pedagogically a story of an event that really leads from, you know, an initial encounter. Thursday night, Fr. Mike Schmitz is going to offer a talk to us, really, again, putting the kerygma, the gospel, in front of us and inviting us to respond in a new way. Then Friday, all day, you know, each session, kind of the culminating moment, these revival sessions in the stadium. Friday, really being focused on both individual and corporate healing as a church. So like once you’ve apprehended that the Lord is who he says he is, then really starting to dig deep into what that means for how my experience of the world or the church is sort of travailing in the world, how that’s impacted us in various different ways and begin to just kind of unpack some of those areas. And then Saturday is really focused on the communion of the church, how the Eucharist confects that communion, and then how that communion is actually a challenge of conversion put in front of us. Something that we have to live and decide to live again, broadly, universally, as a church and also in our communities, in our families. And then Sunday is really about the missionary sending of the church to the United States. So Cardinal Tagle is going to join us as the papal delegate. Pope Francis appointed him to the Congress. He’s going to celebrate that Mass, and it’s going to be preceded by an invitation to a new Pentecost, the Holy Spirit to fall on the church in the United States.

Tim Glemkowski: [00:14:31] So what we’re trying to do is wherever anyone comes to us, right, if they’re kind of yearning for mission in a different, deeper way, if they’re needing some personal healing or a deeper moment of refreshment themselves or even those who kind of need to just come back to that first encounter, maybe for the first time or for a new time, really are lead, not so much kind of just like a bunch of different talks that are interesting on different, you know, catechetical topics having to do with the Eucharist, but in an experience of sort of the fullness of what we’d call the Catechumen model, right, is what it’s built on. This model that we lead the initiated into, you know, who are baptized at Easter, leading them through kind of the full process to see, at least what the full journey of the Christian life is supposed to be, which is to be with Jesus. In light of that being with Jesus, to be healed in that encounter, to live out that encounter and communion with others who are running after the same goal as us. But then not to just keep that to myself, but we’ve been appointed to bear fruit and so to go bear fruit. So it’s really going to be I think the story or the narrative behind this, the narrative arc of it, is going to be an incredible experience. But I think it’s also supposed to be instructive for the church. I think there is part of the experience here, if I can be so bold as to say that we’re trying to hold up to the church, sort of that model for evangelization in a moment.

Dr. Peter: [00:15:43] Beautiful. Now, I’m going to ask you to add to that, Joel, what do you got for us on this? What comes to you?

Joel Stepaneck: [00:15:48] I think part of the nature of the experience is that we are trying to help people fall back in love with Jesus, and I’ve been thinking a lot about this, especially as the different studies have been released. And there’s, you know, one study saying a third of Catholics and a new study, you know, has more hopeful numbers for Mass-going Catholics like Tim had mentioned. And I think that sometimes when we look at the event, you know, one criticism, at least, that I’ve heard is, well, this is just sort of preaching to the choir, you know, like people who are going — they already believe in, they’re part of that group that says, “Yeah, I believe that Jesus Christ is present body, blood, soul and divinity in the Blessed Sacrament.” And sort of like, what is the revival necessary for? In the Wednesday night keynote, Sister Bethany Madonna is going to talk initially about how, you know, even in this stadium full of 45,000 people, the Lord desires an individual encounter with each of us. He’s leading us as he led Israel back out into the wilderness, into the desert, to to find us again, to help us fall in love again.

Joel Stepaneck: [00:16:45] And that’s where I think things maybe get mischaracterized a bit in why this moment can be so important, and the revival as a movement is so important. Because if you ask me, do you love your wife? I’d be like, yeah, I love my wife. In fact, if you asked a lot of people if they loved their spouse, they’ll say, I love my spouse. But that’s a different question to say, are you in love with your spouse? Do you do the things that love demands in your relationship? Is there a fire there, a passion there, a deep and abiding presence there? And that’s a different question altogether. So when you ask Catholics, do you believe in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the in the Blessed Sacrament? Many people may say, yes, I do, but then you have to ask the next question, what does that compel you to do, right? What does that love inside of you push you out of the doors to do? And that’s a different question altogether. And that’s where the revival really begins. As Tim said, holding something up to the church as a model for evangelization, that we become so inflamed with love for the Eucharist that we can’t help but bust down the doors and go out to those who have walked away from the church, to those who don’t know, to those who are seeking and lost, and those on the peripheries and the margins and those in socially disadvantaged situations, the Eucharist compels us to do all of that, but only if we go beyond the head belief of “yeah, yeah, the Eucharist is Jesus” to, and because of that, “I’m called to a deeper mission.”

Joel Stepaneck: [00:18:05] And so this moment within the movement is about a personal encounter for every person there to revive their love of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, to the extent that they are excited, busting down the doors to go back to their communities and their parishes and their homes, and share this incredible gift of a person with those around them. And I think that there’s an important distinction, because that’s what revival is. It’s not, hey, this is a marketing campaign to bring people back to church. It’s saying, how do we, as a church, live this love so passionately and revive our love for the Lord, that other people can’t help but take notice and we can’t help but go out and share it?

Tim Glemkowski: [00:18:44] Yeah, I just think as a church, we’ve lost sight of sort of the logic of God, which is in the 50,000 people who are going to attend the Congress, there’s enough raw material there for God to transform the church in the United States. As a church, we look at big statistics and broad numbers and cultural trends. And what was it, John Vianney, this story is coming to mind where the devil said, if there were just three priests like you in the world, my whole kingdom would be… I think that’s the reality is, like if five people who are at the Congress became great saints and this was a catalyst in their life to doing that, the world would never be the same, right? Five John Paul’s, five blessed Carlo Acutis’s, five Mother Teresa’s, five Michelle Du Pong’s. Like that’s the gospel, right? Where the mustard seed, the grain of wheat. And so I think there’s a moment here to reflect on in a lot of different things like, yeah, one, the difference between sort of what John Henry Newman would call notional or real assent, assent to an idea, I can like re-articulate the doctrine of the church, versus a real assent that’s a gift of my life that I give in light of something that I perceive to be true. Like the way I give assent to the goodness of my daughter is different than the way I give assent to the goodness of a math theorem.

Tim Glemkowski: [00:19:54] And there’s a lot of Catholics that are still living the faith like it’s a math problem, and not like it’s a love relationship where the goodness of my daughter causes me, right, to want to give my entire life for her. And that should be normative Christianity. That shouldn’t be like the extraordinary few who sort of, you know, have the curtains opened to the… Like that’s what it means to be Catholic. And that’s a story that we have to get in front of the church again in a new way is especially in this day and age when the world is hurting in such an extraordinary way. God is likely, in all likelihood, wanting to send a movement of renewal in our time, and that renewal is not going to come through strategic plans or through big, broad, kind of flashy initiatives. But it’s going to come because people are God’s plan for the renewal of the church, right? Individual lives that he wants to arrest to himself. And so, and that’s what we’re trying to do, right? That’s what this Congress is, and it’s trying to show. And I think, like Joel said, it’s hard for people to wrap their minds around what a national Congress means or what its intention is. But I think on Sunday afternoon after the Congress, there’s not going to be as much doubt anymore.

Dr. Peter: [00:20:58] So I’m seeing sort of a couple of things. One is this theme of integration, right? Which this podcast is just huge on integration. Interior integration can’t just be in the head, right. It’s got to be in the heart. It’s got to be throughout all of our being, right. And that includes this affective or emotional component, that it’s not just a math theorem, right? That this is a love relationship. This is an encounter. And so I love hearing that. And then I’m also hearing this theme that there’s a progression. And I’m sort of starting to think of this as the very end of the progression that we were talking about, the sending of forth, the Sunday Mass, the last song, that that’s like right into pastoral formation. And I’m hearing a lot about like sort of the human formation when we’re talking about the woundedness, right. People that have sustained wounds and need healing. And then I’m hearing about this spiritual formation when we are actually in that encounter with our God. And I’m hearing about intellectual formation because there’s going to be a pedagogical or didactic aspect of this woven throughout the Congress. So I’m just really curious about like, that seems like it was by design, Joel, like you discussed that as being sort of by design, at least the progression to the sending forth.

Joel Stepaneck: [00:22:06] Yeah, it was. In fact, in our early planning documents, we designated sessions with those four pillars. So for a breakout we said, which one of these will this really be touching on as far as the revival sessions or the impact sessions, you know, which area will this really touch on? So in our planning, we were mindful of human, pastoral, spiritual and intellectual formation throughout the entirety of the event. So much so that we labeled things with those pillars so that we would know how are we hitting these places and making sure that we’re really integrating a full person through this conference. So yeah, it is very much by design, very much intentional.

Dr. Peter: [00:22:42] That is wonderful. Now, I mean, is there a way to kind of track this? Because I was looking through the schedule and if you look through the schedule, there’s a lot going on, right? There’s a lot of things happening in the schedule, but is there a way to sort of, if somebody says, you know what, I’m really struggling with human formation. I know I’ve got some human formation issues or I really need to work on spiritual formation, or maybe somebody’s coming along and they said, pastoral formation, that’s where it’s at. Is there a way to sort of discern that or detect that within the different tracks?

Joel Stepaneck: [00:23:09] I think as you look at the schedule, most of the titles for breakouts will lend themselves to that, and you’ll be able to say pretty quickly, oh, that, you know, “Defending Against Fundamentalist Attacks on the Eucharist” is very intellectual formation, right? You know, and so I think people can discern that throughout the impact sessions and the evening revival sessions, those are the large sessions that everybody will attend. Those themes are woven throughout. And you would hit on a couple of them on Friday. We’re very much talking about human formation and what it means to experience healing, spiritual healing, emotional healing, and why that’s so critical to us as a church and as individuals. You know, throughout those sessions, especially in the morning, there’s a lot of intellectual formation. So the impact sessions that people go to really are focused on how do we teach some of these pieces. And then in the evening, every evening includes like a heavy section of prayer for that spiritual formation component. And then on the last couple of days, there’s tons of pastoral formation. So as people go through those main sessions, they’ll get all that. And then the breakouts, I think, are fairly simple to discern as you look at it.

Dr. Peter: [00:24:10] So how would you answer a skeptic, maybe a cynic, a cynical Catholic who says, okay. This is going to be a lot of hype. This is going to be a lot of emotional stuff. This is going to be a lot of, kind of maybe even groupthink. A lot of dynamics here that are designed, you’re in a stadium, you know, where, yeah, there can be sort of a contagion of intensity inside. But it’s all a tempest in a teapot. It’s all going to blow over. It’s not going to last because it’s too temporary, it’s too fluffy. It’s not grounded in something, you know, deeper or more continuous. I mean, I’m just curious about, you know, somebody that says this is going to be like an Amway conference, you know, like, how do we counter that? How do we understand it differently, you know, kind of taking out those psychological or those other types of factors that people could attribute, you know, the intensity of the Congress to?

Tim Glemkowski: [00:25:09] Yeah, I think again, I’d go back to the Congress is a moment in the movement, right. So there’s a three year Eucharistic revival, a two month Eucharistic pilgrimage, and then a five day congress that is in total, an initiative of the church to put a vision in front of her for coming back to the heart of Jesus. In the midst of the manifold challenges in front of the world, the myriad things we could focus on, we’re choosing to say in sort of a very like authentic and real way for the church to be renewed in her heart and in her foundation, which is Jesus and the Eucharist and the relationship that exists there between the human heart and him. That’s what we want to just, that’s the clarion call we want to put in front of the church for three years. So I’d say you can’t understand the Congress without understanding the broader revival and the deep sort of liturgical and catechetical and missional renewal that is really been supposed to underpin the diocesan, the parish year and then leading into the year of mission, sort of the continued formation that’s going to take place. The Congress comes at the beginning of the third year of the revival. So there’s a whole other year of this where we want to go deeper, and we’re creating a platform of formation to take Eucharistic missionaries deeper.

Tim Glemkowski: [00:26:16] There was a book that just came out from Bishop Cousins and I, that’s sort of the backbone of the initial course. That’s going to be part of this Eucharistic missionary formation that really provides a deeper reflection on the charism of a Eucharistic missionary, and what it actually means to live out that relationship and its heart. So I’d really recommend that book as a deeper place to reflect on it. But again, I think, you know, that symphonic approach to evangelization is another one of the sort of lessons we’re trying to put in front of the church, which is to say, you find a lot of, I think in this age of the proliferation of lay apostolates, you find a lot of people, you know, I think you could say on the sort of more, the more positive way to put it is just a lot of people who are really passionate about their particular lens on what the church needs right now and what should be the pastoral priority of the church right now. And what we’re trying to say is it’s all relevant and it’s all important. Like that really beautiful liturgy that actually speaks clearly the mystery of Jesus and the Eucharist is important to the church’s work of evangelization and personal encounter and pastoral formation and mission, and the intellectual formation that helps us to actually see the credibility of the doctrines that we profess.

Tim Glemkowski: [00:27:19] So the Congress as an experience is going to do all of that, like the liturgies are going to be substantive and serious. It’s not like a rah rah rally. It’s an action of the church, a spiritual action of the church that’s going to have a lot of beauty and a lot of mystery and a lot of depth to the formation. Our biblical track with the Augustine Institute every afternoon, people can attend for multiple hours, sort of a chance to unpack the Bible and how it holds. So again, it’s hard to without having had a Eucharistic Congress in 50 years and then a national one in 83 years, it’s going to be hard for people to picture that practically. So you just got to come and see. That would be my invitation is if you’re skeptical, you’re the people we want there most because we know you’re going to have a powerful and meaningful time sort of participating in this unique gathering of the church.

Dr. Peter: [00:28:03] I love that challenge. I love that challenge. And so let’s say people can’t make it. Tell me a little bit more. I heard something about there’s some streaming options or EWTN is going to be covering this. So it’s not just, you’re out of luck if you can’t come to Indianapolis, there is some other way to participate?

Joel Stepaneck: [00:28:17] There is. So we have a couple of, you know, wonderful organizations that we’re working with who have been wonderful supports to the Congress. Relevant Radio and EWTN. I will be broadcasting sessions, so EWTN will be broadcasting several of the sessions from the Congress. Relevant Radio will be airing several of the sessions from the Congress, and then there will be livestreaming available on our website for those evening revival sessions. So if people aren’t able to make it, they can tune in to any one of those channels and be able to participate in that way. And then afterwards, we’ll have an opportunity for folks to grab even more of that content who weren’t at necessarily at the Congress and be able to participate after the fact.

Dr. Peter: [00:28:52] So we are 16 days out, when this releases, we’ll be 16 days out from the start of the Congress. So 16 days. What are your recommendations for those that want to participate in the Congress, either coming in person or participating, you know, virtually, what would be helpful to them to get ready?

Joel Stepaneck: [00:29:11] I would say you got 16 days left, so that’s enough time for a novena. I would say, really, I would say, pick your favorite novena and pray that leading up to the Congress. For two intentions, one for your own experience there and your own encounter with the Lord, that you would receive what you need. And for just the Congress in general. There’s tons of things on the unseen side of the event that are still going to be happening and need to happen in the next 16 days, and so we would humbly ask for your prayers for that so that we’re protected, we are clearheaded, we’re peaceful as we lead into this work that God has asked us to do. So I think that’s one thing that would be an easy reach. Just as people are preparing to go. A very spiritual ask.

Tim Glemkowski: [00:29:54] For me, I think the spiritual maxim that seems at play here is, “Come hungry, leave full.” Like we want the people who are coming to come hungry for revival in their own lives and for the church. And I think, you know, there’s no accident that Pentecost is preceded by this nine days of fasting and prayer. So I would recommend that people fast, and I would recommend that people pray and intercede. Even the pilgrimage that’s kind of the heart of it is, it’s an action of witness and of going out to the highways and the byways with Jesus and the Eucharist to invite that encounter with him. But it’s also intercession. We’re praying for the church as we go, kind of in cruciform fashion across the United States. So, yeah, attendees at the Congress, if you really want to get a lot out of this, I think you have to come hungry by really praying with us as we sort of seek the Lord in a new way.

Dr. Peter: [00:30:41] So let’s take it down to the natural level. We’ve got some spiritual recommendations. On the natural level, on the natural level, what can we do? I’m thinking about like at the level of just the natural human heart. I’m thinking about things like, openness, receptivity, something like that. You know, somewhere where we can be thinking about like just the raw kind of human experience. Is there something that we can be doing to prepare in terms of human formation?

Joel Stepaneck: [00:31:09] Yeah, I think one thing I would recommend people do — and maybe I’m speaking to myself, so I’ll speak to myself and then other people can relate to that or not — is when you enter a conference experience like this, we bring in a lot of expectations with us and sometimes some cynicism, both things. And so there may be people who are like me coming in with expectations for what we want this to be. Whether that is, I want this to be a life changing, transformative experience, that’s what I expect. Or I really want these masses to be a certain way, or I want this speaker to say a certain thing. That’s very human. We bring in expectations based on prior experiences to these events, and sometimes we bring in cynicism, too. We say, oh my gosh, everything’s going to be great, but I’m going to have to sit through that person or I really hope they don’t do this thing, because that’s just if that happens, I’m going to be so put off from this whole thing. If I may, I’ll share a really quick story of one of the biggest formative experiences I think I had as a young person, which has impacted me throughout my entire life. I went to a youth conference. It was a leadership conference when I was a sophomore in high school. And there’s like this whole back story to how I got there. But the point is, I wound up there not in a good place. I was angry, I was angsty, I was cynical, and everything that people said, I was like, “God, this is so ridiculous and so stupid.” And I was praying quietly to myself as I was frustrated. And a young Matt Maher was the musician at this conference. I remember praying distinctly, “Lord, I’m here for you. I’m doing a good thing. I don’t like this. I’m frustrated by this. I’m angry by this. So I’m going to make a request of you since I’m doing you a favor, you know, by being here. I do not want this one particular worship song played. I don’t like that song. It’s frustrating to me. It makes me angry. I think it’s stupid.” And 30 seconds after that prayer was done, that is the song that Matt played.

Joel Stepaneck: [00:33:06] There’s a moment there where I should have fallen on my knees and been like, “My Lord and my God, I’m sorry,” and have this repentant heart. Instead, I, like left the venue. I was like, I’m going back to my bunk for the night. I’m done. That’s so ridiculous. But we have moments sometimes where God can bring us this beautiful revelation of his reality. And in that moment, the Lord was like, in a very comical way, in hindsight, like, “I’m here and I’ve heard your prayer. Stop being so cynical. Why does that matter to you if that song is played?” And I think about that often when I enter into experiences like this of just, “Lord, I’m here for whatever you wish to give me, what you want to give me, but help checking my bias and checking my cynicism.” So if there’s somebody that I don’t particularly like, to say, “Lord, how can I hear you through that person?” Or if there’s a particular prayer that I’m not a fan of to say, “Lord, if we pray that prayer, help me to lean into it into a new way.” And so I think that’s what people could do ahead of time, is check your expectations and check your cynicism so that those things don’t get in the way of what the Lord is wanting to do.

Dr. Peter: [00:34:04] Beautiful, I love that, I love that, yeah, this idea of coming in with an agenda, a particular attachment to an outcome or attachment to a particular means or whatever, and being able to let that go to allow God to work in his way, right. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. And yeah, he’s got a vision for what this is supposed to be like for each person that’s going, each individual person going to this NEC. God’s got a plan for that. Like, sometimes I think we lose track of the personal aspect of this. And so yeah, everything that’s happening and it’s all coordinated amongst all the tens of thousands of people that are going to be there. His plan is going to be playing out and all things will be working together for good for those who love him. And so I’m really excited about that.

Tim Glemkowski: [00:34:46] Yeah. That’s right. I think one of the obstacles to receptivity, I think, for people as they encounter the Congress is that it was inaugurated by the bishops. And there’s a lot of hurt in the church right now, I think, with leadership. And I think it’s okay to just call that out and just say that that’s out there. We always say in our family, “What’s not transformed is transferred.” And I think one of the ways, one of the obstacles to this is that people can, because it was inaugurated by the bishops, it just becomes part of the sort of like online sparring fest between different camps and ideologies about what they think about it. And we become consumers of content instead of actually people who are trying to receive a gift. And so if you’re coming to the Congress, I think I would come with a stance of receptivity to a gift. Like, certainly the bishops inaugurated this, but this is a gift God wants to give you in an experience. And so if you’re not attentive to your own, whatever potential obstacles, right, we live in a, I mean, let’s just be honest, post-2002 world, post-2018 world, in the summer of McCarrick, and the experience of Covid was very painful for a lot of people. And we’re in a time where there’s incredible decline in religiosity across the United States, including in the Catholic Church. And so there’s parish closings and different, there’s just a lot of things that I think people are dealing with a lot more grief, I think, about their experience with the church than they admit at times.

Tim Glemkowski: [00:36:00] And because we’re not honest about those experiences, we end up just kind of transferring them, you know, somewhere else. And so I think this would be instead an occasion for the Lord to meet us in that grief, to meet us in that place. I think of, it’s always struck me the example of Clopas Cleopas leaving Jerusalem on the day of the resurrection, right. The women have come, and Peter and John, and have said, “The Lord has risen from the dead.” Right, and what does he choose to do? He chooses to walk away, to go back home. Like keep in mind, this is a man, like Mary, wife of Clopas Cleopas. Like these are individuals who have followed Jesus in his public ministry. Like they’ve given up a lot to follow him. And there’s some bitterness and some frustration in him that causes him, even at the good news of the resurrection, to instead choose to walk away. Almost like maybe this feeling of like, I’m not doing this anymore. I’m like, I’m done. We thought he was the guy and he’s not the guy. And as they’re leaving, they’re arguing like I’ve always kind of, in my own theological imagination, imagined that it’s actually his wife, Mary, who’s one of the witnesses of the resurrection, who’s walking with him. These are the two disciples on the road. One of them’s named. One of them’s unnamed. I think it’s his wife telling him, like, “What are you doing? Where are you going?” And so when Jesus comes then into the midst of that encounter, who’s he coming after? It’s not two disciples, it’s one, right? He’s coming alongside Mary and her mission as she proclaims the good news to her husband, trying to get him to hope beyond hope that Jesus is actually risen from the dead.

Tim Glemkowski: [00:37:24] He literally leaves the 99 back in Jerusalem who do believe in his resurrection, to go after the one and walk seven miles with him to Emmaus so that he can appear to him in the breaking of the bread. And then they rush back to Jerusalem with the good news, right. So this is the action of the Eucharistic Congress. Jesus is coming alongside the church in our evangelistic mission to reach out to those of us who are uniquely Cleopas in our time, right. Like to those of us who have been uniquely jaded or become cynical, or become frustrated or become discouraged, who have been fishing all night, and there’s a moment here of, they have no wine, right, that we have to lean into if we’re really going to experience it. If we just come as consumers of sort of the online commentariat about what the church in the United States is doing or what the bishops are doing, then we will not experience the power of the resurrection that God wants for us. But if we’re open and if we can surrender to the action of God, then we could see something remarkable happen in our lives individually. And that’s going to be the challenge for us who are coming to the Congress.

Dr. Peter: [00:38:24] Wow. Yeah. So I’m curious about like insider tips from your guys’s perspective, right? Insider tips about attending the conference. First, those that are going to be there physically going to be there in person in Indianapolis, downtown, like, what tips do you have to make it a really good experience? And kind of alongside of that is also this question about what do you think the common mistakes people are going to make, like what kinds of things are going to potentially get them derailed in some way or off course in some way? And so those two questions like have really been on my mind, and I’m asking for myself actually, like, because I’m going, right. So I’m curious about like what you think might be potential, I don’t know, temptations or impulses that might lead people astray and what can really help them stay focused, stay grounded, stay recollected.

Joel Stepaneck: [00:39:16] I have a background in youth ministry and I keep up on youth culture and youth work. One of my favorite Gen Z terms is “You’re doing too much.” If you’re just like, so kind of in people’s business and you’re so overly concerned about something, you say, “Hey, you’re doing too much, you’re doing too much.” I think that’s one of the temptations where people are going to get trapped is trying to do too much. There’s tons of wonderful stuff happening at the Congress. There’s great programing in the mornings. There are Masses in the morning, there’s Masses in the afternoon. There is a perpetual adoration chapel. There’s a wonderful expo hall. There’s lots of additional experiences around the expo hall. There’s breakout sessions, there’s revival sessions. There’s stuff to do in downtown Indianapolis. I think that a mistake that people can make, and we’ve even tried to keep people from making the mistake by intentionally overlapping breakout sessions.

Dr. Peter: [00:40:08] I saw that.

Joel Stepaneck: [00:40:09] They can’t attend two in a day, which I think some people I’ve had email me and say, “Well, could I leave one early and go to the next one?” And our registration system won’t even allow for that because there’s something good, and I think you’ll have the best experience possible if you take time just to be. You know, to go to the perpetual adoration chapel and just sit for a little bit, to take some time, if you’re there with your family to grab a picnic lunch and talk about what you’ve heard and not consume, but process and reflect or even just spend time together, I know that there’s many families going. Take advantage of the downtime when you’re there to just be together as a family. If you’re going on a pilgrimage with your parish community, make some new friends, spend some time together after a session you know, somewhere in downtown Indianapolis enjoying some late night appetizers and a couple of drinks. You know, make some community. Those are things that aren’t programmed in. So there’s wonderful programming. But I think the trap some people will fall in is trying to do it all and trying to get it all in and then being exhausted by the time we hit the evening sessions. And they want to pray. So I think that that’s the key. And to be receptive to your body. If you signed up for a breakout session, but on Saturday morning you’re like, I am so exhausted, go rest so that you can walk in the downtown procession, you know, that afternoon. If you avoid doing too much, I think you’ll really get the most out of this experience. You’re not going to be able to do it all. And that’s okay.

Tim Glemkowski: [00:41:37] Yeah, I think that’s right. And it’s well said. Well-planned days, good shoes. I mean this is called a city wide event, right. Like you’re going to land at the airport and see signage for the event. So it’s the scale of this is different than a normal Catholic conference. Like even just walking from — the convention center is literally next to Lucas Oil Stadium. But it’s like a half mile walk because these are huge buildings and we have the entirety of both of these buildings. So it is just going to be about picking your spots and planning and yeah, kind of having like better rhythms to the day, almost like European rhythms of like maybe a little afternoon downtime and then a coffee and a food truck. Yeah, I’m kind of pumped to try a few of the afternoon liturgies. Like, obviously we have the huge Masses celebrated by cardinals and papal delegates and stuff in the stadium every day. But there’s a part of me that’s interested to try, like to go to a Divine Liturgy, you know, at 4 p.m. or whatever, and have a moment of prayer there. I mean, we’re all going to be running like crazy. So, we’ll see what’s possible. But that would be my recommendation is, just like Joel, is just kind of like balance and not neglecting the human for the sake of just, like, being everywhere. I mean, even just the raw amount of people, the introverts in the crowd are going to need to go find that adoration chapel to just, like, let their brains calm down. Did we get those sensory rooms, Joel? Did we ever?

Joel Stepaneck: [00:42:49] We did. Yeah. Yeah, there’s some sensory rooms. I think the other thing I would say to folks going, that is just the best piece of advice, especially for people that have not been to an event like this — I’m thinking anybody who hasn’t done like a World Youth Day — is patience. You know, like when you go to a sporting event, that’s probably the closest thing most people coming to this will have had is I go to a football game, a basketball game, a baseball game where there’s a large crowd of this number and that’s handled a certain way. It’s a whole lot different when it’s five days of that. And if you’ve ever been a pilgrim to a World Youth Day, you know. Yeah, sometimes you’re walking, sometimes you’re waiting, sometimes you’re moving quickly. And that’s just all part of the experience. And a pilgrim finds joy in those moments and uses them to build community. So that’s the thing I would say is if you come in and say, “Hey, I’m going to be patient, sometimes things will move fast, sometimes they’ll move, maybe I feel a little bit slow.” And there’s, as Tim said, all these people all over the place all the time. That’s part of an event like this. And if you’ve been to a World Youth Day, you’re equipped. But if you’ve not been, you’ll get a little taste of that in Indianapolis.

Dr. Peter: [00:43:54] So I love the sense of some self-care. And I’m also thinking about like 1 Kings 19, right? Where God speaks in a still small voice. Like carving out those times to be able to have some silence, to be able to listen to what our Lord has to say to us personally, but also to be able to listen to even — like you guys were saying — to our own bodies. I love the idea about like, sensible shoes, good shoes, that you mentioned that really briefly, Tim. Like, yeah, that’s a thing that’s going to be like a thing, especially with the amount of foot traffic that’s going to be happening at this thing. So balancing all of those different aspects of our humanity, remembering that, you know, we are these material and spiritual composites, right? We need to take care of the entirety of our being and not just assume that our bodies can handle what might amount to abuse, right? Because we’re so jacked up, so amped up about like what’s going on around us and not wanting to miss anything.

Joel Stepaneck: [00:44:52] Yeah, without a doubt. And I think that’s why Tim even mentioned, you know, look at the schedule and plan things out. Know what your options are. If you need to sleep in one morning, yes, you may miss them, one of the morning liturgies. There’s a bunch of really incredible options for afternoon liturgies that you can walk into. Take the opportunity to do that. You may not have an opportunity locally to go to a Divine Liturgy of a Byzantine rite. You may not have an opportunity to go to, you know, a Mass in Vietnamese, take advantage of those things, you know. And get the sleep.

Dr. Peter: [00:45:23] I love it. And so, you know, when people are considering how to take in how to experience this remotely, virtually. Any tips or recommendations for them?

Joel Stepaneck: [00:45:35] Yeah, I think that there’s two things that people can do. It really depends on sort of your life circumstances. If you are, you know, married, you have a family. I would encourage you if you’re going to watch any of these sessions, do that with your spouse, you know, sit down together, put it on Chromecast or on Apple TV, watch it in your house, and if you’re going to be watching, do your best not just to consume it, but to pray along with what’s happening. So if there’s a moment of prayer, you know, pray in your living room, pray wherever you’re watching, to participate and be united there. I think one of the challenges with watching anything on a screen is we can become a passive consumer of that. So just sort of resist that temptation as you’re watching and to pray. And if you’re with a group of people, maybe you’ve got a small group from your parish that’s gathering to watch this or maybe a little bit of a larger group, you’re going to watch the revival sessions, take an opportunity to pause or to mute during times of prayer and to actually pray with each other. Maybe pray a rosary together or a Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Maybe again, if you’re in a parish setting where you’re able, you break and go spend some time in Eucharistic adoration. Every evening session has Eucharistic adoration during it. But I mean, if you’re at a parish watching or you’re even close, maybe, why watch it on the screen when you could say, okay, like we heard the talks, we heard the sessions, let’s pack it up and go ten minutes down the road to our Eucharistic adoration chapel. And let’s pray tonight. I think those would be ways to really make the remote viewing experience not just passively consuming something, but actively participating in the moment.

Tim Glemkowski: [00:47:04] Yeah, I would just agree with all of that. I think community is what makes the difference between it being sort of just a content. Either way, this is a historical thing, right? So you’re going to want to at least see part of it. And you know, I remember watching 2008 World Youth Day, you know, Pope Benedict coming into the harbor in Sydney or whatever with my dad in his office. He worked from home and he had a TV in there. And I remember he had it on and coming in and watching it for a minute. It was cool to just see that. But it’s not like I really engaged in World Youth Day that year or prayed with them. So I think what can make this more, if this story of revival is true, that we see this as a moment of renewal for the church in the United States, I think it’s all the things that Joel mentioned, either in a family or in a small group. I’m hoping that, you know, I was just in California visiting some friends, and I gave a talk at a parish. And to me that would be like, I hope that they — most people came up to me were like, hey, we can’t make it, we’re so sorry. Some people are coming. They’re like, we can’t wait. We have our tickets, we’re flying out. It’s like, great. But a lot of people were saying, oh, it’s just too far. It’s too much time. I couldn’t get the time off work, whatever. My hope would be that that parish would then still have like one of the nights, Thursday night or Saturday night, that they would actually join us in prayer and like, show the session and then stop and pray, live in person and have their own experience of adoration with some music or whatever. Like that’s what I think could really turn this into a really neat, all these sort of satellite locations. I know there was one diocese in the northeast, maybe Vermont or something, that was planning, you know, on even hosting like a few satellite locations. Obviously we want people to come in person, but as the date gets closer, we know more and more people are sort of either their plans are locked in or they’re not able to make it right. I have no kind of qualms about suggesting these other ways of having community as you participate in this. So it’s a moment of prayer, not just consumption.

Dr. Peter: [00:48:47] Right, right. And one of the things I was thinking about as you both were speaking, Joel and Tim, was just that. We are part of one body, like one mystical body with Christ as our head. And so this idea of us being in that body means that we are connected to this. If we want to be aware of that, we can be, right. So the idea that this is happening and I can’t make it, and so therefore I’m just totally detached from it doesn’t have to be the case, doesn’t have to be the case.

Tim Glemkowski: [00:49:14] Not at all. Not at all. Yeah.

Dr. Peter: [00:49:16] Yeah. It may be that in your particular circumstances, I mean, it’s hard to imagine that God wants every US and Canadian Catholic to go to this, right? I mean, that would overwhelm Indianapolis. We’d be totally sunk, right. But there is a plan for your particular circumstances, and I would encourage you in these two weeks, also, in addition to what you offer is for people to discern how to be a part of that. Like, what is God, you know, offering you in this potentially, right. And to see if there might be some way that he is attempting to touch your heart. Because when I look at this lineup of speakers, when I look at the breakout sessions, I was like, totally floored at how many people. This is like a who’s who of big names, and then of people that I know may not be big names but are doing really, really good work. And so I’m just like, wow, this is awe inspiring just to see who all is going to be there. Yeah.

Tim Glemkowski: [00:50:07] You know, it’s funny, we had to sort of change the expectations of numbers because of the seating in the stadium. It just when you put in staging and all these different things, it just seats far fewer people than you would expect. You know, like even Taylor Swift only fit 50,000 in Lucas Oil Stadium, you know. So Jesus is king of the universe. So, you know, we’re hoping to surpass that. But I think you’re right where, and the cool thing about a lot of those speakers is a lot of them are working at discounted rates, like things they like less than they would normally charge for an event, sort of just to support the church. Like this is, the church is gathering, the church’s moment, like you said. I think that’s why people can, this isn’t like the gathering of one apostolate. Like this is our spiritual fathers have called us together as a church for a reason and for a purpose. And so I do think everyone can tap into sort of the spiritual purpose and intention of that event by even if they’re participating remotely. But yeah, most of our, like, breakout speakers are typically keynoting large conferences, like these are… And I think and Joel could probably weigh in more on this, but there’s been a lot of questions on the speakers, you know, there’s a lot of questions on everything we do, but there’s been a lot of questions on the speakers, like, why this speaker, not this speaker? Why are people chosen? I know that one of the key hermeneutics, like the one of the key things we were looking for is, is this someone who can preach to conversion, like, is this someone, you know, according to the purpose and the intention of the day, whether it’s healing or encounter or communion, whatever.

Tim Glemkowski: [00:51:27] But are these people who actually get up and are able to craft a unique talk for this moment, to unpack the gospel and how it might impact someone’s life sitting there in the stadium. So there’s a lot of wonderful speakers that could also have done that, that are not included, but these in a particular way, as we prayed through it. And many of our sponsors were able to, you know, bring along different breakout sessions too, as part of their sort of connection to the Congress, which was an awesome way to get even other names that, you know, sort of on the t-sheet, so to speak. But really, I think our intention with a lot of the speakers we were picking was that, you know, for us, we always use the words, encounter and mission. What is the Congress about? At its core, it’s about encounter and mission. An encounter with the living God that sends us on mission as a church. And we were really looking for people who could do that, you know, not speakers from any one particular camp or ideology, but people who wanted to introduce people to the living God and then challenge them to go on mission.

Joel Stepaneck: [00:52:19] Yeah, yeah, I would echo that. I think that’s one of the most difficult things to do was selecting folks for this. We had wonderful teams who gave us input on speaker names so that we were able to vet those, you know, through different groups of people and do our best to find, you know, those voices you said that are familiar in the church and some that are not as familiar. But yeah, I think we have a wonderful lineup of people who are going to preach and proclaim the gospel. And again, I think, you know, Tim had mentioned too, like folks are taking kind of a discount on what they ask for as far as, you know, just compensation for their work. I think the other thing that I’ve really been impressed by is just the humility of folks. You know, as Tim said, we’ve got people doing breakouts who typically would give a keynote. And then even for people who are giving keynotes, it was our hope that we could have as many different voices as we could sharing and honoring time. So there are people who are doing talks that are much, much shorter than what they’d be used to, because kind of our philosophy was, let’s bring people up on stage and have them give tight, powerful, concise messages. So there are folks that would be like used to giving a 50, 60 minute keynote, and we’re like, hey, you’ve got 20 minutes to give a really powerful and concise message, you know. And they’ve been so good about working through that and be like, okay, that’s great. Because really the heart is just that. They are there to serve. And I’ve been really blessed by that.

Dr. Peter: [00:53:34] So there’s a spirit of generosity. There’s a spirit of sacrifice, you know, that I’m kind of hearing you say with these speakers as well.

Joel Stepaneck: [00:53:43] Yeah. And I think with a lot of the people who are involved in this event, everybody has sort of needed to count the cost of what it means to do this in the United States, and recognizing that there are finite resources, that things do cost money. We have to support an event that is safe, an event that has the right space, an event that has the right staff and has the right people. And that in all of that, we want to be good stewards of the gifts that God has given us. To go back to the earlier question about kind of cynical folks, I’m like, if this wasn’t the Lord’s will, it just wouldn’t have happened. It’s too big of a beast, I think, to be able to happen the way that it has. But the responsiveness of people who are volunteering, the people on our staff, our speakers, musicians, the priests, the bishops, the cardinals who have all just rallied to say, okay, like this is an all of us kind of thing. Yeah, there’s been a tremendous spirit of generosity around it, down to our sponsors and benefactors who have been so generous with us in helping something like this happen for the church in the United States. So I think that the Lord’s in that, you know.

Tim Glemkowski: [00:54:46] Yeah. That’s right, Joel. Yeah. I think the most interesting book that can be written about this whole thing is actually like the story of how it came together and happened. And I think God has been very, I don’t know, I don’t know, Joel, we haven’t actually talked about this, but I do feel like we’re starting to see a lot come together now, right? Like the passes are, we’re close to sell out. And, you know, we will sell out in all likelihood, you know, over the next couple of weeks. And there were times where we were like, does anyone want to come to this thing, you know, and I think a lot of those moments were God working on our own hearts so that when it all did start coming together, there would be no temptation on those of us who helped in the kind of putting of it together to say, “Oh, we did that. We were so smart and so strategic and we just knew, you know.” I think we’ve all made a bunch of mistakes, but I think we’ve all also been pushed to the limits of our trust to say, like, the Lord was going to make sure that those of us who were involved in the planning of this knew that, like, “I am the Lord and I am the Lord alone, like, I did this. Thank you for participating in it.” And it is, it’s been a fascinating. The church has never really done this to the same extent. Like to have an apostolate that’s not supported by any one diocese, not any one sort of local church or other entity who was helping to sort of seed. You know, when we started working for it, there was literally $0 in the bank, like literally zero, you know? So it’s like you look at something like that in two years for an event to come together. I think it’ll take us years, our small staff of like 14 people who have been kind of invited into this.

Tim Glemkowski: [00:56:14] But I think, Joel, as you speak about even generosity, I do think about that where it’s like there’s a lot of people, like you said, sponsors, benefactors, staff, a lot of the bishops who gave to scholarships and sort of helped push this thing forward in different ways, who invited the pilgrimage into their dioceses. This was a new way of operating for the church that is atypical. This is not a common, like this isn’t how the church does things in this sort of like startup entrepreneurial, like build something from scratch kind of way. But I think that’s actually the most interesting part of the whole story of this, is that that’s a much more healthy and effective way, actually, for the church to operate, because we’ve had to rely on the grace of God. There’s so many times that we like, godless self-reliance, Dr. Bob Schuchts, who I know you’ve had on, calls it. Like, there’s so many times as a church that we operate as if we have to do it in order for it to be done right. And what the Lord wanted to show with this is like, this is my thing.

Tim Glemkowski: [00:57:05] And again, July 22nd, I think everyone’s going to see why exactly. I still don’t know why, fully. You know what I mean? Like why, what the fruit and the grace and the gift of it. Maybe it’s like you said, Joel, maybe it’s not going to be really fully unpacked for 5 or 10 years. And we look back and say, oh, that was why. But this is different. This is just, this whole thing has been. And even a lot of the criticism around finances or different things is because people assume, oh, the bishops must just be writing checks to pay for this whole thing. And why don’t they just keep X, Y, or Z parish open instead? I’ve actually had people say that to me, and it’s like, I don’t even know how to begin to explain to you how that how much that is not how this is operating. A single dollar that was not intentionally given from someone in order to support the work of the Congress pilgrimage. Every dollar that’s been spent on this initiative has been spent by somebody who said, “I want this thing to happen, and I want to sacrifice for it to happen.” Whether that’s Relevant Radio or Augustine Institute or Our Sunday Visitor, or the Knights of Columbus, or any myriad number of benefactors, most of whom want to stay anonymous, like there’s certain people who God just touched their hearts in their lives and said, come and follow me in a way that’s going to require sacrifice and generosity from you. And it was Joel Stepanek, it was Chris Frank, and it was Sarah Hudon, it was Jason Shanks, and it was all these people who were asked to give a gift so that Jesus and the Eucharist might be encountered by many. And that’s a really powerful thing. If I ever write a book on this, that’s the book that’s going to be written is like, why this should have never worked and should have never happened. And instead we have like 47,000 people coming to Indianapolis right now.

Dr. Peter: [00:58:36] That’s amazing. That’s amazing. So a couple of things. How do people find out more? What’s the best way to sort of, somebody may be hearing this for the first time. They may realize, hey, I’m kind of late to the game. I’m excited. Now I’m interested. Where do they go? How do they check it out?

Joel Stepaneck: [00:58:53] Yeah, you can go to eucharisticcongress.org and at the time of this publication, there may still be some day passes. So you could join us in person in downtown Indianapolis, or they will have information on the website of how you can livestream the event, and you can join us that way. And then follow us on our social media accounts, particularly Instagram would be a great one where you’ll be able to follow all of the action with photo updates and video updates. That’s Eucharistic Revival is the Instagram handle that you can go check out.

Dr. Peter: [00:59:19] Okay, so eucharisticcongress.org, that’s the main site. Check that out. Definitely check that out. So I’d like, as we begin to land this, I’m really curious about sort of one or maybe one and a half takeaways that each of you, you know, would like people to leave with as a result of having listened to us today. What do you really want a person in the audience to take away, to remember from our time together today?

Joel Stepaneck: [00:59:45] I’ll just sort of go with what Tim had ended with. And it’s not actually really about the Congress event. Well, it is about the Congress event, but it’s not totally about the Congress event. But that if we desire for the Lord to do great things, the revival is the work of the Lord. So we petition the Lord. We beg the Lord for revival, and the Lord desires to do that. The Lord desires to do great works and desires our cooperation in that. And it’s through a spirit of generosity and risk that we’re able to make an offering that the Lord can utilize in bigger ways than we could imagine. And I think that that is, Tim said you could write a book on it. Maybe that would be a part of it. But I think that’s the thing I’d love for people to take away is, that in your own life, right now, you know, the story of the Congress has been one of generosity, of risk, and ultimately of God’s glory. And at the end of the day, we’re unprofitable servants, but that in our own lives that story rings true, and that the Lord is saying, how can you be generous? How can you trust? How can you step out in faith so that in doing that, I can do something big? Because I don’t need you to do it, but I want you to do it for your salvation and for the salvation of others.

Joel Stepaneck: [01:00:51] At the beginning of this, Bishop Cousins, when I had first started, gave a homily at a small Mass for our staff, and he said something that, it’s just resonated with me since that day. He said, “You know, you are not the means to an end in this. God did not call you to this so that you could do this work for him. Now, certainly that’s part of what you’re doing. But ultimately, God desires your salvation in this, that this is for your good, that the work you’re doing is so that you could be saved. And he desires your sanctification in this.” And that’s just sort of resonated with me. So I think that’s maybe the takeaway I’d leave folks with is that through our generosity, through taking a risk and stepping out, ultimately the Lord can do wonderful things in collaboration with us, but in that we can find our own pathway to holiness.

Tim Glemkowski: [01:01:35] Yeah. Beautiful. Yeah. “You will know that I am the Lord when I make you rise from your graves, O my people.” Right, like this, yeah. I would say kind of along similar lines. It’s just, yeah, “Eye has not seen what the Lord has ready for those who love him.” I do think there are a lot of us who are good Catholics trying to follow the Lord. We’ve had conversions and we’re like doing our best. And I think we still remain in some ways in so many different parts of our heart, what C.S. Lewis would call the half hearted creatures, right? Fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is being offered to us. And I think that God has — I haven’t met a baptized Catholic yet that God doesn’t have incredible plans for, and the only thing holding us back from those plans is our own lack of trust, lack of an ability to believe that that’s true. And the willing, like Joel said, to risk, to step into it. So that’s I think the heart of the Eucharistic revival is certainly a call to those who don’t believe in the Eucharist to believe, but even deeper than that, for those of us who bump into the miraculous every day or once a week, or however often we receive the Eucharist to see there instead the invitation to an incredible adventure that God has in front of us that will change our lives, change our family’s lives, and then ultimately change the country, change the church in the United States. So that’s what this is all about.

Dr. Peter: [01:02:55] Excellent, excellent. Thank you gentlemen. And I had one more thought. So let’s say it’s somebody watching this in 2026, 2027 or later. Is there a way to kind of connect in with what happened at the Congress afterward? Are the recordings going to be available, you know, things like that, or do you guys know yet what’s going to happen with that? So that if somebody is like looking at this and saying, you know, I wish I had been there and I know it’s 2027, but I still want to see what happened. They’re going to be options for that?

Tim Glemkowski: [01:03:26] Joel?

Joel Stepaneck: [01:03:27] Yeah, there will be. We’ll have content continually available digitally, you know, over the next several of years. So if you’re listening to this after 2024, you’ll be able to find that content through the National Eucharistic Congress and hopefully find out when the next Congress is going to be and what that looks like and following along.

Dr. Peter: [01:03:43] Oh wow. Like a teaser for the future already. Amazing. Great. All right, guys, well, I want to thank you both from the bottom of my heart for being here. Thank you for the good work that you’ve done, for allowing God to involve you, to work through you for this. And I’m excited about the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress. A big invitation to all of you, my audience, the viewers, the listeners, to really discern, to ask the specific question. Sometimes in this discernment, we just assume, yeah, I can’t do it. And we don’t ever really ask the question, how might I be involved? How might God be asking me, inviting me into a relationship with him in this particular way? So I’m just going to invite you to ask the question. I’m just going to invite you to ask that question in prayer and to, if you’ve already been praying about it, if you’ve already been discerning about it, to even do a little bit more, especially in these days leading up to the Congress to see where might be your personal role in this, what God might have in store for you, what gifts he might want to give you because he loves you as his beloved little son or daughter.

Dr. Peter: [01:04:56] All right. So, be sure to check out the previous episodes in this series on Integrated Personal Formation. Episodes 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, and 140. And check out our YouTube channel. Like and subscribe and let’s start a conversation. If you leave a comment on YouTube, I will read it and I will respond until there are just too many comments and we’re nowhere near that, too many comments to respond to. All right, so the next episode, episode 142 of this podcast will be called Your Story and Your Personal Formation, with Kathryn Wessling and Gabriel Crawford of Catholic Story Groups. And I will be telling you a story of my childhood. And Kathryn and Gabriel will be helping me to understand my own history. They’ll be helping me in my personal formation by showing you how these Catholic story groups work. It’s a powerful program. I’ve heard great things about it, I’m excited about it. And that episode will release on July 15th, 2024. Also Dr. Gerry Crete, co-founder with me of Souls and Hearts, he and I have media passes to the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress. We’ll be interviewing more of the best Catholic voices about the integration of formation, and we’ll be presenting those to you in episodes 143 and 144. So keep a lookout for that. Again, the National Eucharistic Congress is from July 17th to the 21st. Dr. Gerry will be doing a book signing for his book, Litanies of the Heart, at the Sophia Press table in the expo hall. Possibility to connect there as well and get your book signed.

Dr. Peter: [01:06:39] We’re also doing a pre-congress workshop through Souls and Hearts. It’s called Recollecting Your Parts for Reconciliation and the Eucharist. So this is an in-person event in Indianapolis on July 17th as a preliminary event to the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress. So this is before the Congress kicks off with the 7:00 pm Eucharistic Procession. This is not affiliated with the National Eucharistic Congress. We want to be clear about that. Dr. Gerry and I are hosting this Souls and Hearts gathering for pilgrims who can come early, or maybe for those who are local. And we’re going to be really diving into the experience of our parts with the sacrament of penance and with our Lord in the Eucharist. We’re going to be looking at what’s getting in the way of us loving God wholeheartedly with all of our parts, in an integrated way when we experience the sacraments. Find out all the details and register on our Souls and Hearts landing page. Just go to soulsandhearts.com. There’ll be a link there on the front page of soulsandhearts.com to tell you more about it. It’d be great to see you. We’ve got room for about 60 people for that. We’ve got probably 25 or 30 registered already. And that again is called Recollecting Your Parts in Reconciliation and the Eucharist. I’m going to be presenting again on the sacrament of penance, the difficulties our parts have. Dr. Gerry is going to be presenting on the Eucharist and how to connect with our Lord more wholeheartedly. The other thing about this is that it’s going to be really experiential, lots of experiential exercises. And as a special treat, Fr. Boniface Hicks, who is a dear friend of Souls and Hearts and a dear friend of mine, really like having him there. He’s going to be there. He’s not presenting, but he’ll be there. My spiritual director, Fr. Terence Chartier, will be in the confessional to hear confessions. Very gentle person, especially for people that may have experienced wounds around the sacrament.

Dr. Peter: [01:08:39] We focus on human formation here at Souls and Hearts, with some emphasis on intellectual formation, when we do that in community. So if you are a Catholic who holds that what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches is true, and if you are inspired to work on your human formation, but not alone, not as a lone wolf, but in a community of other Catholics journeying together on a pilgrimage to flourishing and love — then check out the Resilient Catholics Community at our landing page at soulsandhearts.com/rcc. Come join us. A pilgrimage to better human formation is so much better, so much richer in the company of others. There’s an opening for new applications for our cohort, Saint Gertrude the Great, that opened on June 1st. We could be on onboarding our largest cohort ever. And as part of that, you get the PartsFinder Pro. And I told you about that in some previous episodes. But this is 16 measures to help you identify your parts and their roles within your system, to help you understand yourself better so that you can love yourself better. Why? Not just so that you can love yourself, but so that you can love God wholeheartedly with all of your parts, and so that you can love your neighbor as yourself.

Dr. Peter: [01:09:50] There’s some mock reports in the YouTube description today. You can take a look at those. The RCC is made up of companies, small groups of 7 to 9 members who meet weekly and journey together. We named that after the Company of the Ring from the Lord of the Rings. So we also will be having special companies for therapists, priests, spiritual directors, coaches and those who work in lay ministry. And you’ll have a companion that you’ll be connecting with daily, some brief check-ins throughout the week to share experiences. There’s an informational video. There’s all kinds of testimonials. There’s all kinds of information, timelines, how much it costs, and all of that. Again, it’s soulsandhearts.com/rcc. Don’t forget, you can reach out to me in conversation hours. Those are every Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eastern time on my cell phone (317) 567-9594. Marion Moreland, our RCC Lead Navigator, is available at marion@integratedhearts.com for any questions. And with that, we will close by invoking our patroness and our patrons. Really glad to be able to do that with Joel and with Tim. Our Lady, our mother, Untier of knots. Pray for us. Saint Joseph. Pray for us. Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.

Special thanks to the Human Formation Coalition, who provided the support to make this transcript available.

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