Every Mass ends with a call to mission. The priest or deacon will say, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord,” or a similar command, and at that, Catholics are to go live with a missioner’s spirit.
Fortunately, each Mass includes the spiritual food we need for the journey.
“The Eucharist actually drives mission,” says Father Neil Pezzulo, pastor of Glenmary’s St. Teresa of Kolkata mission and St. John Paul II mission, both in Eastern Tennessee. “That’s where Catholic mission starts. It’s what really fortifies us to go forward, to go out and share the good news. It is our very source. Even the most casual Catholic always comes back to the Eucharist.”
Father Neil’s own faith is nurtured by the Eucharist, and his is a faith of action. In addition to his sacramental roles, Father Neil leads efforts to feed the hungry, to bring comfort to those who mourn and to witness for the Catholic faith in a pair of counties where Catholics are few.
“The Eucharist and mission are so connected we have to be careful not to let them get separated.” Father Neil says. “We separate things. This is Eucharist, this is mission, this is evangelization, this is ecumenism. We don’t make the connections, but the Eucharist drives it.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announced a three-year National Eucharistic Revival in June of 2022 to encourage Catholics in their faith and Eucharistic practices. Glenmary has been active in promoting the revival among its mission communities. It will culminate in a historic gathering, where Catholics from across the nation will gather in Indianapolis, Indiana, to reconsecrate their hearts to the source and summit of our faith.
At Father Neil’s missions, he’s made Eucharistic adoration more available. He and Deacon Larry Rossini are also making sure the topic stays front of mind at each Mass.
“We’re talking about it. We’re making sure people know about it,” Father Neil says of both the sacrament and the revival. “Deacon Larry and I have made a commitment that every homily will take us back to the table… I always try and connect everything back to the altar, the Eucharist.”
Father Neil and his brother Glenmarians have dedicated their lives to mission, strengthened by the Eucharist. But Father Neil is quick to remind that mission doesn’t belong to just priests and brothers.
“If you find out there’s a new Catholic on the block, and you invite them over for coffee, that’s mission,” he said. “It’s the same with Evangelicals and Baptists. They ask, ‘what church do you go to?’ That’s their way of sharing the good news. But there is a desire in the hearts of the Catholic people to receive Eucharist. They carry that with them when they go out to their friends and family in the world.”
This story first appeared in Glenmary’s Cultivate newsletter.