Fewer than one-third of Catholics believe the Eucharist is the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Pew Research Center found in a recent poll. The majority of America’s self-identified Catholics – 69 percent, according to the poll – are either ignorant or simply mistaken about what the Catholic Church teaches on the Eucharist.

“As bishop of the diocese of Oakland, I find this shocking,” the Most Rev. Michael Barber, SJ, wrote in a letter to the faithful.

As part of the bishop’s response to the findings, he has called for a diocesan-wide Eucharistic Congress on June 19-20 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland.

“With the theme ‘Stay with us, Lord!’ (Lk 24:29), I invite all the faithful of our diocese to reflect upon the centrality of the Eucharist in our lives, and to reaffirm our call to be a people nourished, fed and molded by the Eucharist itself — just as the disciples were on the road to Emmaus,” Bishop Barber wrote.

The June 19 portion of the event is designed for priests of the diocese. They will gather to hear a spiritual talk, hear from the bishop and will pray with young people of the diocese, who will lead Eucharistic Adoration until 11 p.m.

This will give “a chance for the priests to pray with the young people of our diocese, and a chance for the young to experience the faith of our priests,” said the Very Rev. Brandon Macadaeg, rector of the Cathedral of Christ the Light.

The next day, June 20, will be a day of prayer, speakers and Masses, in both English and Spanish, with a public procession of the Blessed Sacrament on the streets bordering the cathedral.

A committee of priests, deacons and lay people have planned a Saturday event to engage and inspire the faithful.

The day will begin at 9 a.m. with a talk in English by Franciscan University-educated evangelist Michael Gormley from Texas, followed by Mass celebrated by Bishop Barber.

After the Mass, Congress attendees will begin a procession that will depart the cathedral to carry the Eucharist around the city blocks bordering the cathedral. Those planning to attend the Spanish-language track are invited to the cathedral plaza to take part in the procession.

The above comes from a story dated Feb. 10 in the Catholic Voice.

Read Bishop Barber’s letter here.