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 By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic staff – November 15, 2017

On June 18, 2018, the Diocese of Orlando will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Established in 1968, the diocese is comprised of 79 parishes and 12 missions, two basilicas, 37 schools, and hundreds of ministries. To commemorate the year, Bishop John Noonan has proclaimed a Jubilee Year of the Eucharist beginning the first Sunday of Advent, December 3, 2017 through the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, November 25, 2018.

The theme for the year is “Stay with us, Lord” based on the scriptural passage in Luke 24 describing the Road to Emmaus when disciples urged our Lord, “’Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.’  So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.”

Bishop Noonan said he chose to establish a Jubilee Year of the Eucharist because he wants to take the year “to highlight certain aspects of the liturgy and celebrate the wholeness of salvation history throughout the year.” He added, “The Eucharist is the summit of our whole belief. We are the body of Christ. The Eucharist brings the sense of unity and community together. We are all joined together in our belief and as a community of faith, based on the Eucharist and who Christ is.”

As a diocese, he said he hopes the Year of the Eucharist, “…will help the people come to know Christ in their life and be enriched by the experience of the Word and Eucharist. We come together each Sunday and what a nice way to remember what it’s all about—to come together in Word and Eucharist. I think that this is what liturgy is and Eucharist is— celebrating Christ in our midst.”

All parishes are invited to participate in the jubilee celebration. Many communities have already responded with plans of added Eucharistic Adoration times and incorporating this beautiful tradition into faith formation sessions. Our Lady of Grace Parish in Palm Bay will have a memory wall telling the story of its own parish journey as will several schools. Other churches will hold thanksgiving novenas, presentations on the Eucharist, and establish Eucharistic communities focusing on being a support for others.

Bishop Noonan’s goals for the year are that the faithful will celebrate communion by being leaven to others; to live charity and bring forth the Eucharist as the bond of love that unites us to Christ; to seek transformation through the Eucharist, and embrace solidarity – bringing justice and generosity to one another.

In the hopes of community bonding, St. Joseph Parish in Lakeland is introducing a new ministry called One Bread, One Body. Focusing on Communion, several parishes will begin “Living the Eucharist”, a parish-based program developed by Paulist fathers and designed to revitalize spirituality through a more profound experience of Sunday Mass. This is a three-year program occurring during Lent.

Parishes are also encouraged to partake in the “Life in the Eucharist Movement” or LITE, developed in part by Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament Father George Dunne, a past associate pastor at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Winter Springs. The national program aims to develop a profound understanding of the Eucharist and live out its implications in daily life.

During this jubilee year, Bishop Noonan and Pope Francis will also honor individuals for their extraordinary example of faith that makes the Gospel visible. The Mary, Mother of God diocesan medal will be given to local Catholics whose fiat to God enkindles a deeper faith in the heart of the people; forms leaders in Christ; and harmonizes ministries to the mission of the Church.

Papal medals such as the Knight/Lady of St. Gregory the Great, Papal Cross (Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice) and the Papal Medal (Benemerenti) may also be bestowed by the Holy Father.

You may download the 50th Anniversary Booklet which includes ideas, various parish and school plans for participation as well as an outline of events throughout the year and a calendar listing of other parishes celebrating anniversaries at www.orlandodiocese.org.

Jubilee Year of the Eucharist Golden Anniversary Dates

Bishop Noonan’s invitation to the Jubilee Year at all parishes
December 3, 2017

Florida Eucharistic Congress
March 16-17, 2018

Corpus Christi Mass and Procession
Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe
June 3, 2018

St. James Cathedral, Orlando
Bishop Noonan celebrates Mass on the 50th anniversary
June 17, 2018

St. James Cathedral, Orlando Bells rung
Commemorating 50th anniversary
June 18, 2018 at 12 noon

Closing liturgy of the 50th Jubilee Year
Includes Apostolic blessings and plenary indulgence
November 25, 2018