SASKATOON — A group of some 50 Lay Formation alumni joined Rev. Mike Dechant, OMI, Oct. 21 for a day of enrichment and reflection at Holy Family Cathedral in Saskatoon.
“I want to touch your hearts,” Dechant said, opening the annual Lay Formation Alumni gathering on “Living as Eucharistic People.”
Dechant described a necessary paradigm shift, saying that we “need to look at how to be eucharistic in a whole different light.” Full and active participation are needed, as “we are not to be spectators,” he said, describing how when we gather for the eucharist, “Jesus is in the word, the eucharist, the people and the priest. The focus is not Jesus in the tabernacle. Jesus wants us to engage.”
Dechant stressed that the “eucharist has to have a focus, the celebration of the Lord within us.” Like a meal at a table, the celebration will be lively, interactive, and engaging. “If a wedding, a funeral, and a mass are all the same, then we’re not doing a good job.”
Dechant encouraged his listeners: “We need to imitate, to imbue the presence of Christ.” He reiterated common examples: “You might be the only Bible that kids ever read,” and “you might be the only church that person ever experiences.”
In eucharistic celebration “we experience this moment of salvation. Death no longer has a hold on us,” Dechant said.
Those in attendance shared moments of healing, writing down a word or two — “a word that binds us or holds us back.” They then went to the front of the room and placed their words in a metal bowl while chanting the words, “Lord, have mercy on me,” with the assembly responding: “Lord, have mercy on __ ” (naming each person individually).
Dechant then set the paper on fire. As they disappeared into nothingness, he prayed, “May the Almighty God have mercy on us. May God forgive us our sins. May God bring us to everlasting life. Amen.”
That which binds disappears with God’s mercy and forgiveness, he said.
Dechant encouraged the gathering to be eucharistic people. “When we come in anonymity, it undermines the eucharistic mindset. Bring your daily concerns. Pray for someone and tell them and ask them to pray for you. Gather in clusters with those near you, create your own cluster — the Body of Christ is nourished,” he said, noting that married couples attending a wedding can renew their own marriage vows while they are there.
The afternoon concluded with the celebration of the eucharist in the Queen of Peace Chapel in the cathedral. Those assembled experienced Christ in a powerful way when a young woman visiting the building spontaneously joined the celebration, asking for prayers.
The day of reflection for Lay Formation alumni followed a 30th anniversary celebration for the Lay Formation program in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, which was held the evening before at Queen’s House of Retreat and Renewal (see related article).