At St. Rita of Cascia Church in the Bronx, Cardinal Dolan celebrated a Mass featuring a relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis that will be part of the National Eucharistic Revival in the United States.
“Viva Blessed Carlo Acutis,” said Cardinal Dolan during welcoming remarks at the April 7 bilingual evening liturgy.
The cardinal thanked Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi for his visit and for sharing the relic of the youth.
“St. Rita of Cascia is here with us. St. Francis (of Assisi) is here with us in the presence of the bishop of Assisi, and above all, Jesus is here in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,” the cardinal added.
The homily was delivered in Spanish and English by Archbishop Sorrentino, who also led the faithful in prayer toward the end of a Holy Hour that preceded the Mass. About 550 people attended the Mass, more than 300 were present for the Holy Hour.
After the Mass, Cardinal Dolan blessed the relic, encased within a decorative golden cross, and many of the faithful lined up to venerate it. A large photo of Blessed Carlo was on display by the altar area. The relic of the youth is a fragment of the pericardium, the membrane that surrounded and protected his heart.
“It is a pilgrimage of faith and sanctity,” said Archbishop Sorrentino in his homily, alluding to the travels of the relic. “We are here to celebrate the Holy Eucharist…Dear brothers and sisters, it is really enormous, the mystery we have before us, a great mystery; Blessed Carlo was formed of this mystery. He lived for this mystery. Every day he never missed the Holy Eucharist.”
The archbishop, the spiritual leader of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino and Foligno, added, “Celebration, adoration and transformation; this is what the Eucharist is…Carlo had a heart filled with love for Jesus in the Eucharist, because the Eucharist is the heart of God.”
He also spoke about the importance of family unity, establishing and keeping “a personal covenant with God,” maintaining “a friendship with Jesus, a real friendship,” and “especially to the young people, live a life of joy, of joy in the Gospel.”
Organizers from the Diocese of Assisi said that responding to the request of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops and coinciding with the exhibit in New York of the “Museum of Memory, Assisi 1943-1944,” Archbishop Sorrentino brought the First Class relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis, the first millennial in the world to be declared Blessed.
At the request of Pope Francis, the relic of the youth will travel across the U.S. during the first year of the upcoming three-year National Eucharistic Revival. The revival was announced by the U.S. Bishops in November, to renew faith and rekindle belief in the value and real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Blessed Carlo Acutis, who died from leukemia at the tender age of 15 in 2006, centered his life on the Eucharist precisely to grow in his relationship with Jesus: “The more we receive the Eucharist,” he would say, “the more we will become like Jesus.” He strove to attend daily Mass and spend time in Adoration, believing that “when we get in front of Jesus in the Eucharist, we become saints.”
He was well known for using social media to spread the Good News and document Eucharistic miracles.
During Archbishop Sorrentino’s week in New York, he was accompanied by Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo, responsible for international relations, and Marina Rosati, responsible for the Museum of Memory. The archbishop celebrated Mass in the Diocese of Rockville Centre for 2,500 students at St. Anthony’s High School, South Huntington, where the relic was exposed.
In the Diocese of Brooklyn, he led a diocesan Youth and Young Adult Holy Hour at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Astoria, Queens, and a high school rally at Holy Family Church, Flushing, Queens, again with exposition of the relic.
On April 7, the relic was handed to a delegation of the Bishops’ Conference at the Mass at St. Rita’s in the Bronx; it was consigned to Cardinal Dolan. Prof. Johann Ickx, the pope’s archivist, attended each of the week’s events.
“It is a joy for me to carry this relic from Assisi,” Archbishop Sorrentino said in a statement released by his diocese, “where Blessed Carlo said he felt ‘happiest of all’ and where his remains lie today in the Sanctuary of Renunciation, the very place where St. Francis, 800 years earlier, stripped himself of everything to follow Jesus.
“My prayer is that the presence of Blessed Carlo’s relic stirs a desire within our American brothers and sisters, especially the young, not to waste life, but rather to make of it a masterpiece, as chosen by Blessed Carlo in our own times and St. Francis before him.”
Jennsy Herrera was at the St. Rita Mass with her son Jefferson, 15. So was Leocadia Gonzalez, with her grandson Nathan Reyes, 8. Mrs. Herrera said it was important for her to have Jefferson attend the Mass and hear about the special story of Blessed Carlo Acutis, a spiritual role model for youths.
Jefferson told Catholic New York, “I’m getting closer to God. His (Blessed Carlo’s) faith in God could be a good impact for me, for me to have more faith in God…It (the homily) definitely touched me.”
Concelebrants at the Mass included Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Espaillat and Father Pablo Gonzalez, pastor of St. Rita’s and St. Pius V. At the end of the Mass, both expressed their joy and hope. Father Gonzalez announced that Archbishop Sorrentino earlier had given him a separate Blessed Carlo relic, a hair fragment, as a gift to the parish, an announcement greeted with loud applause.