January 24, 2024 at 7:00 a.m.

A LOVE FOR THE EUCHARIST

Must-see Blessed Carlo Acutis exhibit coming to Immaculate Conception in Glenville.
Blessed Carlo Acutis, an Italian teenager who used his computer programming skills to spread devotion to the Eucharist, was beatified in Assisi, Italy, Oct. 10, 2020. Ho Chi Minh City Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang urged young people to imitate Blessed Carlo by establishing close links with God and other people on social media. (CNS photo/courtesy Sainthood Cause of Carlo Acutis)
Blessed Carlo Acutis, an Italian teenager who used his computer programming skills to spread devotion to the Eucharist, was beatified in Assisi, Italy, Oct. 10, 2020. Ho Chi Minh City Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang urged young people to imitate Blessed Carlo by establishing close links with God and other people on social media. (CNS photo/courtesy Sainthood Cause of Carlo Acutis) (Courtesy photo of (handout))

By MIKE MATVEY | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

He has been called ‘the first millennial saint.’ He was a computer whiz, who had a deep devotion to the Eucharist and detailed numerous Eucharistic Miracles in his short life. And his relics and story are coming to the Diocese of Albany next month in a can’t-miss exhibition!

VATICAN INTERNATIONAL EXHIBIT
OF EUCHARISTIC MIRACLES

(Presented by the parish families of Immaculate Conception in Glenville, Our Lady of Grace in Ballston Lake and St. Joseph’s in Scotia)
SCHEDULE
Thursday, Feb. 15
Noon-5 p.m. Exhibit hours
5 p.m. Talk on Blessed Carlo Acutis, the first millennial to be beatified: Blessed Carlo Acutis lived in Italy from 1990-2006. During his short 151⁄2 years, he was always joyfully sharing the faith, especially his love of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. At the age of 11, as part of his work as a catechist, he created a website which catalogued many of the principal Eucharistic Miracles which have taken place throughout the world and have been recognized by the Church.
6 p.m. Solemn Mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Glenville (400 Saratoga Road)

Friday, Feb. 16
9 a.m.
Morning Prayer
Noon-6 p.m. Exhibit hours
3 p.m. Rosary
5 p.m. Confessions
6:30 p.m. Stations of the Cross and Benediction

Saturday, Feb. 17
9 a.m. 
Morning Prayer
Noon-8 p.m. Exhibit hours
3 p.m. Rosary
4 p.m. Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament/Mass at
St. Joseph’s in Scotia (231 2nd St.)
5 p.m. Confessions
6 p.m. Mass at Immaculate Conception

Sunday, Feb. 18
9 a.m. 
Mass at Immaculate Conception
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Exhibit hours
11 a.m. Mass at Our Lady of Grace in Ballston Lake (73 Midline Road)
3 p.m. Confessions/Rosary
6 p.m. Evening Prayer and Benediction

Monday, February 19
9 a.m.
Mass at St. Joseph’s
Noon-6 p.m. Exhibit hours
2-6 p.m. Deacon and Priest Retreat
3 p.m. Rosary
6 p.m. Solemn Evening Prayer with Benediction

Tuesday, February 20
9 a.m. 
Mass at Immaculate Conception
Noon-3 p.m. Exposition
4 p.m. Talk on St. Manuel Gonzalez Garcia, Bishop of the Abandoned Tabernacle. St. Manuel Gonzalez Garcia was born in Seville, Spain in 1877 and ordained a priest in 1901. He was assigned his first parish mission in the little town of Palomares Del Rio. It was there, where Our Lord spoke to him from an abandoned tabernacle. That was the defining moment in his life and clarified the direction for the rest of his priestly ministry.
5:30 p.m. Solemn Evening Prayer and Benediction

Notes: First-class relics of both Blessed Carlo and St. Manuel will be available for veneration at Immaculate Conception in Glenville. For more info, contact Maryann Haskell at (518) 331-6706.

The life of Blessed Carlo Acutis, who was beatified in October 2020, will be showcased at the Vatican International Exhibit of Eucharistic Miracles from Feb. 15-20 at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Glenville. Immaculate Conception is presenting the exhibit, which will be in the parish hall, in conjunction with its parish family of Our Lady of Grace in Ballston Lake and St. Joseph’s in Scotia. 

“I really think that this is and can be for us that change in church that we need,” said Father Thomas Konopka, pastor of the three-parish family. “In June, I had decided from (the Feast of) Corpus Christi last year that we were going to have a Eucharistic Renewal year and we were going to put it together ourselves, and then all of a sudden we have Carlo, who is devoted to the Eucharist and his relics are coming. … It happened very quickly and unexpectedly. I am sitting back and saying I have no idea how this all happened. I have said to some people, ‘If Carlo is canonized, we are going. We are having a trip to Rome.’ ”

During the six-day exhibit there will be Masses, prayer time, rosary, benediction, confessions, talks, Stations of the Cross, a day set aside for deacons and priests of the Diocese, and plenty of time to venerate relics of Blessed Carlo and read about the Eucharistic Miracles he detailed from the 12th century up until 2013. The exhibit, designed by Blessed Carlo and which is made up of 156 panels and describes many Eucharistic Miracles, also will have relics of St. Manuel Gonzalez Garcia, known as the Bishop of the Abandoned Tabernacle. (For the complete schedule of events, see page 12).

“The exhibit will consist of panels, images that showcase the Eucharistic Miracles and you will really get to look at those up close and it is based off of how Carlo Acutis organized his website to showcase these incredible Eucharistic Miracles,” said Kate Maloney, parishioner at Immaculate Conception who is also promoting the event. “It is amazing to see how Christ reveals himself in these particular ways (and it is) unique to see this all in one place. 

“I feel like Eucharistic Miracles are known in the church but I don’t think your average Catholic can understand that is Jesus’ body that we get to receive, this isn’t a symbol, and we become tabernacles as we exit the church. It is amazing to be in a place to see these incredible instances where Christ does reveal that deeper mystery and it becomes flesh and I think that is really special and motivating.”

Father Konopka had first heard about Blessed Carlo when he saw a video about his beatification on YouTube while working in parishes in Rensselaer County.

“When I came over here, I talked more about who he was and I really think, still do, that he can be a turnaround moment for the church, especially for our youth,” he said.

And it was one young person in particular that also inspired Father Konopka. Michael O’Brien, an altar server at the parish, and his mother, Margaret, went to New Jersey to see the exhibit and posted the story on Facebook. Trustee Maryann Haskell saw the post “and within three weeks we had scheduled this whole thing about them coming. We could have had it right after Thanksgiving but there was just not enough time. So we are doing it the Thursday after Ash Wednesday to Tuesday in the first week of Lent,” Father Konopka said. 

For O’Brien (see his story on page 13), a 9-year-old who is devoted to serving Mass, there seemed to be an instant connection to Blessed Carlo, who lived to just the age of 15 before his death from leukemia in 2006.

“Before this all happened I didn’t know that Michael had this devotion and this interest in Carlo,” Father Konopka said. “He is just a good kid. There is a beautiful joy about him, a simple joy. I think Michael lives life on life’s terms. I was at the altar and Deacon Steve Lape was preparing the chalice and Michael was in between the two of us with his elbow on the altar. I knew he was there … but I wasn’t going to get involved in this. It is great to see him up there and I am a believer that the ministers of the altar should reflect everybody in the community and it doesn’t need to be done perfectly either.”

Michael even dressed up as Blessed Carlo for Halloween.

“There is something about that connection that is interesting,” Father Konopka added. “Some people will pooh-pooh it but Michael just brings this faith to the whole thing that I wish I had some times.”

A CONNECTION

That connection is something that many people, particularly the youth, have with Blessed Carlo, who was born in 1991, lived most of his life in Milan and has been called “God’s influencer.” He was devoted to the Eucharist since his first Communion, but was an average teen, who loved soccer, but just had a way with computers. He used those skills to create an online database of Eucharistic Miracles around the world.

In various Catholic News Services stories, he had been described as “well-liked among his peers, he was devoted to daily Mass and the praying of the rosary, encouraged his mother to return to the practice of her faith, and said he was happy to die ‘because I lived my life without wasting even a minute of it on anything unpleasing to God.’ ”

In another story from 2021, CNS stated, “In ‘Christus Vivit’ (‘Christ Lives’), Pope Francis’ exhortation on young people, he said the teen was a role model for young people today who are often tempted by the traps of ‘self-absorption, isolation and empty pleasure.’

“Carlo was well-aware that the whole apparatus of communications, advertising and social networking can be used to lull us, to make us addicted to consumerism and buying the latest thing on the market, obsessed with our free time, caught up in negativity,” the pope wrote.

In February 2020, the pope formally recognized a miracle attributed to Blessed Carlo’s intercession and in October of that year, the teen was beatified during a Mass at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy. He was also the patron of the first year of the National Eucharistic Revival, which the U.S. bishops started in 2022.

“To always be close to Jesus, that’s my life plan,” Blessed Carlo once said. “Our destination must be what is infinite, not what is finite. Infinity is our homeland. We have been expected in heaven since time immemorial.”

BACK TO THE CORE

Father Konopka sees the Blessed Carlo exhibit having a multifold purpose for his parish family and the faithful of the Diocese, and it is one that is centered around the Eucharist. 

“The realization that the church is not centered in the church, it is centered in the altar. It’s the Eucharist that unites us and not some local territory, and that is a major shift. I am talking a cultural paradigm shift that will take years for it to happen,” Father Konopka said. “Embracing some of the Vatican II reality and really what the Holy Father is saying right now. Synodality. We are the people of God, not people of the local parish with our defenses up. 

“It is the opportunity for us, and I think for the priests of the Diocese and the deacons of the Diocese, to be renewed in what really is the center of our own lives, the Eucharist, and from that flows everything. I am hoping that this is going to be an impetus, that Carlo’s intercession will really push us or give us what we need. Those are some of my hopes.”

Maloney, who works for Students for Life of America, said sometimes we Catholics forget the Eucharist is Jesus

“I am reminded of this (J.R.R.) Tolkien quote in one of his letters to his son where he talks about how the Eucharist is the greatest love story, that everything that you need, you can find in the Eucharist and I think as a culture we have turned away from reverence,” Maloney said. “We have abandoned this idea of a moral guidepost and as Catholics I think sometimes we are desensitized. Sometimes we forget this is Jesus. We can get caught in the mundane and the ordinary but for the first years of Christ’s life, he lived in the ordinary. 

“It is a great way to remind ourselves that in the ordinary, there is the extra-ordinary. I think that this event is a great reminder that the Mass is how we worship and how we experience Christ Jesus and every Mass there is a miracle. Every Mass we get to receive Jesus. This event is going to display the extra-ordinary and I believe that can captivate some hearts”

Father Konopka agreed.

“I think it is important to bring us back to the core. I think it is easy, the church in the U.S., the church anywhere, to get caught up in the controversies, liberals vs. conservative, all the factions, all the problems of the church and I think, personally, we have strayed from the core, this personal relationship with Christ,” he said. “The Christ that was born and died and rose is present to us on the altar and feeds us so we can do his mission. I think in many ways, we have lost that. I think Carlo’s example is a challenge to bring us back to the core, to the root of why we are church. We are a church for Jesus Christ. It’s the simplicity of what he brings. You pray, you worship the Lord and then you go do good deeds.

“I think he is not just an example to the teenagers but to us older folks to get off our mountain and go back to what Jesus said, ‘We must become childlike’ and have that simplicity of faith that moves us ahead. Hopefully, in my opinion, that is what he is calling us to. I am curious to see what is going to happen after. My hope is that these three communities that I serve are set on fire.”


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