Young Catholics from around the archdiocese got “a taste of heaven” at a special Advent gathering organized as part of the ongoing Eucharistic Revival initiative. 

The Dec. 3 evening of reflection and fellowship for young adults at Holy Family in Glendale included Mass, adoration, and a shared meal, offering teens and young adults time to spend in prayer — and with each other. The event was organized by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Office of Divine Worship. 

“An encounter with Christ present in the Eucharist can become a pivotal moment in the walk of faith,” said organizer Amaris Hernandez of the Office of Divine Worship. She told Angelus the evening was an opportunity for people to “immerse themselves in the boundless love and mercy of God.” 

Father Michael Mesa (front) and Father Matthew Wheeler (back) distribute communion at the Holy Family youth night. (Ron Echual)

The nationwide Eucharistic Revival movement was launched earlier this year by the U.S. bishops to promote greater understanding and participation in the sacrament of the Eucharist. The initiative was prompted in part by reports that a growing number of U.S. Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and an overall decline in Mass attendance and infant baptisms among U.S. Catholics. 

Officially launched in June 2022, the revival is taking place over the next three years in dioceses around the country. In Los Angeles, Archbishop Gomez led a Eucharistic Congress on Aug. 13 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, where some 3,500 people came together for talks, prayer, and adoration. The revival initiative will end in July 2024, with an event in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

For the more than 50 young Catholics who came, the Glendale event was a chance to prepare for Christ’s birth this Christmas and to appreciate the importance of the Eucharist. 

“In a few hours, I experienced a journey with guidance and teaching,” said Joshua Hernandez, 29. “I received a taste of heaven.” 

Father Parker Sandoval, vice chancellor for ministerial services for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, gave a meditation on the road to Emmaus before participants broke into small groups to discuss. (Ron Echual)

“Advent represents a new liturgical year, and I hope symbolically it also represents the beginning of new relationships … [for] those gathered,” said Karen Luna, coordinator of young adult ministry for the archdiocese. 

Luna has also served as the archdiocesan coordinator for the local phase of the ongoing Synod on Synodality. She said that a common theme among young adults in local synod listening sessions held earlier this year was “the need to feel welcomed, to belong.” 

“We hope that having gatherings like these [addresses] the desires of our young church,” said Luna.