Editor’s note: This article was published in the March 2023 issue of the North Star Catholic.
EAGLE RIVER, Alaska — Parishioners of St. Andrew Catholic Church in Eagle River grow community and fellowship through their monthly “Revival Sundays.”
“Revival Sundays is a response to a desire to bring people together, celebrate the Mass — which is kind of the center of our faith — and then after that, share a good meal … as a parish and then dive into a specific aspect of our faith to learn about together,” said Joshua Cordes, director of evangelization at St. Andrew.
Although the monthly gatherings are associated with the National Eucharistic Revival, Cordes said the parish program was in discussion months before the Revival officially began for the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau in October.
Following multiple parish-led dialogue sessions in 2022, in association with the archdiocese following Pope Francis’ call for the “Synod on Synodality,” parish leaders found one revolving topic that parishioners mentioned: “Faith,” Cordes said, noting people questioned the correct way of living in faith, learning about faith, and sharing one’s faith.
“Revival Sundays, I think, is partially my response to that desire that was voiced,” said Cordes, who manages Revival Sundays for the parish. The parish held its first Revival Sunday on Oct. 2, 2022, Cordes said, the same day Archbishop Andrew Bellisario, C.M., inaugurated the National Eucharistic Revival for the archdiocese.
Thus, the parish’s first three monthly sessions focused on a video series about the Holy Eucharist. Cordes said the videos were also meant to tie into the National Eucharistic Revival, which had been taking place across the U.S. since June 19, 2022.
The National Eucharistic Revival is a grassroots movement of Catholics, each responding to the gift of the Eucharist in their own way, according to the Eucharistic Revival webpage, which is run by the United States Council of Catholic Bishops.
“The Eucharistic Revival is not a step-by-step plan or a series of meetings,” the webpage noted. “Rather, the revival is a grassroots call and a challenge for every Catholic across the United States to rekindle the fire of love and devotion for the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus.”
Since the parish group’s fruition, Cordes said the overall experience has been beneficial for the people attending and for the parish as a whole.
“I think it is growing,” Cordes said. “I think people were excited about something new. Communication broke kind of down (because of COVID), across the world. So, this was another way of trying to say, ‘Hey! Come back together.’ People were hungry to get back together to see their friends; you know, see people we hadn’t seen in a while.”
Revival Sundays are typically on the first Sunday of every month, Cordes said. The sessions begin with a meal after Mass, and then they move on to either a video presentation or a live speaker addressing the group.
For February, the group of parishioners watched a video series about the sacraments of penance and confession after their monthly meal. Cordes said the video explains why going to Confession periodically helps healthily build one’s relationship with Christ.
“If you’re married, you make mistakes, right?” Cordes said while making an analogy about a healthy relationship with Christ and one between a husband and wife. “You got to have that conversation with your spouse and say, you’re sorry, ‘you’re forgiven,’ and vice versa, and keep the conversation going so that the relationship is healthy. Right?
“You never talk, you never spend time with your spouse. You know, the relationship will break down,” Cordes continued. “It’s easier if you keep that conversation (with Christ) going.”
St. Andrew’s next Revival Sunday takes place on March 26. The group will host guest speaker Dr. Cheryl White, a professor of history at Louisiana State University, to discuss the Shroud of Turin.
“It’s very scientific, but it also really shows how faith and science are not opposed,” Cordes said as he explained one of White’s previous presentations. White visited the parish four years ago, Cordes said, “We had a packed house … she’s really funny … It was a joy to have her.”
For more details about Revival Sundays at St. Andrew Catholic Church, contact the parish office at 907-694-2170.