During a Mass to honor St. Robert Bellarmine Sept. 15, students on Bellarmine University’s campus were called to renew the faith and to meditate on the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
Franciscan Father John Pozhathuparambil celebrated the open-air Mass in honor of St. Bellarmine’s feast day, which the church observes Sept. 17. In a short homily, because students had to return to classes, he called on them to emulate St.Bellarmine, whom Father Pozhathuparambil said renewed the church during his time.
St. Bellarmine was born in 1542. He joined the Society of Jesus and studied at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. He became a cardinal and was declared a doctor of the church. Father Pozhathuparambil told students that the saint used his intellect to defend the church during a time when there were many questions surrounding the teachings of the Catholic faith.
“God sent him to renew the church. We need people like that now, ready to learn the faith, live the faith and clarify the faith if there are questions,” said Father Pozhathuparambil. “I hope he will inspire each of us to learn and to help others return to the faith.”
Father Pozhathuparambil also shared with those gathered that the U.S. bishops recently launched a three-year national Eucharistic Revival to increase Catholics’ understanding of the real presence. During the three years, Father Pozhathuparambil said, “We’re called to meditate on the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.”
A eucharistic procession followed the Mass. About two dozen students escorted the monstrance as the Body of Christ was carried across the school campus. The procession ended in Bellarmine’s Our Lady of the Woods Chapel, where 24 hours of adoration followed.
Father Pozhathuparambil said the procession and adoration on the campus were important because Catholics are grappling with the church’s teaching on the real presence. He referred to a Pew Research Center study released in 2019 that appeared to show 69 percent of surveyed Catholics didn’t believe in the real presence.
He wants students to know that Jesus wasn’t only a figure who lived 2,000 years ago, he said during an interview.
“Jesus is there. … I want young people to know that Jesus is there for them. Jesus is still alive. He’s living among us in the Eucharist. If they’re going through hard times, Jesus is there to help them.”
Anderson Reeves, who serves as assistant director of campus ministry, said the procession was a way for Catholic students to “connect with our Catholic heritage” but also provided an opportunity for non-Catholic students to learn about the faith and connect with Jesus.
Campus ministry and Bellarmine University Catholic Students organized the Mass and procession.