Well, first I want to thank everyone who prayed for me yesterday. My presentation at the Eucharistic Congress in the Diocese of Raleigh went off without a hitch. I gave the same talk twice to packed rooms, and managed to not sound like an idiot. Prayer works!

But more importantly, I need to give a shout-out to the Holy Spirit, who surely was responsible for the astounding turnout — 5,000 people, many leaving home before dawn to travel great distances in buses, and an overwhelming number of them teenagers and young people. This was the first Eucharistic Congress ever held in Raleigh, and served as a kick-off to celebrating the diocese’s centennial. From what I saw at the Raleigh Convention Center Saturday, the faith and fervor of the those people is a cause for hope!

Kudos to Father Scott McCue, who spent close to 18 months spearheading this project (and who first contacted me about being a part of it over a year ago.)  I’m so grateful and humbled to have been there to expereience for myself this extraordinary moment of grace.

I also want to give a grateful diaconal bow to Deacon Ramon Ferrer, who was my “host” during the day — making sure that I got where I needed to be, that I found my way to the men’s room, that I got fed at regular intervals, and that I generally didn’t get lost in the crowd. Gracias!

I’ll leave you with this small sampling from the day: the conclusion of Morning Prayer, which included Adoration and Benediction, and some beautiful remarks by Bishop Luis Zarama — who, in a stunning gesture, knelt before the people assembled to express his love and gratitude.

On this World Mission Sunday, it is good to remember that some of the most important mission territory is in our own backyard — and that every one of us is a missionary, carrying the Good News into the world. I have no doubt that is happening in corners of North Carolina, and the people I met and spoke with Saturday are modern missionaries.

Watch, listen and take heart. Something wonderful is happening in Raleigh.