BRICK, NJ (CNS) – A beatified teenager’s passionate love for the Eucharist has been on display to a group of Catholic students in New Jersey as American Catholics embark on a three-year Eucharistic renewal.
Students at St. Dominic’s School in The Brick sang and prayed April 28, the day Bishop of Trenton David M. O’Connell came for a special Mass, celebrating the life of Blessed Carlo Acutis and his devotion to the real presence of Christ.
Bishop O’Connell marked the official reception of the arrival of a relic of the young man who was beatified by Pope Francis in 2020.
“Today we are blessed to receive the relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis, a young boy recognized by the Catholic Church as a saint,” he told students at the start of the mass, which was broadcast in live on the Diocesan YouTube channel.
Bishop O’Connell went on to explain how showing respect for the relics of saints in the Catholic Church is a custom that dates back to the second century of the Church.
“Relics usually include a portion of the physical remains of a saint or ‘blessed’ held in remembrance of his holiness of life and virtue,” the bishop said. “Their relics carry significant meaning for worshipers of all ages. In our Holy Mass this morning, we express our love for Jesus in the Eucharist, which was so much a part of Carlo Acutis’ life.
The relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis was brought to the Diocese of Trenton by Father Marian Kokoryczki, Parish Vicar of St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, who acquired it during a recent pilgrimage he made to Assisi, Italy, where the tomb of Blessed Carlo Acutis is located. the sanctuary of the Annunciation, which is part of the Sainte-Marie-Majeure church.
“This saint is exactly what the church, the world and families need more than ever,” Fr. Kokoryczki said.
Announcing that Blessed Carlo Acutis — the first millennial to be beatified by the Catholic Church — would become patron of all Catholic schools and youth in the Diocese of Trenton, Bishop O’Connell prayed that his example be a blessing for the young people of the diocese.
He reflected in his homily on how students in Catholic schools discover the “great saints of the Church”, most of whom had lived centuries earlier and in distant places.
“We see their faces in pictures, windows and statues in churches,” Bishop O’Connell said. “We read and hear about them and the amazing things they did. Yet today we remember a young Catholic schoolboy, not too senior to us, who lived not so long ago , who from an early age had only one thing in mind: to become a saint!
While Carlo, who was born in 1991 and “wasn’t too different from us” in that he had lots of friends, loved sports, had pets and loved playing video games and doing videos, “there was something very special about young Carlo,” the bishop said.
“He used to say: ‘Always being close to Jesus: this is my life plan.’ And from his first days on earth he lived that way,” the Bishop said, recounting how Carlo received Holy Communion and prayed the Rosary daily, spent time in church and prayed regularly before the Eucharist, and volunteered to help others.
Carlo’s joyful faith and love inspired his parents to return to church and before he died of leukemia aged 15 in 2006, he developed a website about the Eucharist.
“Blessed Carlo Acutis inspires us to see that holiness is possible for young people,” Bishop O’Connell said. “Although we don’t consider ourselves saints, we can become saints!”
“Our children need someone they can look up to, someone they look up to, and Blessed Carlo is an example of that,” said Father Brian Patrick Woodrow, pastor of St. Dominic’s Catholic Church.
Describing Blessed Carlo as ‘relatable’, Layla De La Paz and Anthony Streeter, both seventh graders at St. Dominic’s School, were inspired by the sainthood candidate’s use of technology to teach others the Catholic faith.
“Technology is a big part of our world” and it has had a big influence on how the Catholic faith is practiced today, De La Paz said, adding that she found the presence of the relic of the blessed Carlo – who will remain in her parish – can be a way “for us to remember him and all the good he has done”.
“The fact that Blessed Carlo has been chosen as the patron saint of schools in the Diocese of Trenton is a huge inspiration to young teenagers,” said Olivia Termotto, an eighth grade student at St. Rose of Lima School. in Freehold, New Jersey.
“It’s important to have someone our age to look up to who had such a brilliant mind and personality, no matter what challenges he faced.”
Stadnyk is associate editor of The Monitor, the newspaper of the Diocese of Trenton.