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Homily by Bishop O'Connell: Learning from Blessed Carlo Acutis to Live Eucharistic Lives

MANAHAWKIN, NJ, May 29 — At a Mass for school children and other young people at St. Mary of the Pines Church in Manahawkin, New Jersey, Trenton Bishop David O'Connell, CM, on the 42nd anniversary of his priestly ordination and on the liturgical observance of the Memorial of Pope St. Paul VI, preached a homily on what we can all learn from the example of Blessed Carlo Acutis, whose imminent canonization is expected.


This is the text of Bishop O'Connell's homily.


Every once in a while, we hear about someone who made a real difference in the world. I would like to tell you a little story today about a young boy, around your age, who did something amazing, who made a real difference in the world.  His name was Carlo Acutis --- you may have heard about him.  He was born in London, England in 1991, where his father was working.  A few months later, with his parents, he moved back to Milan, Italy, where he spent the rest of his life.  He died there in 2006 at the age of 15.


Why do I mention him to you today? The whole Catholic Church in our country is celebrating what we are calling a Eucharistic Revival, three years dedicated to the Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, which we receive at Holy Mass, beginning with our first Holy Communion and continuing throughout our lives.


Carlo Acutis had developed a special love for God, even though his parents were not very religious.  Carlo had a deep love for Jesus and especially for Mass and the Holy Eucharist.  For most of us, it is our parents who bring us to Church on Sunday but in young Carlo’s case, it was the other way around: he brought his parents to Church and not just on Sunday.  His parents became good and faithful Catholics because of him.


Last year, Carlo’s Mom came to visit our Diocese at St. Dominic’s Parish in Brick, where there is a shrine dedicated to him.  She loved her son so much and talked about his great faith and love for Jesus in the Eucharist.  She mentions that in so many was, he was like other kids his age.  He received a PlayStation when he was 8 years old.  He loved computers and gaming, played soccer, loved animals and pets, played the saxophone and made silly, funny videos of his dogs.  But there was something special about him.  His Mom couldn’t understand why he was so dedicated to God and his Catholic faith since she was not so religious.  He received his first communion at the age of 7 and went to Mass daily afterward, prayed the rosary every day and went to confession each week, stopping in Church on his way to and from school every day to pray.  By the age of 9, Carlo had spent free time helping the homeless.  He stood up to bullies in school.  He gave whatever money he could to the poor.  Yet he still had lots of friends with whom he played and had normal fun.


For Carlo, however, the most important thing in his life was the Holy Eucharist. 


He called it his “highway to heaven.” 


“To be always close to Jesus is my life plan.” 


He visited Church every day and prayed before the Blessed Sacrament.  “By just standing before the Eucharist, we become holy.”


He said, “Throngs of people stand in interminable lines to buy tickets to rock concerts or soccer matches,” Carlo once said, “but I don’t see crowds of people lined up outside church waiting to see Jesus in the Eucharist. This should make us pause and reflect.”


Carlo Acutis made a real difference in so many peoples lives because of his faith and love for Jesus in the Eucharist.  He never hesitated to share that faith and love with others, especially young people.  With his computer skills, Carlo spent the last two years of his life creating a website that listed every miracle the world had known about the Eucharist.  It is still used and touring around New Jersey and the US.  This young boy made a real difference in the Church and the world!


By the time he was 15, young Carlo developed leukemia and died, following Jesus on the “highway to heaven.”  He soon will be canonized a saint!


I have told you about him in the hope that he will inspire you to grow in your own love and devotion to the Holy Eucharist.  During this day as we spend time here at Mass and in the presence of our Lord Jesus and in our conversations together, may Blessed Carlo Acutis help us to stay close to our Lord, to pray each day and to do good works for those in need, as he did.



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