We are an apostolic group of priests, deacons and brothers drawn together by our common desire to live the mystery of the Eucharist to the full. Our mission in the Church is to respond to the hungers of humanity by making the Eucharist known, loved and lived. We collaborate with lay men and women in building up Christian communities whose life is centred on the Eucharist.
We live our lives together in community, united by our Eucharistic mission and by the public profession of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Our life in common is inspired by the ideals of our Rule of Life, approved by the Church in 1984.
We were founded on 13 May 1856 in Paris by Fr Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868). Fr Eymard was canonized by Pope Blessed John XXIII at the Second Vatican Council in 1962, partly on the basis of the miraculous cure of a Melbourne woman Mariadora Bartels from heart disease. St Peter Julian was placed on the universal calendar of the Church in 1996 and his feast day is observed on 2 August.
Since our foundation in 1856 the priests, deacons and brothers of the Congregation, together with the religious women of our Sister Congregation, have reached all continents of the globe and continue the mission begun by St Peter Julian, Apostle of the Eucharist.
As sons of St Peter Julian, we Blessed Sacrament religious want the mystery of the Eucharist to be lived in its fullness. We believe that Christ in the Eucharist has the power to effect a radical transformation in our society and in all people. The powerful love of the Eucharist motivates and strengthens all to work for the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom on earth.
The Congregation now has just over 900 religious around the world. In addition two archbishops and six bishops have been called forth from our ranks, mainly in developing countries.
Our Australian foundation dates from 1929 when the first group of religious from Canada and the United States arrived at St Francis’ Church in Melbourne.
Our life and mission are based on the eucharistic charism of St Peter Julian Eymard. He was inspired to see the Eucharist as the sacrament of Christ’s abiding love. We seek to live the Eucharist in celebration, in prayer and in ministry. As Blessed Sacrament religious we want the mystery of the Eucharist to take hold of us so completely that we live it fully and proclaim its meaning in all that we do and are.
We proclaim the reality of God’s love in the Eucharist by our ‘gift of self’ to Him and to our brothers and sisters. This gift of ourselves is deepened through prayer in the presence of the abiding sacrament and is realised in an apostolic life of eucharistic evangelization.
We engage in eucharistic evangelizing in a whole variety of ways: celebrating the sacraments, writing, teaching, preaching, counselling, and working for justice. In the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, we encourage a contemporary eucharistic spirituality and promote authentic liturgical celebration and eucharistic devotion. We minister to priests and religious and collaborate with committed laity in the service of our eucharistic mission.
We promote a parish-based catechetical program of Eucharistic Evangelization called Life in the Eucharist (LITE). LITE is a worldwide movement comprised of laity, religious, and clergy who work together to empower Catholics to deepen their understanding and appreciation of the Eucharistic Mystery. The principal means for this is the LITE seminar conducted by lay teams, in collaboration with Blessed Sacrament and other religious and diocesan clergy.
We are active in the ecumenical movement because the eucharist is the sacrament of unity.
We minister to the sick whether in hospital or at home by enabling them to receive the sacrament of the eucharist in Holy Communion.
As our Rule says, we seek to make our parishes places of proclamation, places of prayer and festive celebration, places of sharing and fellowship, and places of freedom and human development. Our city-centre churches are oases of peace and reconciliation in the midst of busy cities.
Our eucharistic mission takes many forms:
• celebration of the Eucharist
• prayer and contemplation
• preaching the Word of God
• ministering the sacrament of reconciliation
• liturgical education and formation
• chaplaincies to lay groups and tertiary students
• pastoral counselling
• spiritual direction
The purpose of formation is to accompany those who feel called by God to live the mystery of the Eucharist fully and assist them in responding to this call. It aims to help them discern the call of God in their lives, identify the gifts the Lord has given them, and enable them to put these gifts unreservedly at the service of the kingdom, whether in the Blessed Sacrament Congregation or in another way of life deemed more suitable.
Candidates (mature age candidates are welcome) are introduced by stages into the life and mission of the Congregation. Initial formation is effected in three stages, each under the guidance of a director. The first (the pre-novitiate) emphasizes the personal discovery of Christ; the second (the novitiate) focuses on vocation, on initiation into religious life especially as it is lived in our Congregation; the third (the scholasticate) aims at integrating religious life, studies, human development and apostolic experience into a unified whole.
In the beginning candidates live outside our communities. Later on they become postulants and share the life of one or more of our communities. This pre-novitiate period consists of two phases: aspirancy and postulancy.
Aspirancy is a time of preliminary enquiry. The aspirant follows his call in dialogue with the Director of Initial Formation. There is occasional participation in community activities such as prayer services and meals, engagement in some ministry and guided reading. The aspirant continues to live at home and to work as usual, maintaining financial independence.
Postulancy is a time of preparation for entry into the novitiate. It is aimed at helping the potential member discern his call to our particular way of life. The postulant ordinarily takes up residence in one of our communities while maintaining his existing employment, studies or professional activities. Postulancy is normally not less than six months and no more than two years.
If at the conclusion of postulancy there is mutual agreement between the candidate and the Congregation, the candidate would proceed to the next phase, that of the novitiate, and later on to the scholasticate. However formation is never over and done with: it is a life-long process. The call to discipleship is always a present challenge.