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GUESTS PRAISE ‘JESUS THIRSTS: THE MIRACLE OF THE EUCHARIST’ AT ITS PREMIERE

THE NEW DOCUMENTARY WILL SCREEN IN THEATERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY ON JUNE 4, 5 AND 6

By GREG HARDESTY     5/28/2024

THE BRIGHT LIGHTS OF Hollywood came to the Christ Cathedral campus on May 7 as 300 invited guests enjoyed a red-carpet unveiling of the new film, “Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist,” which will be in theaters nationwide June 4, 5 and 6.

A RED CARPET PREMIERE FOR THE NEW FILM, “JESUS THIRSTS: THE MIRACLE OF THE EUCHARIST,” TOOK PLACE ON MAY 7 ON THE CHRIST CATHEDRAL CAMPUS.

BISHOP KEVIN VANN GREETS THE MEDIA AT THE MAY 7 PREMIER OF THE NEW FILM, “JESUS THIRSTS: THE MIRACLE OF THE EUCHARIST.” PHOTOS BY IAN TRAN/DIOCESE OF ORANGE

Coinciding with the three-year national Eucharist Revival movement in the U.S., the documentary is being heralded by its producers and Diocese leaders as a potentially life-changing film that comes at a time when millions have strayed from the Catholic Church.

“This can transform the face of the Earth – that’s how important this film is,” said executive producer Steve Greco, a permanent deacon and director of evangelization and formation for the Diocese of Orange who serves at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Irvine.

DR. ERIN BARISANO, SUPERINTENDENT OF CATHOLIC SCHOOLS IN THE DIOCESE OF ORANGE, DISCUSSES THE FILM “JESUS THIRSTS: THE MIRACLE OF THE EUCHARIST,’’ DURING A SPECIAL RED CARPET EVENT ON THE CHRIST CATHEDRAL CAMPUS.

The 91-minute movie, co-sponsored by Deacon Steve’s Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry, which engages in evangelization and support of Catholic missions abroad, and the Diocese of Orange, hop-scotches around the world to such places as Poland, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Uganda, Slovenia and Canada as prominent Catholic leaders offer insights and testimonies into the power of the Eucharist.

Parishes, dioceses and ministries in Orange County and throughout the country are being encouraged to show up for the U.S. screenings of the film, which is co-produced by James Wahlberg and Tim Moriarty. Postcards, fliers, social media graphics, videos and other resources can be downloaded from JesusThirstsFilm.com.

Tickets are available through Fathom Events (fathomevents.com), the entertainment content provider that broadcasts events in movie theaters.

‘MORE THAN JUST A STORY’
With two showtimes each day making the film more accessible for families, schools and religious education, the film includes a special bonus feature, “Our Lady of Guadalupe: Woman of the Eucharist,” produced by the Knights of Columbus.

And the screenings on June 6 will include subtitles in Spanish.

“We offer you more than just a story: We offer you a journey of faith,” Bishop Kevin Vann says in the movie’s intro.

The film, he tells viewers, “Seeks to ignite the hearts of all believers and deepen our understanding of the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist.”

MOVING THE NEEDLE
Inside the atrium of the Cultural Center on the Christ Cathedral campus, more than 20 media outlets snapped photos and interviewed filmmakers and members of the cast as they made their way down the red carpet.

“Movies are a very important medium and tool,” said Fr. Jacob Hsieh, a Norbertine priest at St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado who will be leading a 52-week follow-up program that will serve as a ministry companion to the film.

“Working together to get the truth out and have the Eucharist in the mainstream media is really amazing to see,” Fr. Jacob added.

DISTRESSING STATISTICS

In an oft-cited statistic from a 2019 Pew Research poll, only three out of 10 Catholics believe in the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. And in the U.S. alone, there are a total of 50 million ex-Catholics.

At the premiere, Bishop Vann focused on the positive as he talked to reporters.

“Don’t trust statistics,” he said. “Everyone I know believes Christ is present in the Eucharist,” adding that he was pleased with the turnout at the premiere.

Fr. Jacob agreed with Bishop Vann that “Jesus Thirsts” could move the needle foward in terms of getting more Catholics back into pews and believing in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Before the screening, guests sipped citrus-infused water and enjoyed appetizers as they met members of the movie’s production team, which includes producer Jim Wahlberg, director and writer Tim Moriarty, producer and writer Stefan Slovak, editor Marc Boudignon, and composer Sean Beeson.

‘ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL’
Bishop Vann said a prayer before the screening, noting that a few entertainment offerings his grandmother never missed were the TV soap opera “As the World Turns” and Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s “Life is Worth Living” inspirational TV series.

“Are you on fire for Jesus?” Deacon Steve asked as he got the crowd excited.

“Are you on fire for the Eucharist?”

Afterward, attendees praised the movie.

“I thought it was absolutely beautiful,” said Dr. Erin Barisano, superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Orange. “The film draws the viewers into the very heart of the Eucharist as the living presence of Christ,” Dr. Barisano added.

“The vignettes throughout the movie weave a beautiful tapestry of the power of the Eucharist throughout history and in contemporary culture.”

She continued: “I was moved to tears throughout the film, overcome by the power, beauty, and mystery of the Eucharist. I’m so proud to be part of a Diocese that has taken a bold step to show the rest of the world that the Eucharist is real and true, and it is something each of us needs to make us whole.”

Katie Dawson, director of Parish Evangelization and Faith Formation for the Diocese of Orange, called the movie “tremendously impactful.”

Vince Vasquez, Knights of Columbus Orange chapter president, called it “powerful, informative and inspiring.”

Added Vasquez: “The movie is eye-opening to the power of the Eucharist and to the power of the miracles of the Eucharist. I’m going to recommend this movie highly, especially to all Knights of Columbus.

“I’m not going to spoil the movie, but the last scene moved me so much that I walked directly over to the (Eucharistic vessel). It was closed, but I stood outside it and prayed.”