This was a day to rejoice, a day to be inspired by spirit filled testimonies from dynamic speakers, a day to experience the love of Christ.
But most importantly, the inaugural “I Thirst Orange County” event at Christ Cathedral on Nov. 19 was a day when more than 1,000 worshipers were blessed and empowered as eucharistic evangelists to go out into the world and bring others back to the Catholic Church.
“That’s why we are here today,” Bishop Timothy Freyer told the gathering at the Arboretum, where the majority of the I Thirst took celebration place. “To allow ourselves to experience this love, this mercy, this compassion, this joy, this peace that only Christ can give you. When we are rooted in Christ, we have a joy and a peace that the world cannot remove.”
The day-long I Thirst Orange County celebration was the official launch the three-year, Jesus Thirsts for America tour, a companion movement with the National Eucharistic Revival, involving events at the diocesan level followed by events at the parish level before culminating with the National Eucharistic Congress from July 17-21, 2024, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
I Thirst featured a series of speakers, delivering testimonies in three languages at three venues at the Christ Cathedral campus.
The day started with a Mass celebrated Bishop Keven Vann and Bishop Freyer. Confessions were also heard throughout the day.
Bishop Freyer said that it is not enough to sit and rejoice, but to be messengers, bringing Christ to families and friends, especially those who have drifted apart from their Catholic faith.
“We are called as ambassadors of Christ to bring his good news to our brothers and sisters who are lonely, who are afraid who are who are depressed who are nervous who are anxious who are doubting,” Bishop Freyer said. “And we are not responsible for how they respond. We are simply called to go out and be his messenger.”
I Thirst was organized by Steve Greco, permanent Deacon and Director of Evangelization and Faith Formation at the Diocese of Orange, and president of Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry, which engages in evangelization and support of the foreign missions.
“The Lord told me several years ago we must take back the darkness with the light of Christ,” Deacon Greco said. “The Lord told me over and over again how much he loves us. The Lord told me; we must say yes without reservations. It is so important that we understand that God is calling us to be all in, not to be lukewarm. Today is the day of taking back the darkness.”
DEACON STEVE GRECO, PERMANENT DEACON AND DIRECTOR OF EVANGELIZATION AND FAITH FORMATION AT THE DIOCESE OF ORANGE, ADDRESSES I THIRST ORANGE COUNTY ATTENDEES ON SATURDAY, NOV. 19
Barbara Heil, a Catholic evangelist with experience ministering to the poor, in children’s camps and inner-city missions, shared about her journey from growing up in an abusive, non-religious home to having a transformational experience while attending college in Washington.
Heil talked about living in a party house when her roommates, who had their own epiphanies and began attending church.
Heil had no interest in joining her friends at church but recalled walking into a church where her friends were to let them know she was planning to move out.
From that point, Heil can’t recall much about what happened, only that people were praying over her, and she was crying.
“What I knew that night was that God was real and Jesus really came for me,” Heil said. “I woke up the next day and the grass was greener, the sky was bluer, the sun was sunnier, and I was a brand new Barbara.”
Heil told the gathering that God has chosen them to share His love with the world, just the way she had been chosen.
“There are appointed times and seasons in the kingdom and if you are alive right now, it is for His appointed purpose, for His time in the calendar of God,” Heil said. “God is up to something, and we are all invited to be part of it. God is stirring in our hearts, not just because he loves you and me, but because he loves the world.”
Working in the ministry of healing and deliverance in the church, author and evangelist Kathleen Beckman discussed the need to live a life of “prayer and divine intimacy with Jesus Christ.”
“That is what this I Thirst movement is about,” said Beckman, author of four best-selling books, “Praying for Priests,” “God’s Healing Mercy,” “When Women Pray” and “A Family Guide to Spiritual Warfare.” “It’s about engaging souls wherever we can reach them.”
I Thirst also included music ministry performed by Donna Lee, a three-time Unity Award winner, who performed the song titled “I Thirst,” which she wrote specifically for the event.
The next I Thirst event is “I Thirst Los Angeles,” which takes place March 4, 2023, at Saint John Vianney Catholic Church in Hacienda Heights.
Said Deacon Greco: “We need you. Jesus needs you. Your family needs you. Your friends need you. The people that you come across need you.”
For more information on I Thirst and Jesus Thirsts for America, go to spiritfilledevents.com