By LOU PONSI     11/9/2022

The first ever “I Thirst Orange County,” a day of prayer, music, teaching and celebration, takes place at Christ Cathedral on Saturday, Nov. 19, kicking off a three-year, 21-city Evangelical tour known as “Jesus Thirsts for America.”

Deacon Steve Greco, I Thirst organizer and Director of Evangelization and Faith Formation at the Diocese of Orange, describes Jesus Thirsts for America as a Eucharistic Revival, giving many Catholics the opportunity to experience Jesus Christ in a unique way, while enhancing their prayer life and inspiring devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Deacon Greco said he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to be a messenger for the Lord through I Thirst Orange County. Jesus Thirsts for America, and other religious events that take place on a grand scale are needed now more than ever, said Deacon Greco, who is also president of Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry, which engages in evangelization and support of the foreign missions.

“All you have to do is look at the society we are in right now, how many people are not going to church,” Deacon Greco said. “People who say they don’t believe in God is at an all-time high in our lifetimes. There needs to be almost a counter approach to what the world is offering, and this is, I believe, a great opportunity for that.”

I Thirst activities will take place in English, Vietnamese and Spanish.

The day will begin at the arboretum, starting with music ministry at 8 a.m. followed by Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin Vann and Bishop Timothy Freyer at 8:30 a.m.

Following Mass, Bishop Freyer will oversee Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Donna Lee, a three-time Unity Award winner, is scheduled to perform during the music ministry and praise worship segments of I Thirst.

Lee, whose music ministry focuses on the Eucharist, Reconciliation and Divine Mercy, will likely perform a song she wrote specifically for the event titled “I Thirst.”

The singer-songwriter drew her inspiration for the song from Psalm 143 and Psalm 42, which are both teaching psalms of David.

“The song is almost a lamenting song,” Lee said. “David is praying for comfort, guidance and deliverance. We can relate this song to ourselves because most of the petitions are for spiritual blessings and mercy and grace and that is something we need all the time in our lives. We’re crying out for help. We may not know it, but we all need God.”

Speakers for I Thirst include FatherRobert Spitzer, president of the MagisCenter of Reason and Faith, and founderof the Spitzer Center for Ethical Leadership,a nonprofit serving parishes,members of the clergy and educators.

The topic of Fr. Spitzer’s talk is, “The Holy Eucharist, Miracles and Devotion.”

Barbara Heil, a Catholic lay minister who has served as a missionary, working with poor populations in children’s camps and inner-city missions, will share on the topic of “How to win a Catholic.”

Heil will speak on the importance of obtaining the spiritual tools needed to spread’s God’s love to others, a topic she addressed at the International Eucharistic Conference in Budapest in September 2021.

“We are the hands and feet of Jesus,” Heil said. “And through our encounters with Christ, through the Eucharist, in adoration, through the scriptures, in coming to know Christ more deeply ourselves and allowing us to heal us, we become carriers of that which we partake of.”

Deacon Larry Oney, founder and president of Hope and Purpose Ministries in Louisiana, will speak on the topic of “The Holy Spirit and Evangelization.”

Also speaking will be Andi Oney, author of “Extravagant Praise: Our History, Heritage, and Hope,” in which she writes about the spiritual metamorphosis that can occur for those who praise God.

Oney will talk about her life changing experience at the International Prophetic Consultation gathering of leaders in Bethlehem, Israel, where she prayed in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, believed to be the site of the Last Supper.

Catholic radio and television personality Kathleen Beckman will deliver a talk titled “Jesus Thirsts for a New Priestly Pentecost.”

Jesus Thirsts for America is a companion movement to the National Eucharistic Revival, which is also a three-year campaign, involving events at the diocesan and parish levels and then culminating with the National Eucharistic Congress from July 17-21, 2024, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

For more information on I Thirst Orange County and the Jesus Thirsts for America movement, go to spiritfilledevents.com