By LOU PONSI     9/8/2022

A three-year, 21-city Evangelical tour titled “Jesus Thirsts for America” will kick off at the iconic Christ Cathedral on Nov. 19.


The inaugural event, which is titled “I Thirst Orange County” will include Mass, prayer, teaching, confession, music ministry and a call to action.

With the tagline, “Where Eucharistic Revival Empowers Evangelization,” the Jesus Thirsts for America tour is being launched as a companion movement with the National Eucharistic Revival, which is also a three-year campaign 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.

“Four things we want to accomplish,” said event organizer 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. “Eucharistic Revival with every heart, every person, every parish and every community. We want to lead people with a revival of experiencing Jesus Christ in a unique way. We want individuals to develop a personal relationship with Christ to enhance their prayer life and we want to inspire devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

Bishop Timothy Freyer will celebrate Mass at the Nov. 19 event.

“With a heightening of issues such as depression, suicidal ideation, loneliness amongst the population, the Church wants it to be known that Jesus thirsts to be in a relationship with you,” said Bishop Freyer.

He added, “Jesus is thirsting to let you know you are loved, to let you know His love is so great that He died on the cross so you could have hope. This event is to try to help people be filled with that hope, be filled with that joy, be filled with that sense of being loved and then to go share it with their brothers and sisters.”

Deacon Greco, who said he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to be a messenger for the Lord through I Thirst Orange County, is also among the presenters.

One inspiring presenter will be Barbara Heil, a longtime minister with experience ministering to the poor, in children’s camps and inner-city missions. Heil discovered late in life that she had been baptized as a child in the Catholic Church. She received the Rite of Confirmation in 2013 and has since ministered around the world.

Father Robert Spitzer will also present at the event. Fr. Spitzer is president of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith and the Spitzer Center for Ethical Leadership, a nonprofit educational organization focused on the relationships of philosophy, reason, physics and faith.

Also presenting will be Deacon Larry Oney of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and his wife Andi Oney.

Deacon Oney is the founder and president of Hope and Purpose Ministries in Louisiana, which he created in part to provide mentorship through the creation and distribution of Catholic materials in all forms of media.

In 2013, Andi Oney attended an 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.

Evangelist Kathleen Beckman, author of four best-selling books, “Praying for Priests,” “God’s Healing Mercy,” “When Women Pray” and “A Family Guide to Spiritual Warfare” will also speak.

“The presentations are geared towards the love of the sacraments, focusing on the Eucharistic Revival and encouraging people to not only be disciples of Jesus Christ but to also make the decision of doing what he asked us to do which is translated evangelization,” said Katie Hughes, Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry board member and spokesperson for I Thirst. “We need the Heavenly Bread in order for that to happen. We commit ourselves as a church and so the Diocese of Orange is the catalyst for I Thirst and we are passionate about exposing people to renew their faith.”

Another key portion of I Thirst Orange County according to Deacon Greco, will be a “call to action,” in which attendees will be asked to leave their seats and a Bishop, priest, deacon or lay leader will place hands on them and commission them to be missionary disciples in spreading the word of the Eucharist.

“The Eucharist is Jesus giving himself to us at Holy Communion, so we tie it into the Eucharistic Revival,” Bishop Freyer said. “And it’s also a recognition that the Lord wants nothing more for us than to be in a relationship with Him, not because he needs us, but because his love is so great, He wants to share it with us.”

Follow up events will take place after the Nov. 19 kickoff and could include group discussions and video presentations.