Eucharistic events struggling to attract corporate funding
ORGANISERS of the International Eucharistic Congress have admitted they have had difficulty attracting corporate sponsors for the event.
The congress, which will take place in Dublin next month, will cost an estimated €11.8m.
Close to 80,000 people will fill Croke Park for the congress's closing ceremony and Mass, including President Michael D Higgins.
But the main organiser of the June 10-17 event admitted yesterday that, because of the economic climate and the changed nature of the country, finding sponsorship has proven problematic.
And the secretary general of the congress Fr Kevin Doran also revealed that raising donations for the worldwide gathering of Catholics has proved difficult.
He was speaking as the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin defended the congress, saying it had been subject to a lot of misunderstanding and criticism.
Fr Doran told the Irish Independent: "We are confident at this stage that we are within budget, we have pared things back as much as possible while being conscious of the need of a congress that is worthy of what we are celebrating."
Approximately a quarter of the €11.8m cost of hosting the event is being met through ticket sales and by selling exhibition space within the RDS to church and other groups.
One-third has been raised through collections at churches around the country while the remaining cost is being met by a national fundraising committee set up by the Bishops' Conference in Ireland.
Fr Doran confirmed that not all of the money needed had been raised yet.
"In the particular environment we are in there isn't the same level of openness to corporate sponsorship for a variety of reasons, including the fact that many companies don't have the money to give anyway," he said.
Responding to what he said was scepticism and negative reaction to the announcement of the congress initially, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said: "I look on this as a Eucharistic Congress which reflects the church in Ireland today. There is no going back to the church in 1932 or any other period.
"Some people might say compared to the numbers in 1932 it's a diminished role but I don't think that the quality of the presence of the church is diminished, I think it may actually have improved.
"I believe it will create an image of the Catholic Church which will be appropriate to our times," Archbishop Martin added, following the Summer 2012 General Meeting of the Irish Bishops Conference in Maynooth yesterday.
Between 10,000 and 12,000 people are expected to attend the congress's lectures and workshops each day in the RDS, with 7,000 people coming from overseas.