A highlight of the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress in June was the appearance of a first-class relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis and a subsequent tour of the relic through several parishes in the diocese.
That relic was a “loaner” from a parish in the Diocese of Sacramento but now, thanks to the Diocesan Ministry with Young Catholics (MYC), the Diocese has its own relic of the Italian teenager known for his devotion to the Eucharist.
The first-class relic, a lock of Blessed Carlo’s hair, arrived at the Diocesan Pastoral Center on Oct. 20, but the journey to bring it here began in August when a former MYC staffer hand delivered a formal request letter to the Sanctuary of Renunciation in Assisi, Italy. Scotty Van Horn, who was then the Communications Coordinator for the Ministry with Young Catholics, was serendipitously in Europe, traveling home from World Youth Day.
“Encouraged by the overwhelming response of our community, I set out on a solo pilgrimage to the resting place of Blessed Carlo in Assisi, Italy, in hopes of acquiring a relic of this beloved saint for our diocese,” Van Horn said.
It took another European traveler to actually bring the relic to San Bernardino. Father George Snyder, the pastor of St. Clare Parish in the Diocese of Sacramento, who had earlier loaned the Diocese his parish’s relic, was in Europe in September and was able to retrieve the relic and bring it back with him.
“It’s almost like this soon-to-be saint wants to continue this journey with the young people of our diocese,” said Berenice Villa, MYC Youth Programs Coordinator, of the providential factors that brought the relic to the diocese.
When the borrowed Blessed Carlo relic toured parishes in the diocese in May, June and July, Villa said it began to unlock an understanding and the beginnings of a devotion to the Eucharist among local youth.
“You saw a lot of young families waiting in line, waiting to bring their children,” she said of the parish tours. “You saw that faith that we thought we were losing come alive again.”
Blessed Carlo Acutis, who died from leukemia at age 15, has garnered special appeal among young people because of his use of technology to document the Eucharistic Miracles and share his devotion to the Eucharist with others of his generation.
Diocesan Archivist Arlene Gutierrez has ordered a reliquary to house our Blessed Carlo relic and it will be kept in the Diocesan Pastoral Center Chapel but made available for veneration at other locations upon request.
“This gives us the freedom to have a more profound accompaniment,” says Villa, “to build that relationship between people and the Eucharist if it’s not already there.”