28 July 2021
Csaba Böjte; Konstantin Szabó; Piero Marini, former Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations; the bullet-proof Cardinal; just to sample a few names whom we can meet on the congress’ Opening Day. Let’s see the Day speakers and the performers!

The Hungexpo programs are subject to registration and ticket purchase. Admission includes a hot lunch, moreover, the weekly or the 3 consecutive days pass ensures free public transport within Budapest.

Morning Prayer with András Veres

The Opening Day starts with a Morning Prayer (Lauds) at 08:45, celebrated by András Veres, Diocesan Bishop of Győr, and President of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Rev. András Veres as a seminarian of the Archdiocese of Eger started his theological studies at the Theological College of Eger, then completed his studies at the Theological Faculty of the Pázmány Péter Catholic University. From 1983, as a student of the Pontificum Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum of Rome, he first attended the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, which was followed by studies at the Alphonsian Academy, the Higher Institute of Moral Theology located in Rome, where he obtained a licentiate in moral theology. In 1989 he obtained a doctoral degree, then from 1990 he served as a teacher of theology and prefect at the Seminary of Eger, while performing the duties of the Docent at Pázmány Péter Catholic University’s Faculty of Theology as well. For two years he also held the position of Rector at the Pontifical Hungarian Ecclesiastical Institute. From 1998, he served as Secretary of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops' Conference for eight years. He was ordained bishop by Pope John Paul II in the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome in 2000. For six years by now he has been the President of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops' Conference. In 2016, he was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Győr by Pope Francis.

Catechesis of the “bulletproof” Cardinal

At 09:30 starts the catechesis of the “bullet-proof “Cardinal. Card. Orani João Tempesta, Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro has survived two armed robberies and even a street shootout. He does a lot to help people in need and hopes that one day Rio will be famous for its nice people living there in love and not for its natural beauty only. After graduating from high school, Orani João Tempesta joined the Cistercian Order. He was ordained priest in 1974 and served as a parish pastor. In 1997, he became the Bishop of São Jose do Rio Preto, then in 2004 he was named the Archbishop of Belem. In 2009, Tempesta was appointed Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro. In 2013, he was the host of the World Youth Day, and a year later he was created cardinal by Pope Francis.

Step in time!

The endless richness of our folk art values is foretasted by 8 duos from the Bihari folk dance ensemble, founded by Ferenc Novák choreographer. The ensemble started their work in 1954 with 20 – 22 duos, aiming to present the Hungarian folk dance on stage. Over the decades the Bihari folk dance ensemble developed to be a workshop and a phenomenon, enabling generations to become familiar with the folk dance.

To be a priest in a dictatorship

A unique testimony is going to be next in the program. Fr. Konstantin Szabó, Greek Catholic Priest, currently the Chaplain of Sislóc completed his priestly studies in secret, and was ordained priest behind closed doors. In 1945, pursuant to Stalin’s decree, the Greek Catholic priests were forced to join the Orthodox Church. Many, however, resisted, thus they were either executed or sent to the Gulags, to the forced labour camps. Konstantin Szabó was born into a priestly dynasty. Upon deciding to follow the family traditions he needed to act with the greatest possible caution all the while he attended the theological course of Elemér Ortutay. He recalls those times: “I secretly attended his private lessons, and I was absolutely unaware of who or how many other students were tutored by him. When the harassment started to increase, instead of my notes I took candies and flowers with me, as if I were going to a party. Having been under strict surveillance, I tricked the secret policy by going on different routes each time.

The entire family was running a tremendous risk. During the decades of the dictatorship, priestly families were kept under close surveillance by the state security service. “There was a moment, a breaking point, when I was about to give up. At that point uncle Elemér sent me a note: “Kiddo – that was my codename- beware of shutting the door, since it might be extremely difficult to reopen it. This thought has remained with me since.” – recalled Konstantin Szabó the hardships of the four years of studying. He had to wait until 1989 to celebrate his first own liturgy.

On the path of renewal

The Holy Mass that follows the testimony of the Greek Catholic priest, will be celebrated by Piero Marini, former Head of the Office for Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, and President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses. Cardinal Marini served as Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations under three popes: Paul VI., John Paul II., and Benedict XVI. Since 2007, he has been the President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses. Archbishop Marini accompanied Pope John Paul II on 76 of his journeys. The Archbishop had to make all journeys twice, since each papal trip had to be preceded by a preparatory visit.

In 1987, Archbishop Marini was with the Polish Pope in the O’Higgins Park of Santiago de Chile when armoured vehicles drove into the crowd that was listening to the Pope’s Holy Mass message about reconciliation and peace. The tear gas reached even the Holy Father. At the end of the ceremony the Pope cried out in a resounding voice: „Love is stronger!”

Cardinal Marini has already made several trips to Hungary. “Budapest is a real European city, in the true meaning of the word! Though the Hungarian nation has its own characteristics, still they are also real Europeans. Currently, Hungary is the heart of Europe. I do hope that the Congress itself will also help to overcome this pandemic, and it will become the symbol of the renewal not only for Hungary, but for the entire world.” – Piero Marini said about Budapest and the World Event.

Starred by music

The program will go ahead with musical productions. We can see the singer, Éva Bolba, a regular guest of the Hot Jazz Band. The songstress performs on stage as from her preschool years. She started her music studies at an early age, majoring in piano and singing, but she is great in dancing as well. She attended jazz singing courses at the Liszt Music Academy of Budapest.

The early afternoon hours are also dedicated to music. We can see on stage the Magnificat Girls’ Choir, the successor ensemble of the Magnificat Children’s Choir –founded by Valéria Szebellédi in 1990-, and the Magnificat Children and Youth Choirs. The Choir has been on stage in its current form since 2009, its members are former music students of the Erkel Ferenc Primary School.

The Choir gives concerts all around the World. Besides the standalone church concerts, as from its foundation the Choir yearly performs at the Holy Masses concelebrated by the Cardinal in the St. Stephen’s Basilica. The Choir has been awarded the Grand Prix of the European Choirs, a double winner of the Choral Olympics, and has got twice the Audience’s Award. They were also recognized with the Csokonai Vitéz Mihály and Kóta awards.

Bernadett Boda has become familiar with music in her very early years. It happened during her secondary school studies when she realised that classical music and singing is not her path at all. She started to develop herself as an autodidact, while composing music and songs. We can hear her singing in the city of Győr and its surroundings, being on stage together with the fantastic musicians of the popular Hoppáré and Dzsem band.

Csaba Böjte on the hope

After lunch and the music programs, the afternoon offers a wide range of workshops to choose from.

Csaba Böjte’s lecture on hope, titled as “Christ’s faith – our faith” starts the afternoon program. The Franciscan friar is going to present his pastoral work he has been doing among children. It all started 25 years ago in the city of Deva, Romania, by providing lunch and dinner to starving children, rescuing them and working on the ruins of the collapsing Romanian communist dictatorship. That was the year when Csaba Böjte was posted to Deva. First an 8 months old baby girl was rescued, who had been found abandoned at a train station. Since then Father Böjte and his staff have provided religious education, food and accommodation to some six thousand children in one of their orphanages that have grown into a network over the years.


Prior to engaging himself in the service of God, Father Böjte trained to be a car mechanic. The death of his poet father brought a turning point into his life. He applied – in secret – to join the Franciscan Order and was ordained priest in 1989. “We all were born to this world with a duty to be carried out, and it is of utmost importance that we do our best so as to benefit from our talent and values.”

At the source with a bishop from Cameroon

Bishop Joseph-Marie Ndi-Okalla from Cameroon delivers his speech with the title “Eucharist, the source of goodness.” He was ordained priest in 1983 and was appointed Bishop of Mbalmayo in 2016. He obtained his doctoral degree in dogmatic theology at the University in Bonn, Germany and is the author of numerous books and articles. Though Cameroon is exceptionally rich both in natural and mineral resources –mainly through its gold and diamond reserves-, still more than 40 % of the population live in deep poverty. Besides living in destitution, the people of Cameroon suffer from violence, bloody conflicts and the assaults of extremist religious groups. Interreligious dialogue and social peace are real matters of the heart for Joseph-Marie Ndi-Okalla.

The Bible through a woman’s eye

Love says – go! The Eucharist and the Christian life – thoughts that are going to be explained by Mary Healy. She is a Biblical scholar, a theologian and an associate professor at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit (USA). In 2014 Pope Francis appointed Prof Healy as one of the first three women ever to serve on the Pontifical Biblical Commissions. “This is an international group of twenty biblical scholars, meeting in Rome once a year to discuss matters related to the Church itself. Our purpose is to offer the best forms of operation that harmonise with the teachings of the Bible.” – explained Prof Healy her responsibilities in the work of the Commission. She is of the belief that women still do not have a voice strong enough, neither in theology or biblical studies, nor even in the Church in general.

“We, women think differently about the Bible than men do. We are complementary to one another. Hereby I think of the parts of the Scripture that deal with marriage, family, and children. But these are not the only questions we think differently about, but even on the Bible and the theology as a whole. Women are far more intuitive, many times they identify contexts that are not perceived by men.” – said Dr Healy.

The secrets of our faith

“Intimacy with God through the Holy Eucharist” – is the topic of Damian Stayne’s lecture. Damian is a unique speaker of the Congress. “At the medical check-up of the Institute of Oncology the doctor could not trace any sign of a cancerous tumour.” Such and similar experiences have been reported by the participants of the courses and common prayers Damian Stayne guided. Damian Stayne has served across five continents of the Globe, and wherever he set foot in, many thousands have been healed from their physical and mental distress, have received life impacting prophecies, and toned up their souls through the power of the Holy Spirit. Damian has already paid several visits also to Hungary.

In 1983 Damian Stayne quit his job, travelled to Paris to enrich his experiences about the Catholic communities. He spent some time in the Monastic Community of Jerusalem, where was deeply touched by the lively pulsation of the monastic and mystical tradition, the simplicity and beauty they were focusing on, while staying with the Emmanuel Community the charismatic ministry and the power of renewal in the Holy Spirit affected him greatly. He felt God’s invitation to found a community that can encompass all these values. Upon returning to England he spent seven and a half years fasting and praying, then in 1990 he finally founded the Cor et Lumen Christi (The Heart of light of Christ) community.

Please do not forget to register yourself for the programs! Apply tickets for the performances.

Photo: IEC