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Eucharistic Congress scales back numbers, confident on finances

Organizers of the upcoming Eucharistic Congress say they are on track to sell more than 50,000 tickets for the July event, and that ticket sales and fundraising are expected to cover the event’s costs. 

Bishop Andrew Cozzens presents the Eucharistic Congress to bishops of the USCCB in November 2021. Credit: U.S. bishops' conference.

While the number of expected attendees is fewer than organizers initially projected, Congress leaders say that the event’s venue, Lucas Oil Stadium, can hold fewer people for the event than was initially thought.

But with nearly half of already-sold tickets for the Congress distributed in blocks to U.S. dioceses, projecting actual attendance for the event remains difficult, even as organizers say they are optimistic that families will buy tickets to the event in the weeks to come.

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While Congress organizers had until recently projected that 80,000 U.S. Catholics would attend the Eucharistic Congress, CEO Tim Glemkowski told The Pillar last week that projection has been adjusted as logistical details for the event shape up.

“Lucas Oil Stadium holds 62,000 people for a football game. And by the time you start putting in staging and different seats that get blocked off, the maximum capacity of the stadium at any one time is going to be closer to 50,000.”

“So this, I think, is part of the experience of not having done a [Eucharistic Congress] in 81 years in the U.S., learning what venues can actually hold for this event by the time you do all the production stuff. I think one of the lessons was that the hoped-for projections of what the stadium could support have been lowered, by the time everything was said and done.”

Glemkowski said that logistics, not interest or ticket sales, led to a readjustment of attendance expectations among organizers. 

But he also acknowledged that ticket sales themselves are likely to land near 50,000 attendees for the July 17-21 events — the event is not expected to gather the 80,000 initially projected..

Glemkowski told The Pillar last week that 36,800 tickets had been sold to date. More than 3,500 of those tickets are day passes to individual days at the Congress, while about 34,000 are passes for the entire five-day event. 

But projecting attendance at the Congress is not simple.

Slightly more than half of the event’s five-day passes already sold — 17,686 in total — were sold last year to U.S. dioceses, which will either give them away or allow local Catholics to purchase them at a discounted rate. But with local dioceses still organizing pilgrimage groups to the national event, national organizers don’t yet have a clear count on how many of those tickets will actually be used.

“It’s hard to approximate exactly what percentage [of diocesan-purchased tickets] might go unused,” Glemkowski told The Pillar.  “But we anticipate it being small at this point, given the increased interest in the Congress we are seeing as it gets closer, and the more concrete promotion efforts we are seeing from many dioceses.”

“We have called around to all the dioceses that have a substantial number of tickets not ‘allocated’ yet,” Glemkowski added, “and we were encouraged to find that the vast majority had a concrete plan for how they already had distributed them or were planning to do so.” 

Glemkowski said he’s optimistic about ongoing ticket sales in the months to come. 

Since day passes went on sale in January, the Congress has sold almost 1,000 each month. But Glemkowski said that in the next few months, as families firm up plans for attendance, he expects the pace of those ticket sales to increase. 

“The day passes are going to sell much closer to the event,” Glemkowski told The Pillar, as families decide whether to travel to Indianapolis, and for how long they might stay.  

Glemkowski also told The Pillar that roughly 800 “Solidarity Fund” passes have been distributed, for free, to attendees unable to afford the cost of a ticket — which starts at $300 for five-day attendance

The number of Solidarity Fund tickets given out by the Eucharistic Congress is expected to climb, Glemkowski said, with nearly $1 million raised in a designated fund to pay for them.

“We’re getting new applications every day, and we hope to distribute all of the money. There’s a review process which takes a little bit of time, but we’re really excited about what that has made possible. It broke our hearts to hear people say: ‘I want to come, but we just can’t afford it.’”


As the Eucharistic Congress plans attendance in Indianapolis, it has also focused on fundraising.

Glemkowski said money for the event — and for the Eucharistic pilgrimages which will precede it — have come from ticket sales, sponsorships and donations, and other event revenue, like vendor space rentals at Congress exhibit halls.

According to figures provided by organizers, the Congress projects that between 2022 and the end of the event, it will realize $23.3 million in total revenue — with roughly $10 million from ticket sales, $12.1 million from sponsorships and donations, and $1.1 million in other revenue.

Organizers expect to have spent almost $22 million by the time the July event is over, with $17.4 million on the Congress, the Eucharistic pilgrimages preceding it, and other expenses for the USCCB’s Eucharistic Revival, and with $4.6 million spent on operations.

Glemkowski told The Pillar that, to date, the Congress has sold $7.6 million worth of tickets — and expects to sell another $2 or $2.5 million in tickets by July — which would involve selling almost 8,000 more full-event passes, 20,000 to 25,000 day or weekend passes, or some combination of them both. 

“The next few months will determine what ticket sales will really do,” Glemkowski said. 

“We’ve seen a growing enthusiasm for the Congress,” he added, which he believes will translate into more sales.

Glemkowski added that fundraisers are close to reaching their $12 million goal in cash and pledges, and that much of the support for the event had come from interested Catholics, rather than from a few large organizations. 

Glemkowski said he could not disclose how much of the money was committed by major sponsors — which include organizations like Relevant Radio, the Knights of Columbus, the Augustine Institute, and Our Sunday Visitor.

But while he declined to outlay figures, Glemkowski said those organizations are not responsible for the lion’s share of the Congress’ cash. 

“The majority of our philanthropic support was from private benefactors who gave through donor advised funds and other vehicles,” Glemkowski told The Pillar. “The development effort was spread very broadly; there are no individual foundations or donors which gave a large percentage of our development total.” 

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The Congress declined to provide a concrete budget for the July event itself. 

But Glemkowski told The Pillar that the costs for the Indianapolis event are expected to land at “pretty close” to $14 million, the figure used by Bishop Andrew Cozzens, who is chairing the event, since November 2022 — after an initial projection of $28 million saw pushback from bishops, Catholic media, and Catholics online.

“There are a lot of things you have to pay for with a 50,000 person event, which people might not think about at first,” Glemkowski told The Pillar.

“You have the stadium and the convention center, production, transportation, security, technology for registration, several hundred thousand dollars in licensing. We’re working with union laborers on so many production elements. There are accessibility costs and exhibit halls, and stages for concerts, and even, like, signage so people know where to go. Things are costly.”

Security, Glemkowski said, is a significant cost because of the presence of thousands of families, dozens of bishops, and the possibility of controversy over the event.

“We’ve gotten really good advice already from really significant officials in the government about things we should be thinking about with an event this size. In this day and age, with the craziness in the world that is so heartbreaking, when people come into Lucas Oil Stadium, we’re making sure they can feel confident that they’re in a safe place, where they can have an experience of prayer without a feeling of threat.”

The Congress has also been thoughtful about what it will pay speakers and musicians, Glemkowski said.

“At the Congress office, we’re all lay people who work in the Church. So there is a sensitivity among us about wanting to honor and value people’s work. At the same time, because this Congress is such a big moment for the Church, most of our speakers and musicians are doing this event for less than a typical fee, for the sake of how important they see this mission.”

Glemkowski said that with talks, panels, breakout and worship sessions, and sponsored events, there will be hundreds of speakers and musicians at the Congress. Many breakout speakers will be paid less than $1,000, Glemkowski said, with keynote speakers paid a “few thousand” — a lesser amount than the speaking fees offered at some Catholics conferences and events.

The costs will also include the liturgical costs associated with 18 different Masses over the course of the event — along with coordinators for liturgies.  

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After the event, Glemkowski said the Congress organization hopes to remain at work, supporting parishes and dioceses with follow-up programming and events — even while Glemkowski himself has announced that he’ll leave the organization after July Eucharistic Congress..  

“I think one of the things we're excited about is the idea that this organization, we feel like the mission of Eucharistic Revival is a generational project. And so we really hope that this organization continues to do that work.”

“If there is money left over after Congress itself — if things go better than we expect — then we hope that money will continue the mission of the Eucharistic Revival  — for the sake of more people having a living relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist. 

“We think 100% of Catholics should have that relationship.”

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