Focus on importance of Eucharist in fourth video in ‘Foundations’ series

Ana Rodas, assistant director of the Office of Divine Worship, and Father Luke Spannagel, a priest of the Diocese of Peoria who is serving as a preacher for the National Eucharistic Revival, share their thoughts about what the Eucharist means in their lives of faith as part of the fourth video in a series based on the Five Foundations of Growing Disciples. (Screenshot/Fiat Films)

Ana Rodas describes herself as “a young woman on fire for Jesus.”

“I love Jesus — he’s so cool. He’s the only one I’ve ever called my best friend,” she said. “Of course I want to talk to people about him.”

As the assistant director of the diocese’s Office of Divine Worship, one of the masters of ceremony to Bishop Louis Tylka, and the sacristan at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, Rodas has many opportunities to do just that.

But she recently added another way — a video conversation with Father Luke Spannagel that is geared toward deepening awareness of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It is the fourth in a series based on the Five Foundations of Growing Disciples upon which Bishop Tylka is building a vibrant, mission-driven church within the Diocese of Peoria.

Previous videos have explored evangelization, discipleship and vocations. The fifth, which is scheduled for release in July, will look at the legacy of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen. All of them can be found at

The videos have been filmed by Sam Mangieri of Fiat Films at Sacré-Coeur Retreat House in Magnolia.

The timing is especially appropriate for the video on the Eucharist as the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ — also known as Corpus Christi — is celebrated in June.


This isn’t the first time Rodas and Father Spannagel have crossed paths. He was the chaplain at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center in Champaign when she was in her first year there. He confirmed her and she received Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time from him.

At Sacred Heart Church in Peoria, Father Luke Spannagel stands next to a banner outlining Bishop Louis Tylka’s Five Foundations for Growing Disciples. The foundations impact our daily living, he said. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Graphic arts wasn’t the only thing Rodas was studying at the University of Illinois. She admits to staying on to earn her master’s degree so she could get to know God and eventually became the head sacristan at St. John’s Catholic Chapel.

Father Spannagel is helping others to understand the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist as one of the preachers for the National Eucharistic Revival. This special assignment has taken him around the Diocese of Peoria, as well as the United States.

“Bishop Lou, in naming the Eucharist as one of the Five Foundations, is recognizing the importance of the Eucharist as the true source and summit of our faith — our greatest treasure,” Father Spannagel told The Catholic Post.

Highlights of the video discussion for him included having an opportunity to talk about church teaching and Scripture passages about the Eucharist. Most of all he enjoyed being able to share his faith with Rodas, especially their own stories of coming to Jesus in the Eucharist.

“Certainly for me as a priest, what it means to celebrate Mass, pray it together with God’s people,” he explained. “Then sharing some impact stories through the years, different moments that recall for me the gift we have there in Jesus present.”

Father Spannagel said the video could model what that kind of faith sharing looks like.

“I hope it will be an invitation. Maybe in some ways it will be a practical reminder of the gift that we have,” he said. “Maybe in some ways there will be an invitation to learn more, to go deeper. Maybe there will be invitation to share more.”


Rodas said she hoped the video would make God relatable — and Jesus, too.

“God coming to Earth in the form of a man and entering into our flesh and bones was a promise of God saying, ‘You were mine from the beginning and the end goal is for you to come back.’” — Ana Rodas

“When you approach prayer, when you sit down and you look at Jesus in the tabernacle or in the monstrance, you don’t need to do anything,” she said. “Just by your mere presence, you’re bringing a smile to his face. It’s more so what we need to hear from him, because he’s calling us ‘Beloved.’ He’s calling us his children. He’s telling us that we’re chosen and he wants to hold us forever.”

Eucharist literally means “thanksgiving” and that’s what it is her, she told The Catholic Post.

“My heart says it’s a promise,” she said. “I think because God coming to Earth in the form of a man and entering into our flesh and bones was a promise of God saying, ‘You were mine from the beginning and the end goal is for you to come back.’”

Rodas added that she wants people to know it’s OK to be awkward with Jesus in adoration, that it’s OK to have the whole range of emotions that you would have with anyone else.

“Jesus can take it, and in fact, he already knows it,” she said. “The act of us saying it and knowing it or acknowledging it, it opens our heart just enough to let him come in.”

The Five Foundations impact our daily living, how we live in Christ, and how we share that with others, according to Father Spannagel. And they help us to understand that we must do it together.

“The foundations strengthen us and prepare us for daily living, but also help us understand who we are as a church, as the Diocese of Peoria, and how we live together as we look forward,” he said.

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