Of the three major international Catholic celebrations taking place in 2008, the Eucharistic Congress seems to be the "cinderella". It takes place in Quebec, Canada, from 15th June to the 22nd June.
I do find it encouraging that the Congress is one of the centre piece events of the 400th anniversary year of the foundation of Quebec. In terms of civil policy (eg on same sex unions), Canada is not necessarily on the side of the angels. However, there does appear to be a positive collaboration between the Catholic Church and civil authorities in the arrangements for the Congress.
The theme of the Congress is "The Eucharist: gift of God for the life of the world". In the early stages of the preparation for the Congress, the young people of Canada asked for a symbol of the Congress that could be taken on visits to parishes, schools etc, during the time leading up to the Congress. They remembered the experience of the pilgrimage of the World Youth Day Cross leading up to the WYD in Toronto, and were looking for something similar. The result is the Ark of the Covenant, which is presently on a voyage of pilgrimage across Canada.
The Ark is shaped like a boat, and is designed to encourage the three strands of activity associated with a Eucharistic Congress :
Catechesis: The base of the Ark is shaped like the hull of a boat. The deck supports a rectangular coffer decorated with icons depicting Gospel scenes. These illustrations can serve as springboards for Eucharistic catecheses.
Liturgy: The roof of this structure is designed to hold either the Bible, or a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament. The Ark can be carried in procession, and used as a focus for prayer.
Commitment: The Ark is designed to receive commitment forms from the faithful, who will be invited to adopt a “Eucharistic Charter.”
The icons on the Ark are shown at http://www.cei2008.ca/en/archesymoblisme.
A delegation from England and Wales to the Eucharistic Congress will be led by Fr Julian Green of Birmingham Archdiocese. Do contact him for a booking form. The Congress website homepage can be found at http://www.cei2008.ca.