Bishop Rhoades celebrates Feast of Corpus Christi at Corpus Christi Parish
By Chuck Freeby
For more photos from the events of the day visit the photo gallery.
SOUTH BEND — With hundreds of faithful following behind him, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades carried the Eucharist through the streets of South Bend’s northwest side Sunday, June 26.
The sun-splashed procession — celebrating the Feast of Corpus Christi — also marked the 50th anniversary of Corpus Christi Church. While the parish celebrates its feast day in a similar way annually, Bishop Rhoades said the procession is symbolic of what all Catholics should do on a daily basis.
“We receive the body of Christ in our body and soul, and then we’re called to be what we receive,” declared Bishop Rhoades in his homily before a packed church. “We carry Him home and into our community where we go. We are tabernacles of the Lord.”
The procession stopped at the homes of parishioners along the route, with the bishop leading the crowd in several litanies, including the Litany of the Holy Eucharist and the Litany of the Blood.
Bishop Rhoades remarked to parishioners that the Feast of Corpus Christi brings back many special memories for him. As a seminarian, Bishop Rhoades twice acted as a server for Pope John Paul II early in his papacy.
“Imagine me being a 21-year-old kid and serving for the pope,” recalled Bishop Rhoades of his first encounter in 1980. “He came over to the four of us who were serving to talk about the Holy Eucharist. He said always make the Eucharist the center of your lives. I have never forgotten that.”
Two years later, the pope had survived an assassination attempt, but police were concerned about security for the Holy Father, who wanted to take the Eucharist into the streets of Rome for the procession.
“The police were saying that the Swiss Guard and security forces had to surround the pope during the procession for his safety,” explained Bishop Rhoades. “John Paul II said, ‘what’s the point if no one can see the Holy Eucharist. I don’t want you blocking the people’s view.’ And, of course, the pope won the argument.”
Centering on the Eucharist is something you would expect at a parish named Corpus Christi. Since the construction of the present church building in 1985, the parish has offered Eucharistic Adoration 16 hours a day, seven days a week.
“I pray that this wonderful tradition will continue,” lauded Bishop Rhoades. “Your devotion to the Eucharist is the source of so many blessings for you, your families, your parish, and our diocese. Here, the Body of Christ, “Corpus Christi,” the living bread come down from heaven, is praised, adored and loved every day, bringing abundant blessings to the Church.”
Father Daryl Rybicki, now in his second year as the parish pastor, shared his own special memories of the feast.
“It’s the anniversary weekend of my ordination, and the first Mass I ever celebrated was the Feast of Corpus Christi,” noted Father Rybicki. “This has been just a tremendous day of celebration with the parish turning out in such huge numbers. I was ahead of the procession with the altar servers, and it was inspiring to look back and see the crowds of people following the Eucharist.”
That feeling was shared by many longtime parishioners as they enjoyed a celebratory dinner and historical display after the procession.
“It was good to see all the young families represented,” noted Mike Rafinski, who has been with the parish for 38 years, most of those as director of religious education. “It was a very nostalgic day, but what was great was to see such a nice cross-section of the parish.”
That mix of people also caught the eye of parishioner David Donica.
“This was an event that brought out everyone in the parish,” he said. “To see the older people mixing with the younger people … there aren’t a lot of events that make that happen. It makes you feel as though you are part of one big family, which is what we’re supposed to be.”
Marilyn Ahearn has attended Corpus Christi since 1971, and now serves as a sixth-grade teacher at the school.
“During Mass today, I was thinking back to when Mass was in the basement of the school,” mentioned Ahearn. “What really struck me is the building is different, but the spirit is the same. There’s a great devotion to the Eucharist here.”
That devotion certainly struck Bishop Rhoades in his visit to the parish. He noted the large monstrance atop the entrance of the Church, and that it reminds us all what we are to be as Catholics — the body of Christ.
“On this, the fiftieth anniversary of Corpus Christi Parish, my advice to you is the advice of St. Augustine,” said Bishop Rhoades. “Be a member of the Body of Christ that your Amen may be true. In other words, live what you receive in Holy Communion! Live Christ! Be men, women, and children of the Eucharist!”
The best news. Delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe to our mailing list today.