By Kay Cozad
SOUTH BEND — St. Matthew Cathedral will be the site for a special premiere event hosted by the Office of Hispanic Ministry on Sunday, June 6. The feast of Corpus Christi will be celebrated there with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at an all-Spanish Mass at 1 p.m., followed by a Eucharistic Procession through the streets of South Bend.
Those parish groups who will participate in the procession will meet in the back of the cathedral following Mass for brief instructions. Each group will accompany the Blessed Sacrament, carrying their own unique Eucharistic banner as witness to their faith in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The procession, first blessed by Bishop Rhoades in the cathedral, will track a 1.7 mile route through the streets of South Bend from Dubail and High to Franklin and Culvert streets where it will culminate at Our Lady of Hungary Parish with Benediction.
The route follows the neighborhood streets surrounding the cathedral where close to 350 Hispanic families reside. Enid Roman-DeJesus, director of the diocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry, said not only is this event a celebration of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ but that, “The bishop invites the community to bring Christ into the streets of the Spanish community (where some have fallen away from the Church). … We hope they will walk with the bishop. It’s a call back home.”
The bishop will stop at four predetermined sites where there will be communal prayer and blessing of the houses and community there. Neighbors along the route have been invited to set up tables displaying favorite saints so as to symbolize that “the saints and people are receiving the Lord.”
Once the Benediction takes place there will be a fiesta held at Our Lady of Hungary with music, cultural foods and regional dance groups.
According to Roman-DeJesus this inaugural event, petitioned from Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, is the first of its kind in this diocese.
“This will be the first time an all-Spanish Mass will be celebrated in the cathedral,” said Roman-DeJesus, adding that a large group has come together to help plan this special celebration. Eight of the 14 parishes in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend that have Hispanic ministries have assisted with this cultural activity. Information on the event has gone out to all diocesan parishes for use in bulletins as well as on fliers placed in neighborhood grocery stores and restaurants that enjoy a high volume of Hispanic customers.
Bishop Rhoades, who will celebrate the Mass entirely in Spanish, invites all who are interested, but especially Hispanic Catholics of the diocese to join him.
“I invite the Spanish-speaking faithful of the diocese to attend the diocesan Hispanic Mass on June 6, the solemnity of Corpus Christi, at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend. After the Mass, all are invited to join me in the outdoor Eucharistic Procession through the streets from St. Matthew Cathedral to Our Lady of Hungary Church.
“The beautiful tradition of the Corpus Christi procession is a wonderful opportunity to publicly express our love and devotion for the Lord Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament. Carrying the most Holy Eucharist through our streets and neighborhoods reminds us also that we are to carry Christ with us when we leave church, bringing His love and mercy into the world,” said Bishop Rhoades, who added, “Let us all be mindful of the amazing gift of the Holy Eucharist, the Real Presence of Christ ever in our midst. Christ is with us in this sacrament of love. Come, let us adore Him!”
Roman-DeJesus reports the expected crowd of over 1,000 processors will park on the west side of Our Lady of Hungary and ride to the cathedral via shuttles or car pools. She requests participants be at the cathedral the hour before the start of Mass to assemble.
Groups interested in participating in the procession are asked to call Enid Roman-DeJesus at the Office of Hispanic Ministry at (574) 259-9994, ext. 211 or Lourdes Silva, associate director at ext. 217, for preparation purposes.
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