June 12, 2012 // Uncategorized

Corpus Christi Procession takes Christ to the streets

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FORT WAYNE — The faithful of the diocese joined Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades for a Eucharistic Procession in Fort Wayne that took Jesus from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to Headwaters Park, Most Precious Blood Church and completed their journey at Queen of Angels Parish.

More than 1,000 people left the cathedral — many after attending the 11:30 a.m. Mass on June 10 — singing hymns of praise and adoration as our Lord, carried in the monstrance by Bishop Rhoades, traveled through downtown Fort Wayne past the Allen County Courthouse, the jail, and headed to the first stop at Headwaters Park for prayer and Benediction. The 2.7 mile walk with the procession that stretched for four city blocks was believed to be the longest Corpus Christi Procession in the nation.

Procession participants gathered on the grassy green of the park — many kneeling — for choral meditations by the St. Patrick’s Church Vietnamese Choir and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Quartet. Then after Benediction, the faithful — which included the diversity of the city’s multiethnic groups, young and old, parents pulling their children in wagons, pushing strollers, one person pulling an oxygen tank, some pushed in wheelchairs, first communicants dressed in their gowns and Sunday best — proceeded to Most Precious Blood Church.

The path to Most Precious Blood was laden with brick streets. The path wound past businesses. Patrons at a nearby bar looked out a window, and one man was seen to remove his cap as the procession passed.

Again participants prayed the rosary and sang songs of praise. Priests from the Oratory of St. Phillip Neri stopped to talk to neighbors sitting on front porches and stoops as the procession maneuvered through Fort Wayne’s near northwest neighborhoods.

At Most Precious Blood Church, the St. Patrick’s Church Hispanic Choir sang before the Benediction. Volunteers and members of the Most Precious Blood Rosary Sodality made sure the pilgrims could replenish their water supply in the 90-plus degree weather before traveling to the final destination — Queen of Angels.

At the Queen of Angels altar, the Litany for Liberty was recited. The Queen of Angels Church Choir sang before the final Benediction and Divine Praises. Father Gary Sigler, pastor of Queen of Angels, then returned the sacred Host to the church.

Bishop Rhoades, most pleased with the faithful gathered, expressed his deep thanks to the participants, for giving “honor and praise to the Lord, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.”

Bishop Rhoades thanked all those who helped plan the Corpus Christi procession from diocesan staff to priests to the Knights of Columbus.

“Your presence here today, and spending the afternoon together on the solemnity of Corpus Christi really touched my heart very much. I think there is a lot of joy in God’s heart today to see us honoring His Son with such love and devotion,” Bishop Rhoades said.

A fiesta followed the solemn procession with volunteers from Queen of Angels and Most Precious Blood parishes working together to feed the hungry masses of procession participants. Meanwhile, a mariachi band provided live music in the tent behind the activity center, which was packed with procession participants enjoying a dinner before heading home.

“Corpus Christi” is Latin for the “Body of Christ.” On the feast of Corpus Christi, which was Sunday, June 10, Catholics honor the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This feast is traditionally celebrated through a Eucharistic Procession at which the consecrated host is placed in the monstrance and the congregation reverently follows the Eucharist singing hymns and saying prayers.

In the homily at the 11:30 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Bishop Rhoades said, “We will carry the Body of Christ through the streets of Fort Wayne, a public proclamation that the sacrifice of Christ is for the salvation of the whole world. This procession will represent a public blessing for our city as we bring Christ, present under the sign of bread, onto the streets and into the neighborhoods of Fort Wayne, proclaiming that Christ is our life and His Body is the bread of life, our food for the journey to our Father’s house.”

“We are reminded that every time we receive Holy Communion, we are to carry Christ with us in our daily lives,” Bishop Rhoades said, “We become His temple, His tabernacle. We receive the strength we need from the Eucharist to set out on our journey, to live our faith each day.”

First communicants came dressed for the procession in their first communion attire. That included Maggie Warner of St. John Bosco Parish in Churubusco, a student and first communicant from St. Mary of the Assumption School, Avilla. She joined her dad, Josh, and mom, Kala, and younger brothers and sister in the procession. Maggie had received a letter of invitation from Bishop Rhoades in the school packets.

“I was excited,” young Maggie told Today’s Catholic. Her dad, Josh, said Maggie was excited to get to wear the dress again. And her mom, Kala, said the family was happy to try something new. They did not recall a procession of this scale in Fort Wayne.

Josh said he was impressed by the reverence, not just by those in the march, but by the bystanders as well.

Kim Davis, a college student from Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne and member of St. Therese Parish, Fort Wayne, said the procession reminded her of the National March for Life in Washington, D.C. “I liked seeing the big turnout,” she said. “And I thought it was very special having the Blessed Sacrament go through Fort Wayne.”

Matt Hickey, a member of St. John the Baptist Parish, Fort Wayne, and uncle to Davis, said, “It is a very nice way of showing our love for Jesus. Especially in this world of materialism that we live, it is a good way to show Jesus that He is Our Lord and Savior.”

Sister Jacinta Krecek, a Sister of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, said, “I got a sense, especially at Headwaters Park, of how it must have been when Jesus had crowds of people following Him, gathered in big open spaces.”

Tom Myers, Scoutmaster of Troop 220 at Queen of Angels, not only coordinated Scouts to help as volunteers with the fiesta but also took part in the procession.

“I loved it,” Myers said. “It was an awesome event and a great way to celebrate Corpus Christi. And then to gather with everybody — with their singing as we were marching — was fantastic, a great experience.”

While waiting for the bus to take procession participants back to the Archbishop Noll Catholic Center, Patty Gruss, a member of St. Aloysius Parish in Yoder, summed up the day: “It was a wonderful day, and I want to thank Bishop Rhoades for bringing the celebration to us.”

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