Rather than spend the afternoon at a barbecue, many dads and their families spent Father’s Day walking with Jesus in a Corpus Christi eucharistic procession from St. Thomas the Apostle Church to St. Vincent de Paul Church in Elkhart.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades led the procession, which has been taking place for over 20 years.
Both parishes had been holding small Corpus Christi processions, but the shared procession came out of something known as the “E Team” – The Elkhart County Evangelization Team — which included both Elkhart parishes, St. John the Evangelist in Goshen and St. Mary of the Annunciation in Bristol.
Renee Campanello, parish secretary at St. Thomas, was a member of that evangelization team and said Lisa Kloska Moreno came up with the idea of joining the two parishes and processing from one to the other as a means of witnessing the Catholic faith to the community. Her father, Irv Kloska, a loyal participant, confirmed that account, saying that while the Kloskas were St. Thomas parishioners, Lisa was RCIA instructor at St. Vincent and started the E Team.
“I never miss it,” he said of the procession. “Celebrating Jesus in the Eucharist is fantastic! More people need to understand the Real Presence.”
Fellow parishioners Kay Gonsosko, Carol Pawlak and Hannelore Dykes have been participating for most of those 20 years as well.
Gonsosko said they come because they “like to witness for Christ and take him with us to the streets.”
Like many others, Theresa and Brian Gerwels, parishioners of St. Vincent de Paul, pushed their baby and toddler in a stroller. Theresa said it’s the fourth year she’s participated and claimed it to be “a simple proclamation of the Gospel.”
Members of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus were there in full regalia as were members of the Nocturnal Adoration Society from St. John the Evangelist in Goshen. Other members from St. John the Evangelist participated, including Patrick Wheeler and George and Dawn Fattal and their twin sons.
When asked why they came from Goshen, Dawn replied, “It’s such an important feast day – worthy of a grand celebration.” Her husband added the fact that the bishop was participating made it extra special.
Wheeler responded, “It’s my favorite holiday on the entire calendar! Without the Eucharist I have no life in me, so I might as well celebrate the source of my life.”
Campanello reported in past years the response of people on the procession route has “always been positive. We’ve gotten applause and thumbs up from people as we pass them sitting on their porches.”
This is the first time the bishop has led the procession and the first time it has stopped at the Women’s Care Center to pray. The procession left St. Thomas and participants prayed and sang as they traveled along the 1-1/2 mile route to the Women’s Care Center, where an altar was waiting. The faithful responded with the Litany for Life as Bishop Rhoades prayed for all life to be honored with the dignity God created for them; for those affected by abortion, for mothers who are tempted to abort to have the patience to endure and deliver new life, and for fathers who are encouraged to abort to have strength and courage to defend, support and protect their loved ones.
The bishop also prayed to remove from all hearts the temptation to harm human life, to remove the arrogance that our wants and needs are superior to others and that no person be treated as less than a child of God.
He prayed that all who govern us “seek not to be great, but to be good.”
He offered prayers for forgiveness for abortionists, and that they be granted the grace of repentance.
“Deliver us from every temptation to despair; give us full confidence of the Gospel, ‘for those who love God all things come to good’.”
He prayed, “When the culture of death surrounds us, never let us lose sight of the beauty of your Son’s face. Give us grace to do His will and carry every cross that comes our way.”
“When the crusade for life seems unending, come to our aid. Give us assurance you are always with us and will bring victory to all.”
The Litany for Life was followed by a litany of prayers for all fathers – those who are new fathers, fathers who are alone, unemployed, addicted and abusive. The litany was repeated for mothers, members of congress and other government leaders, lawmakers and medical professionals.
They began praying the Divine Mercy chaplet as they processed the remaining distance to St. Vincent de Paul.
The bells of St. Vincent pealed to announce the arrival of the Corpus Christi procession. After the benediction, Bishop Rhoades spoke briefly to those gathered.
“It was wonderful to spend this great solemnity of Corpus Christi with you and joining in the procession through the streets of Elkhart with our Lord. I can’t even imagine all the blessings that will come from carrying Christ through the streets,” Bishop said.
“I want to give deep thanks to all of you for your devotion, faith and love for our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and for accompanying Him through the streets of Elkhart.”
Bishop Rhoades reminded everyone that we should never take for granted the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist.
“The Eucharist is our food for the journey. Just as he gave the Israelites manna in the desert, he gives us the Eucharist for our journey to the promised land of heaven — one that’s much better,” he said.
Refreshments were offered afterward in Vincent Hall. The Blessed Sacrament remained in the church at St. Vincent for adoration for one week.
The best news. Delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe to our mailing list today.