Father Guillherme Andrino, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Lakewood, leads the parish Eucharistic Procession June 19. Courtesy photo
Father Guillherme Andrino, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Lakewood, leads the parish Eucharistic Procession June 19. Courtesy photo

As the National Eucharistic Revival kicked off on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, or Corpus Christi, June 19, parishes across the Diocese of Trenton appropriately marked the occasion with Eucharistic Processions. Whether they took place exclusively inside church buildings or made an appearance in the parishes’ surrounding neighborhoods, the Body of Christ was on full display for a poignant reminder of the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

Eucharistic Processions PHOTO GALLERY

Father Guilherme Andrino, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Lakewood, said that all Masses in the parish’s three worship sites – St. Mary of the Lake, Holy Family and St. Anthony Claret Churches – were followed by Eucharistic Processions either inside the church building or on church grounds.

“My idea of having the procession was especially because of the Revival,” he attested, noting that he and the other priests, Divine Word Fathers Pedro L. Bou and Jan Pastuszczak, all included the Eucharistic Revival in their homilies.

“Corpus Christi is always a moment of reflection, of renewal,” Father Andrino continued. “We are ‘reborn’ with more love for those who choose to be close to us, because the Body of Christ reminds us about his love for us. Having a procession this day reminds the church community about those moments when the multitudes followed Jesus searching for help, healing, mercy and love. I value this moment because especially nowadays our people are still in great need of walking with Jesus.”

In St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Hightstown, hundreds of parishioners participated in its annual Corpus Christi procession – the first one held since the beginning of the pandemic two years ago.

“It was a wonderful way to initiate the first year of the National Eucharistic Revival,” said Joe Sbarra, who worked with Father Oscar Sumanga, pastor, in coordinating the procession. A parishioner at St. Anthony’s since 1967, Sbarra is currently in the diocesan diaconate formation program and assist with many parish ministries.

“The Corpus Christi procession is a wonderful way in which Catholics publicly show and share our love for Jesus with our neighbors and the world by bringing the True Presence of our Lord and Savior closer to them,” Sbarra pointed out. The parish’s American, Latino and Filipino communities all participated in the procession and erected and decorated four altars representing the four corners of the earth. “The procession included music and singing, Scripture readings and prayers at each altar,” he explained.

In the shore community of Brick, members of Visitation Parish were accustomed to the tradition of Eucharistic Processions, according to Father Ed Blanchett, pastor.

“We usually try to do something – either a procession or Sunday afternoon Adoration, for Corpus Christi,” he said. “This year we did both.”

Father Blanchett felt it was “very important to have this procession, particularly on a Sunday morning with many people traveling to the shore, as a visual reminder that we’re never to take a vacation from God, who is in fact the only one who provides the kind of rest that truly refreshes, nourishes and re-creates us.”

Likewise in Spring Lake, a public procession of the Blessed Sacrament took place following an outdoor Mass celebrated at St. Catharine School. Father Damian McElroy, pastor of St. Catharine-St. Margaret Parish, led the procession from the school to St. Catharine Church for Benediction on the building’s front steps. He was joined by Father Gregg Abadilla and Deacon Paul Vitale, and scores of parish ministry groups.

St. Veronica Parish, Howell, revived its Eucharistic Procession following a two-year pandemic hiatus, and deacons’ homilies for the weekend focused particularly on the themes of respect and reverence for the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, in light of the Eucharistic Revival.

“[It was] an occasion for rebirth and regeneration,” said Father Peter J. Alindogan, St. Veronica pastor. “The Eucharistic Revival in our Diocese is not just timely but is essentially necessary in these present times.”

He referenced the Pew Research poll that indicated as many as seven in 10 Catholics see the Eucharist as merely a symbol but not the actual Body and Blood of Christ, as well as his observation of the attitudes and manner of people’s reception of the Eucharist.

To better prepare parishioners to receive the Eucharist, Father Alindogan encourages the extension of hours available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation in parishes. “I pray for an increase in numbers for the Sacrament of Penance,” he emphasized. “We cannot receive the Eucharist worthily if we are plagued by mortal sin. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is necessary before reception of the Eucharist.

“The Revival … is enveloped by both the interior and exterior values of our faith,” Father Alindogan continued. “Faith is expressed more clearly in actions. Our faith in our Blessed Lord is expressed more vividly in the way we celebrate, partake and respect the Body of Christ.”

In Holy Cross Church, worship site of Sacred Heart Parish, Trenton, a Solemn Mass in Polish was celebrated by Father Marcin Kania. The procession was led by Msgr. Dennis A. Apoldite, pastor, Father Marcin Kania and Father Charles Muorah. The day included many Polish traditions, such as children who threw flower petals on the ground as the Blessed Sacrament was carried in procession, and the parishioners who came in traditional Polish folk costumes.

“Many thanks to the parishioners who helped with making and decorating the outside altars. We thank everyone who came to the Polish Mass,” said parishioner Anna Wojciechowska, “and for participating in this sacred June procession and devotion. Thanks also to the organist Dariusz Blaszczyk, for singing and providing the musical setting for the Holy Mass and procession.”