Parishes joyfully celebrate Feast of Corpus Christi
A seasonably warm June 18 saw parishioners from around the Diocese upholding a centuries’ old tradition by observing the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, otherwise known as Corpus Christi. Together with their pastors and parish priests, they joined in solemn outdoor Eucharistic processions during which the Blessed Sacrament is exposed and prayerfully carried in procession around the parish grounds.
To see photo gallery from the Corpus Christi Procession in Middletown, click here.
Noting that the feast day solemnly commemorates the institution of Christ’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist, Father Brian Woodrow, pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish, Allentown, said he saw the procession as a way for families to reflect on the importance of the Eucharist.
“The Church needed to renew and refocus that the Eucharist is a true presence,” said Father Woodrow. “It signifies the source and summit of our Faith – that it’s not a symbol, but a reality.”
Part of preparing for the feast day celebration would include parishes setting up four outdoor altars where they would stop at each altar along the procession route to pray, hear a Gospel reading, perhaps sing a hymn and receive a blessing from the priest or deacon holding the monstrance. The four altars represent the four corners of the earth, bringing in Christ’s Body throughout the world.
Although the rising temperatures that day prompted faithful from St. Mary Parish, Barnegat, this year to move their four altars closer to the church building to lessen the amount of walking, the families still eagerly joined Msgr. Kenard Tuzeneu, pastor, and Father Marcin Kania, parochial vicar, who carried the monstrance in procession, Msgr. Tuzeneu said.
“It felt as if we were walking with Jesus to the altars to say a different prayer at each,” he said. “It was very moving and a beautiful experience.”
In St. Mary Parish, Middletown, Father Jeffrey Kegley, pastor, led a procession that was joined by the parish choir that led in the singing of Eucharistic hymns and youngsters who had recently received their First Holy Communion were invited to wear their Communion attire and walk with their fellow parishioners.
“It’s an opportunity for every Catholic that has a private relationship with the Eucharist to take to the streets and show it to the world,” said Father Kegley. “We prayed for the youth of our parish, all of our parishioner families and all the deceased members of our parish.”
Emphasizing the reverence with which the procession was carried out in his parish, Father Woodrow said that while it “looks as though the priest leads while carrying the Eucharist, in reality, it’s really the Eucharist that leads and carries the priest.”