EUCHARISTIC REVIVAL BEGINS WITH PROCESSIONS THROUGHOUT DIOCESE, NATION
Diocese of EriE-news staff
Lori Follett of St. John the Baptist Parish, Erie, was on the lawn outside of the bishop’s residence in Erie on Sunday, June 19. Featured in the August 2013 edition of Faith magazine, she waved and smiled enthusiastically, surrounded by family and friends preparing to take part in a Eucharistic procession through downtown Erie. It was one of four organized by the Office for Divine Worship as part of a national Eucharistic revival on this year’s Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ; all dioceses in the country were asked to host a procession. Numerous other parishes in the diocese held their own processions as well.
“What brings me here today is the love of God and the love that God has for us,” Follett said.
“And how wonderful it is to share Jesus with the neighborhood and the world! I’m hearing this is the beginning of the Eucharistic Revival, so it’s great to be here for the start of that.” Her parish, partnered with Erie’s Holy Rosary Parish since 2017, usually holds its own procession in the neighborhood.
“It’s exciting for us to join as a parish family and to be part of the processions with our whole diocese,” Follett said.
More than 300 people participated in Erie, creating a column stretching a full city block. It wound its way from St. Peter Cathedral through the downtown area, across Gannon University’s campus and back up Sassafras Street to the Cathedral. The event concluded with Benediction for which the cathedral was packed.
“It was edifying to all of us to see so many people,” said Bishop Lawrence Persico, who carried the monstrance the entire length of the procession. “It was a good crowd of people who spent time in prayer and devotion. Young and old, people with walkers, it was impressive. Quite an event to open the Eucharistic revival.”
All dioceses in the nation were asked to launch the three-year Eucharistic Revival with a diocesan procession. Bishop Persico, in collaboration with Father Matt Kujawinski, director of the Office for Divine Worship, arranged four diocesan processions in order to ensure that everyone in the
10,000-square-mile Diocese of Erie would have an opportunity to participate. Msgr. Edward Lohse, vicar general, led the procession from St. Bernard Parish in Bradford; Father Richard Allen, vicar for the Western Vicariate, led the procession on the property of Notre Dame Parish in Hermitage; and Msgr. Richard Siefer, vicar for the Eastern Vicariate, led the procession from St. Catherine Parish in DuBois. The three-year revival is designed to help Catholics understand and embrace the church teaching of Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist.
Although Eucharistic processions have been part of tradition since Old Testament times, many Catholics have never participated in one. Processions honored God in the Ark of the Covenant carried by the Israelites in the time of Moses. Many European immigrants to the United States have maintained their traditions with processions honoring the Blessed Mother or various patron saints. Secular groups engage in parades — a type of procession — to honor astronauts, veterans, athletes and other people who have done important things.
Believing that the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus, Eucharistic processions have long been a part of Catholic culture. In the Diocese of Erie, three parishes in St. Marys likely have the longest history of commitment to this tradition. Father Peter Augustine Pierjok, O.S.B., of St. Mary's Parish; Father Tom Curry, O.S.B., of Sacred Heart Parish; and Father Jeffrey Noble of Queen of the World Parish, invited parishioners to the area’s 177th annual Eucharistic procession June 19.
On Divine Mercy Sunday this year, Father James Campbell,
pastor of St. Eulalia Parish, Coudersport, and St. Gabriel Parish in Port Allegany, prayed for peace and led 50 participants in a Eucharistic procession and rosary crusade through the streets of Coudersport as a public act of reparation for the offenses against the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Among those who came to the June 19 procession in Erie were vacationers Joe and Hannah Maley of Most Precious Blood of Jesus Parish in Pittsburgh. Due to an unexpected delay, they were only able to catch the end of the experience, but they had participated in a Eucharistic procession at St. Hedwig Parish, Erie, that morning.
“The Eucharist is so powerful in my life and I would stand behind Jesus and kneel before him,” Hannah said. “I think today we need to witness that and the beauty and power of the Eucharist.” During the morning procession, Hannah noticed children looking out of their windows, coming out to their driveways.
“It was exciting,” she said. “We were sharing our faith with the community.”
Said Joe: “We should be evangelizing. This is evangelizing. People are going to ask what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. We need to do more of that.”
In a message inviting parishioners to take full advantage of the opportunities within the revival, Father Kujawinski acknowledged the need for greater understanding.
“For those who are struggling with this tenet of our faith, I invite you to pray using the same words of the distraught father in the Gospel of Mark (Chapter 9),” he wrote. “Begging Jesus to rid his son of a demon he cried, ‘I do believe, help my unbelief!’ That alone was enough for the Lord to take action.”
Father Kujawinski wrote that the Eucharist gives us the strength to be who we’re meant to be, to live the way we’re supposed to live and to love the way we’re supposed to love. He also offered the following concrete ideas people can consider incorporating into their lives:
- We all struggle to stay in the moment, to pay attention, even at Mass. A key step is to prepare. You can find the readings for Mass by month athttps://bible.usccb.org/readings/calendar. Take the time to read them before Mass. Families might consider making it a tradition on Friday evenings. If you need to start smaller, try praying in the car on the way to Mass. We prepare for concerts, for sporting events, for going out to dinner. A little preparation goes a long way.
- Are you really praying at Mass? Each time the priest says, “Let us pray,” don’t just bow your head. Listen to the words and join into the prayer. Give your needs to God where appropriate.
- Watch for God, listen for God at Mass. If you tell God what’s going on in your life, he will answer you. Perhaps something will really speak to you from Scripture or in a hymn. Maybe the homily will give you the encouragement you need. Or it might come in the form of a comment from a friend on the way out the door. Commit to listening as you seek guidance.