Feast of Body and Blood of Christ
By RENEE WEBB, Globe senior reporter
Carrying yellow and white flags – the colors of the Vatican – several hundred Catholics publically proclaimed their belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist as they participated in a Eucharistic procession in South Sioux City, Neb.
That was just one of several processions Catholics from the Diocese of Sioux City participated in on the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) June 22.
About 150 people in Algona participated in benediction and the Eucharistic procession that were held to mark the feast day at St. Cecelia Parish. This is the fifth year the parish has taken part in the tradition.
“In the Corpus Christi procession, the Blessed Sacrament, the real presence of Jesus, reminds us that Christ leads us on our journey through life and is always with us,” Father Ed Girres, pastor, said.
Following the procession, parishioners gathered for a parish picnic, which included face painting for the children by the Bishop Garrigan Danz Squad.
Eucharistic processions on the Feast of Corpus Christi has been a long-time tradition at St. Catherine’s Parish in Oyens.
“We pray for peace, for vocations, for a good harvest, for our military, right to life and all the families and for thanksgiving,” noted organizers. This tradition, a special celebration of the Precious Body and Blood of Christ, has been in existence in the parish for 114 years.
St. Mary Parish in Willey was the site of another Eucharistic procession in the Diocese of Sioux City. Father Tim Johnson, pastor, pointed out that due to rain the procession had to be held indoors this year.
“We did a couple of processions inside and had the exposition and benediction,” noted Father Johnson, who added that while the canopy was not used inside they did include other parts of the ritual such as four men carrying processional candles. First communicants were also involved in the ceremony.
A typical procession in Willey would include stops at the three chapels located on the parish grounds. Given that these chapels are usually locked throughout the year, Father Johnson noted parishioners were invited to make a personal pilgrimage out to the chapels that were open for the occasion.
“We missed having the movement and visiting each chapel this year – because each chapel features a different aspect of Christ’s ministry with the statues – but we take what God gives us,” he said. “We will see what God gives us for weather next year. We are thankful above all for the moisture we received.”
Like the Oyens parish, this is a long-standing, unbroken tradition at St. Mary dating back to the parish’s beginning.
This was to be the third year for a procession in Humboldt but rain also prevented an outside procession at St. Mary Church. Father Jim Tigges, pastor, said its place they held Eucharistic adoration in the church.
He said parishioners were encouraged “to be bread for other people” during the week following this feast by helping others in need, being concerned about families and so on.
The procession in South Sioux City, began following an outdoor Mass at St. Michael Church. Hundreds of youth, who had attended a conference titled Radiant, participated as did a range of people from infants to the elderly. In between praying the rosary, they sang Ave Maria.
Father Stanislaus Kostka Maria Balucanag, Oblate Apostles of the Two Hearts (O.A.T.H.), explained, more than any feast day this day celebrates not only the memory of Christ’s presence but today on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Catholics remember the presence of Christ now in the Eucharist.
“The fact that everyone has come here today, we are making a public proclamation that we believe Jesus is alive in the Eucharist. Whether it’s hot and sunny, or if it was raining – I know everyone would still be here today because we are not doing this for a piece of bread. This is Jesus’ flesh in the Eucharist,” he said. “That is why none of your sacrifice done today is wasted.”
Father Stanislaus asked the Lord to spread the grace received in the Eucharist through the families and neighboring dioceses “and may this blessing from the Eucharist continue to unite us as a family.”
After the procession, attendees were invited to participate in benediction and silent adoration. At 9 p.m. the Blessed Sacrament was placed in the new Perpetual Eucharistic Reparative Adoration (PERA) Chapel in the side sacristy at St. Michael’s. Parishioners from the Diocese of Sioux City are welcome to participate.
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