Catholic parishes throughout the Diocese of Phoenix are taking their faith to the streets this weekend. They will line sidewalks and possibly roads as their eucharistic processions celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi June 22.
The Church sets aside the day to especially acknowledge Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist, and through it, His ability to become the food that nourishes and sustains Catholics. Fr. Peter Dobrowski, pastor of St. Margaret Mary in Bullhead City, said the parish has a 20-year tradition of Corpus Christi processions.
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He said attendance is tough because it’s always hot, but there’s enough for a procession to six outdoor altars erected by various parish ministries. They walk to each one, offer a prayer, sing a short hymn and move on.
“It’s in the heat of Bullhead, so I tell them coming really shows gratitude to the Lord for his real presence,” Fr. Dobrowski said.
Although St. Margaret Mary is the exception because it’s on a hill and so close to the highway, many processions will pass through surrounding neighborhoods and return to the parish for Mass. Some of the hosting parishes include:
- St. Margaret Mary in Bullhead City (map) — 5:30 p.m. Begins in the church and processes to six outdoor altars with a blessing at each. Concludes with a Benediction.
Childrenare encouraged to wear their first Communion outfits for a special place in the procession.
Blessed Sacrament Parish in Tolleson (map) — 6:50 a.m. Returns to parish for Mass at 8 a.m. A potluck in the hall will follow the noon Mass.
Some parishioners are particularly excited for this year’s procession. David Murrietta, a parishioner and artist, restored an outdoor mural of the Last Supper throughout Lent and the Easter season. Bringing the Blessed Sacrament through the surrounding neighborhood will further remind passersby of the Catholic outreach the parish offers. Fr. Pedro Velez will bless and rededicate the mural after the 10 a.m. Mass.
- St. Daniel the Prophet in Scottsdale (map) — 8:30 a.m. Procession begins in the church, leads out into the surrounding neighborhood and returns to church for the 10:30 a.m. Mass.
- St. Mary’s Basilica in partnership with Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish (map) — 5 p.m. beginning at Immaculate Heart with a 5 p.m. bilingual Mass followed by a seven-block procession to the basilica for Benediction.
- Our Lady of Solitude Monastery in Tonopah — 10 a.m. June 22. Mass followed by procession. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for good driving directions.
Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at Rome’s Basilica of St. John Lateran on June 19, the true feast of Corpus Christi. (The U.S. bishops moved the feast to the following Sunday). The pope told last year’s crowd that participating in Mass and Corpus Christi processions are times for Catholics to reflect on how they follow Jesus.
Archived coverage: Eucharist nourishes, sustains and should transform people, pope says
After Mass, there will be a eucharistic procession to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, but Pope Francis opted not to lead it. He will go directly by car from Mass to the square in front of St. Mary Major, “so that, in accordance with the spirit of today’s celebration, the attention of the faithful would remain focused on the Blessed Sacrament” and not on the pope, said Jesuit Father Frederico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman. ETWN will carry it love on its television station and online. So will the Vatican.
Here is some archived coverage from a parish in Washington state: