PHOENIX — Fathers and their families are invited to take part in a sunrise eucharistic procession through the downtown Phoenix area led by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted to encourage a stronger devotion to the Holy Eucharist, while honoring dads in their role as faithful family leaders.
The 3-mile procession Sunday morning, June 6 the Feast of Corpus Christi, comes on the heels of the release of Bishop Olmsted’s Apostolic Exhortation, “Veneremur Cernui,” and continues the celebration of the Year of St. Joseph.
Scheduled to begin 6 a.m. and end around 8 a.m., the procession will include music and stops for prayer and reflection.
It is one of dozens of eucharistic processions nationwide organized as part of Catholic Father’s Day, a campaign by several Catholic men’s organizations throughout the United States. These groups include Catholic Men’s Leadership Alliance and Catholic Men’s Fellowship, which has a Phoenix branch.
“I’m overjoyed this will be happening. It is for everyone to honor Catholic fathers, and it is bringing Christ to the city,” said Steve Pettit, director of Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Phoenix and a parishioner of St. Paul in Phoenix.
“It is a way of living our faith very publicly as Catholics,” explained Mike Phelan, director of the Diocese’s Office of Marriage and Respect Life. “This is the actual Body and Blood of Jesus. When we bring the Eucharist to the streets, there is a powerful impact as the Lord leads us in the public square — not in a confrontational way — but seeking peace, justice and the blessing of following Him.”
The procession will begin and end at the Virginia G. Piper Plaza, located on Monroe Street between 3rd and 5thstreets between the Diocesan Pastoral Center and St. Mary’s Basilica. Participants are asked to assemble at 5:30 a.m. and urged to bring water, but Pettit said mobile water stations will be staffed along the route.
Parking will be available in the Heritage Square Garage with access off 5th street. There also will be limited street parking. A map of the garage and the procession route are available at: cmfp.org/2021catholicfathersday, where people are encouraged to register for the procession.
The route will take participants past Mater Misericordiae Church, the Arizona State Capitol and other government buildings. Phelan said prayers will be offered at various points for priests, the homeless and victims of violence, as well as state legislators and their leadership, and first responders, including police, fire and EMTs.
In his Apostolic Exhortation, Bishop Olmsted urged pastors throughout the diocese to lead a eucharistic procession annually in their parishes:
“Though Eucharistic processions have waxed and waned in popularity, we should consider the special opportunity provided today by this form of Eucharistic piety. It is true that the ‘native environment’ of the Eucharist is the Mass offered in churches. At the same time, centuries of Catholic practice suggest that there is indeed something uniquely enchanting, affective, and symbolic when a procession happens.”
The bishop also discussed the role of fathers play in instilling the importance of the Eucharist.
“To all fathers and mothers, let your children see that devotion to the Eucharist in adoration is an essential, life-giving part of your schedule! As every parent knows, children learn from consistent actions more than words.”
While the event is geared toward fathers, men are encouraged to bring their wives and children.
“St. Augustine referred to the father as ‘the bishop of the home.’ That is a very important role,” Phelan said. “We know through various studies and anecdotes that when a father lives his faith in his home — through prayer, attending Mass, and other means — chances his children will ever leave the faith are very minimal.”
Though Catholic-centered, Phelan said fathers of all faiths or no faith are welcome as well.
Other organizations sponsoring Catholic Father’s Day include EWTN; Exodus 90; Hard As Nails; Heroic Men; Men of Christ; Rosary Coast to Coast; United States Grace Force, and Women of Christ.