700 walk with Jesus through streets of Danbury

DANBURY—More than 700 faithful from 11 parishes processed through downtown Danbury with the Blessed Sacrament on the Feast of Corpus Christi in what Bishop Frank J. Caggiano called “a tremendous demonstration of faith.”

The Eucharistic procession began at St. Peter Church on Main Street, after a Holy Hour at 1 p.m. Sunday, and then proceeded a mile north to St. Joseph Church, where it ended with Benediction by Bishop Caggiano. It was one of several processions throughout the diocese to observe the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, a feast that has been celebrated since the mid-13th century.

Hundreds of parishioners followed the Blessed Sacrament along Main Street while onlookers watched from the sidewalks and apartment windows. The procession was led by a police escort and began with altar servers carrying a crucifix and candles, followed by a cadre of parishioners holding colorful banners representing the 11 churches that participated.

The procession included Portuguese children folk dancers in festive costumes from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, the Sons of Portugal Marching Band, and a statue of the Blessed Mother and Christ Child held aloft on a platform adorned with a bed of white carnations.

Members of the clergy and altar servers with bells and incensors preceded the Blessed Sacrament carried by Father Karol Ksiazek of St. Joseph Church in Brookfield in a processional monstrance beneath a decorative canopy held by four bearers. Bishop Caggiano and priests from the area parishes followed the Blessed Sacrament.

Behind them came the faithful, some praying the rosary as they walked along the mile-long route to St. Joseph’s, filling the street and spilling onto the sidewalk.

“Today was a tremendous demonstration of the faith people share in Danbury and beyond and the pride they have in their Catholic faith,” Bishop Caggiano said. “But more importantly, it showed their desire to share it with others, and one of the best ways to do that is to bring the Lord to the world, which is exactly what we did here on the streets of Danbury.”

When the procession reached St. Joseph Church, the crowd erupted into a sustained chant of “Viva Christo Rey!” as the Blessed Sacrament was taken up the stairs and in the front entrance of church for the final Benediction by the Bishop. Every pew was filled and dozens of people watched from the foyer and front steps, kneeling reverently as Bishop Caggiano blessed them with the Blessed Sacrament.

Father Robert Wolfe, parochial vicar of St. Mary Parish in Bethel, said planning for the first annual Corpus Christi Procession began last summer and included parishes from Danbury, Bethel, Brookfield, New Fairfield and Sherman took part.

“We all joined together for a very public and beautiful display of our faith, which is very much needed right now, when it might seem more convenient to hide in the shadows,” he said. “But it’s time to step out into the light.”

Father Gregg Mecca, pastor of St. Peter’s said, “This is our giving witness to the centrality of our faith that Jesus is alive and present in the Eucharist with us. This is the first time we did this cooperatively with the deanery, and we wanted it to show we are proud of our faith…because the Catholic faith is alive, and we are very much alive in our faith.”

The idea for the procession was first presented at a deanery meeting by Father Corey Piccinino, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Bethel.

Processing through the community with the Blessed Sacrament on the Feast of Corpus Christi is an ancient Church tradition, Father Wolfe said. The procession is an outward demonstration of Catholic faith and belief in the Real Presence of the Risen Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under the appearance of the Consecrated Host.

The feast of Corpus Christi was instituted by Pope Urban IV in 1264, following a Eucharistic miracle in Bolsena, Italy, which was brought to Orvieto, where there has been a procession every year, honoring that great miracle.

“Pope Urban IV declared the feast of Corpus Christi should be celebrated in reverence of the Body and Blood of Christ, so this very ancient and venerable tradition is one we like to continue to promote our faith,” Father Wolfe said.

Deacon Louis Howe of St. Joseph’s said the procession was also an important display of unity in the Church. “The Catholic Church is universal, and this shows that we all walk in unity with the Blessed Sacrament and the Church,” he said.

Father John Perez, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, noted the importance of the procession in a secular society “because it shows everyone the main mystery of our faith, which is the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.”

Ericka Faber, a parishioner at St. Peter’s, said Eucharistic processions were common in her native country of Hungary, where they would walk from the villages through the fields and farms and stop at wayside altars to honor the Blessed Sacrament. This July 11, she will celebrate the 70th anniversary of her arrival in the United States.

Lidia Duarte, whose daughter Sarah plays the flute in the Sons of Portugal Marching Band and is a student at Immaculate High School, said she was pleased the band had been invited to join the procession, which is a much-needed demonstration of the Catholic faith in the community.

“When it comes to the Eucharist, we ourselves need a very vivid and constant reminder of the Lord’s presence,” Father Wolfe said. “Christ is literally walking with us throughout our life and all the stations that we experience….Just like the disciples at Emmaus, we have seen him in the breaking of the bread and in the outpoured cup. To be able to profess that faith is not only something we need, but the world needs. The Eucharist desires every single one of us, and every single one of us should come to desire this great gift. We should bring him out into the open because that is exactly where he wants to be found and shared.”

St. Catherine of Siena

TRUMBULL—It was an incredibly beautiful day for St. Catherine’s **first-ever** Corpus Christi Procession in the streets of Historic Nichols! The love of Our Lord and the beauty of our shared faith tangibly surrounded us throughout our procession. The weather was picture perfect, and the choir, the servers, and the praying faithful all put their heart and soul into making it as beautiful as possible. It was a moving and joyful manifestation of our faith in Christ’s real presence in the Holy Eucharist, which is the center of our lives.

Photos from St. Catherine’s Corpus Christi Procession