“The Eucharist is not merely a symbol of Jesus. The Eucharist is not just a reminder of Jesus. The Eucharist is not blessed bread,” Father Joseph Marcello told his congregation at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull. “The Eucharist is Jesus Christ himself: body, blood, soul, and divinity.”
To bring alive to his parishioners the full meaning of the Eucharist, “a gift beyond our reckoning,” Father Marcello, St. Catherine’s pastor, arranged for an outdoor parish procession to honor the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.
On one of the most beautiful feast days of the year, the noon Mass at St. Catherine’s was filled with music, ablaze with candles, rich with incense. The notes of a trumpet announced the opening hymn, and the outstanding choir sang the Corpus Christi sequence a cappella.
The procession following Mass drew parishioners into the warmth of the May afternoon. Led by the choir, the procession with triumphant cross, candle-bearers, incense and the brilliant monstrance overshadowed by a golden canopy circled the park-like grounds of St. Catherine’s campus. At the close of the observance, parishioners gave emotional thanks to Father Marcello for providing them with such a heart-filling proclamation of their faith.
Father Marcello, in his second year as pastor of St. Catherine’s, had chosen to hold the Corpus Christi procession “to publicly manifest our belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.” As a young priest, he had participated in processions during his first assignment at St. Joseph Parish in Shelton, and later at Hispanic parishes in the diocese when he was priest-secretary to then-Bishop William E. Lori.
“We live in such a visual culture,” he noted. “So a procession, with its candles, incense, and servers – with Our Lord in the monstrance, and so many of our parishioners and friends of all ages taking part—this helps to bring home to all of us that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic faith.”
All that he does as pastor, Father Marcello said, has that same goal. “My hope is to lead people to Christ in the Eucharist,” he said, “so that as many as possible can encounter his peace, his healing, his mercy, and his love. Bringing people to Jesus and bringing Jesus to people—that’s what it means to be a priest.”