Eucharistic Procession Takes Jesus to Visit Faithful Departed

NORWALK—On the third day of the Eucharistic Procession through the Diocese of Bridgeport, Jesus visited the faithful departed at St. John Cemetery and was joined by almost 70 people, including priests, religious sisters and Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, who prayed the rosary, sang and walked in silence past the graves of family and friends and the forgotten.

“It is most fitting, my friends, that today in our small portion of the Eucharistic procession that began at the tomb of Blessed Michael McGivney and will wind its way to Indianapolis, that you and I are going to process to the resting place of our parents, spouses, siblings, neighbors, and friends,” the bishop said during his homily at the Votive Mass of the Precious Blood at St. Matthew Church.

He invited several hundred people gathered at Mass to join the procession to St. John’s Cemetery nearby.

“We will walk there to invite them to join us in our great adoration of the Lord,” he said. “For they, too, are with us in the great Communion of the Church, who are living in a world that wants us to believe that death is the end and therefore we must be afraid and run. We will sing our praises to remind the world that they are wrong and that death is the preamble to glory in Jesus Christ.”

Fr. Francis Hoffmann, pastor of St. Matthew, said the procession went down Richards Avenue on one side of the street with Fr. Miguel Betancur Lenis carrying the monstrance beneath a canopy held aloft by a contingent of Knights of Columbus. There were seminarian servers carrying incensors, candles and a cross, joined by the lay faithful and sisters from the Convent of St. Birgitta, the Sisters of Life, and the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and Mary Immaculate.

Well-wishers in passing cars waved and smiled.

Upon entering the main entrance of the cemetery, they arrived at the priests’ circle, where there is a statue of the Risen Christ and an altar, upon which they placed the monstrance. The group also walked down the lanes of the cemetery, praying the rosary and in silent meditation. They later recited the Litany of the Faithful Departed, spent an hour in adoration and received a Eucharistic blessing.

“It was really nice, and it was so beautiful to see our people doing this in such a public way,” Father Hoffmann said. “Some of the people also visited the graves of their families and prayed for their loved ones.

During his homily, Bishop Caggiano spoke of “the great mystery of death.”

“The world’s language has changed,” he said. “We no longer speak of someone dying, but we say that he or she is ‘passing.’ Many do not come to a celebration of the funeral rites. They come to a celebration of life. And perhaps that is to be expected because the world tells us also in subtle ways that there is no need for a Savior or Redeemer because you and I are our own saviors and redeemers. The criterion of truth, the deliberation of what is good, is that my life is all about me….But what would any life—my life, your life, our lives—be, what hope could they have, if they don’t rest on a life greater than all of us combined?”

He said that as followers of Christ, we are called to live in hope.

“You and I come here each and every time we celebrate the Eucharist to enter into the Mystery of Christ’s own death and resurrection,” Bishop Caggiano said. “And through the gift of his sacred Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, we receive the grace and benefits, the fruits of the redemption he offers us. He himself embraced death, and so those of us who are his servants, his students, cannot expect to avoid it.”

However, because he is our Savior and Redeemer, we can enter into the mystery of death with hope because death will not have the last word, he said.

“The Savior Redeemer has the last word. And those who follow in his footsteps, who seek the forgiveness of their sins, who have the courage to imitate him and to follow his teaching, can enter into the mystery of death with the hope that they will also one day open their eyes unto glory,” he said.

Bishop Caggiano pointed out that when their faith was outlawed, the early Christians would gather in the catacombs, where their dead were buried, to celebrate the Eucharist. And they later built their churches on the tombs of the martyrs “because they didn’t run from death, but knew death was the entree to the promises of the Lord.”

He said that Jesus gave us the greatest gift possible in his Body and Blood, which is the pledge of eternal life, and we are privileged to receive every time we celebrate the Mass.

“It is graciously given to us by our merciful, gentle, and loving Savior,” he said. “That is why the Eucharist is the heart of who we are, for it will bring us in God’s grace unto eternal life.”

Over the next two months, the Blessed Sacrament will make its way across the country to Indianapolis. The Diocese of Bridgeport is just the second stop along the Pilgrimage’s Seton Route, which is one of four routes around the country, that will culminate in Indianapolis, Indiana for the National Eucharist Congress in July.


By Joe Pisani
Photos by Ann Mastrolillo