Hundreds of Catholics, led by the bishops of the dioceses of Davenport in Iowa and Peoria in Illinois, participated in the first bistate eucharistic procession to cross the Mississippi River, united in faith and love for the Eucharist.
The river divides the two states, but Catholics crossed the bridge as one body of Christ to proclaim publicly the real presence of Jesus Christ in and to the world.
“I love how everyone came along, just to walk with Jesus,” said Joseph Moneymaker, a high school junior from Davenport who alternated between carrying a candle and a thurible, or incense burner, during the five-mile procession Oct. 8.
He described the effect of the procession on himself: “It got me close to Jesus. I could feel Him behind me in the Blessed Sacrament.”
The procession began with Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. Bishop Thomas R. Zinkula of Davenport presided at Mass and Bishop Louis Tylka of Peoria concelebrated.
“The Eucharist unites us,” the Bishop Zinkula said. “Whether we live on the east or the west side of the Mississippi River, Catholic Christians share a communal love. What is the purpose of our journey with and as the body of Christ?
“The monstrance will be the symbol of the good news of Jesus Christ and His Real Presence in the Eucharist,” Bishop Zinkula said. “We can’t keep Jesus’ word and sacrament to ourselves. It is our mission, duty and joy as baptized disciples of Jesus Christ to share Him with others, with everyone we meet on our journey.”
Participants stopped to pray at outdoor altars set up along the way, the first at St. Anthony Church in Davenport. From there, they traveled through a relatively quiet downtown Davenport to cross the Mississippi River over the Government (Arsenal) Bridge to Rock Island, Illinois, in the Peoria Diocese.
Bishop Zinkula carried the monstrance over the bridge to Arsenal Island, where Bishop Tylka took the monstrance and carried it on a bridge over the river’s slough into the city of Rock Island.
The idea for the eucharistic procession “came from the people of God,” Bishop Tylka told reporters. “They just asked if we would participate. Of course, we both said yes, Bishop Zinkula and I. It’s an expression of the faith of the people. Anytime we can have such a witness of our faith in such a public way, it’s great.”
He described the procession as amazing because “we were able to literally cross the Mississippi River to bring two dioceses together. The river divides two states; it divides two dioceses. But we’re one people, one faith,” he said. Building bridges signifying the unity “we share in the wider Church … made this extra special.”
As a reflection of the National Eucharistic Revival, the bistate procession provided an opportunity for Catholics, as a eucharistic people, to “think about how important it is to have that relationship with the Lord,” the Peoria bishop said. “The Lord gave us the gift of Himself, His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. … This is just a moment for us but it’s really a way of life. It calls us to make sure we never lose that focus.”
Eucharistic procession through Manhattan
NEW YORK — A eucharistic procession through Midtown Manhattan Oct. 11, the Mass that preceded it and the adoration that followed fittingly marked the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council “in a particularly eucharistic way,” said Father Roger Landry.
The council was “convened in order to reinvigorate the Church’s mission to sanctify the world and bring Christ and His Gospel even to those corners considered most forlorn,” said the priest.
He was the main celebrant and homilist for the Mass, celebrated at the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the New York borough of Manhattan.
“The fathers of Vatican II repeatedly declared that Jesus in the holy Eucharist is the source and summit, root and center of the Christian life and of everything the Church does,” Father Landry said in his homily.
A eucharistic procession takes Jesus Christ “out into the world He redeemed,” he said. It proclaims Jesus, “by our joyful witness, devout prayers and enthusiastic singing to be really, truly and substantially among us,” and invites others “to join us in following Him who is the Way,” he continued.
“Our world needs Jesus Christ just as much as ever and as Catholics, we cannot keep the treasure of our eucharistic Lord within our churches and tabernacles. The love of Christ, and the love of others, compels us to bring Him out and share Him,” added Father Landry, who is a chaplain at Columbia University.
After the early evening Mass, the eucharistic procession of priests, seminarians, women religious and laypeople traveled a mile-long route through Midtown Manhattan.
The procession concluded at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan led Benediction.