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Father Peter Faimega carried the Eucharist in a monstrance during a Corpus Christi procession June 2 through Old Town Florissant. The procession made its way from Sacred Heart Church to the Old St. Ferdinand Shrine.
Father Peter Faimega carried the Eucharist in a monstrance during a Corpus Christi procession June 2 through Old Town Florissant. The procession made its way from Sacred Heart Church to the Old St. Ferdinand Shrine.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand

North County parishes bring Jesus to the streets as part of annual Corpus Christi procession in Old Town Florissant

Jesus came to the streets of Old Town Florissant in a eucharistic procession that was fit for a king.

Father Peter Faimega elevated the Eucharist during a stop along the route of a Corpus Christi procession June 2 in Florissant. About 250 people attended the procession in Florissant from Sacred Heart Church to the Old St. Ferdinand Shrine.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
Members of several north St. Louis County parishes converged upon Sacred Heart Church in Florissant on the evening of June 2 for the annual North County Corpus Christi procession. They were among dozens of churches throughout the Archdiocese of St. Louis that celebrated the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ with eucharistic processions the weekend of June 1-2.

Escorted by Florissant police, the procession departed from Sacred Heart Church and wove through the streets of Old Town Florissant, ending at the Old St. Ferdinand Shrine. With the Real Presence of Jesus leading under the shade of a canopy, about 250 people along the procession prayed the luminous mysteries of the Rosary as they followed Christ on display in a golden monstrance.

Elizabeth and Steve Purghan and several of their children knelt near the sidewalk next to their family’s business, Red Oven Wood Fired Pizza, as the Eucharist made its way down St. Francois Street. Perched on a table in front of their restaurant was an antique statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, adorned with flowers and greenery.

The Corpus Christi procession, in a literal sense, brings Christ out among the public, Steve Purghan said. “Hopefully, people see it and question what it is, to where then that challenges them to ask: ‘Why would somebody do this? What’s so important about this that they would do this in the middle of the secularism of today in particular?’ I can’t imagine it’s much different than what Christ Himself experienced.”

Father Lijo Kallarackal, pastor at St. Ferdinand in Florissant, carried the Eucharist in a monstrance during a Corpus Christi procession June 2 outside Sacred Heart Church in Florissant.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
Father Tim Cook, senior associate pastor at Sacred Heart, reflected on the importance of the Eucharist in his homily at Mass, celebrated just prior to the procession. While we may experience the “routine” of receiving the Eucharist at Mass, he said, do not let the gift of Jesus’ perpetual presence escape us.

“We are nourished, we are blessed,” he said. We are also spiritually united, intimately linked to our ancestors and saints of the last 2,000 years and to those who come after us. “Remember this gift is perpetual — that we believe, we believe. And in that, we only will grow in holiness, wisdom and within the faith community.”

The sun dipped low into the sky as the procession concluded at the Old St. Ferdinand Shrine. Several participants reflected on the Eucharistic Revival taking place in the United States.

Cait Sextro, Sacred Heart parishioner: “I hope that in the way that we physically walk with Jesus down to a different church that my family in everyday life would walk with Jesus, and that everything they do will have their eyes fixed only on Him and nothing else. I think that processions like these are massive witnesses to the public and what we should be symbolizing in our own spiritual life. So I think it’s really cool to witness to those around us.”

Jeff Finnegan, pastoral associate at Sacred Heart: “With 2,000 years of the Eucharist being the center of our faith, it needs to be re-examined all the time. With something that we do so commonly and collectively, it needs to be brought back to the forefront of why we do what we do. What we’re doing with All Things New, through the struggle and the change, (the Eucharist) is still the thing that keeps all of us together as people of faith. A revival is always a good thing. It can be a real thing with a lot of excitement.”

Father Peter Faimega carried the Eucharist in a monstrance during a Corpus Christi procession June 2 in Florissant.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
John Bridegroom, St. Norbert parishioner: “With the Eucharist, I really feel the presence of the Holy Spirit … it’s such an intense feeling. I noticed it in the past at the SEEK conference and now looking forward to the Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis.”

Annie Bridegroom, St. Norbert parishioner: “We have so much depression and anxiety, and suicide rates are up. There’s so much isolation with people these days on their phones and different isolating activities, like social media. So having a revival of remembering what we’re really here for, and tapping into the root of where our joy comes from, is necessary for everybody — especially young people. It’s so necessary.”

Andrea Halfmann, Sacred Heart parishioner: “Receiving everything that’s come out of Eucharistic Revival, I’ve been able to dive in and renew that personal devotion to the Eucharist and the Mass, especially in this last year. Especially in St. Louis, parishes are coming together, and there’s a lot of logistical things that are hard. If we could all just keep our eyes on: What is a parish? It’s a family of people worshipping the Eucharist.”


>> Historic procession dates back centuries

Catholic settlers brought the Corpus Christi procession to north St. Louis County centuries ago. The earliest French settlers called the Corpus Christi procession the “Fete-Dieu.” In 1825, Father Jacob Van Assche, SJ, described one of the early processions held at the Old St. Ferdinand Shrine, the oldest church in north St. Louis County.

“One of the Indian boys carried the cross; then came four of them in surplices carrying little bells, and after the rest. The Indians are followed by the boys of the Sunday School and these by the women, then came the girls of the Sunday School and conducted by the nuns, then the boarders followed by their teachers and the other nuns; then the clergy, our Father Superior carrying the Blessed Sacrament attended by deacon and subdeacon, two chanters in copes and a master of ceremonies. After these marched a body guard of soldiers.

“To enhance the beauty of the procession, statues were carried by the children who scattered flowers along the way while hymns were sung alternately by the nuns and scholastics.

“In the midst of a field adjacent to the church an altar was fitted out with the finest decorations we could procure. It was guarded by more than twenty soldiers, several of them Protestants, who discharged their muskets before, during and after Benediction.”

Source: Old St. Ferdinand Shrine

From the Archive Module

North County parishes bring Jesus to the streets as part of annual Corpus Christi procession in Old Town Florissant 9667

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