In an impressive and prayerful display of love and reverence for the Most Holy Eucharist, 200 people walked with the Lord in a Eucharistic Procession through the streets of Lancaster city on Saturday morning, June 11.
Organized by the Padre Pio Prayer Group in Lancaster, the procession began after the celebration of Mass at St. Joseph Church and traveled along a one-mile route to Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, through Penn Square, to the Lancaster County Courthouse and on to San Juan Bautista Church, where the Eucharist was reposed.
Along the way, the contingent of Catholic faithful sang hymns of praise and prayed the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, stopping at the churches and the courthouse, where they knelt in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Priests of the parishes carried the monstrance under a canopy, accompanied by deacons, members of St. Michael’s Guard and the Holy Name Society, as cantors led hymns and prayers over a portable sound system.
Adults and children alike joined in the procession; parents pushed infants in strollers, First Holy Communicants donned their suits and white dresses, and parishioners carried Rosaries.
The sight of 200 people processing behind the Blessed Sacrament and escorted by the red and blue lights of police vehicles was more than enough to draw the curiosity of onlookers along the route, enjoying a walk in the square and outdoor brunch at local eateries. Some inquired about the purpose of the procession, while others joined in prayer and bowed or knelt as the Holy Eucharist passed by.
It’s exactly the response procession organizers were hoping for.
“We are bringing Jesus physically out of the church and into the streets. For those involved, they are showing their faith by taking part and publicly walking with Jesus through the streets, come whatever may happen. It is hoped that those seeing the procession will be impacted, such as by having their faith revived, or maybe get them to begin to ask what it is all about and learn about the Catholic faith,” said Patrick McSherry, a member of the Padre Pio Prayer Group in Lancaster.
“We do not know what God’s plan is for the procession, how He intends to use it. We help sow the seeds that others may reap. The procession casts seeds all over the city,” he said.
The Padre Pio Prayer Group is part of the worldwide movement started by St. Padre Pio in 1947 for “the cultivation of the faith; the germination of love, where Christ Himself will be present at every prayer meeting; the fraternal agape under the guidance of a pastor or spiritual director.”
The group works to promote the devotion to Padre Pio through lectures and pilgrimages, and conducts meetings that include Mass, Adoration, the Rosary and the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Eucharistic Procession on June 11 was the group’s second such event, held a week before Corpus Christ Sunday; the first was in honor of Padre’s Pio’s feast day in 2018.
McSherry told The Catholic Witness he was inspired by the respect of onlookers, having noticed people who quieted music in their cars, calmed barking dogs and exhibited patience as traffic was stopped.
“Though we are always prepared for the negativity of this world, with the procession, we seldom find it,” he said.
“We see people looking on in curiosity. We see people sitting on their porches, praying along with those in the procession, or see them reciting the Rosary by themselves. At times, we see people who fully understand and see them drop to their knees as the Eucharist passes. People offer us blessings and express their thanks, though all we are doing is walking with Jesus. How simple is that?”
McSherry expressed hope that the Eucharistic Procession in Lancaster will become an annual event to publicly and prayerfully display reverence for the Holy Eucharist.
“Public processions in the streets are somewhat unusual in our area. We ought to change that, and give God the opportunity to use the processions for evangelization,” he said.
Learn more about the Padre Pio Prayer Group in Lancaster at Home – Padre Pio Prayer Group – Lancaster, PA (pmm999.wixsite.com)
(Photos by Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness.)
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness