Ask the faithful about the history of Eucharistic processions in the Hanover area, and the faithful quickly mention past processions that occurred 25 years ago through the streets of McSherrystown and then again 20 years ago when Bishop Kevin Rhoades led a journey to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Conewago, in October 2005.
Adding to those fond memories of publically witnessing to the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist was a procession held on September 18 under the leadership and cooperation of Father Michael Reid, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Hanover; Father Richard Lyons, pastor of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in McSherrystown; and Father Michael Rothan, who ministers to the Hanover Area Hispanic Apostolate in the York/Adams Deanery.
The procession began at St. Vincent’s and then processed through the western edges of Hanover along Third Street before crossing into Adams County and stopping midway at Delone Catholic High School in McSherrystown, where the litany of the Eucharist was prayed.
More than 300 faithful joined the procession, which also brought many people out of their homes along the route to witness it. Father Michael Rothan processed with the monstrance, relieving Father Reid who did the first leg of the 2.3-mile journey between the churches. Father Lyons served as master of ceremonies for the procession until its conclusion at the Adams County Deanery adoration chapel at Annunciation Church.
“My hope is that, through the movement of the Holy Spirit, all will encounter Jesus our Risen Lord, who is substantially present in the Holy Eucharist,” Father Reid said. “Additionally, my hope is that this procession, like a pilgrimage, reminds the participants of their own spiritual journeys toward eternal life with God.”
The route chosen for this procession was based on safety, as the old route that went to the Basilica is now heavily developed with vehicles traveling at speeds greater than the in-town posted limits. This route was safe, visible police protected. Adding to the solemnity of the occasion were various assemblies of the Knights of Columbus who led the procession. Traffic and residents of the community could not miss the distinct visible sign of the procession, easily seen across the two boroughs and counties that were traversed under bright, sunny late summer skies.
“Hopefully the visibility of the procession will inspire those Catholics who have not yet returned to Mass to do so, and further deepen the hunger of those who do attend Mass for the Eucharist…,” Father Lyons said. “We also hope to inspire those who are not Catholic to wonder what it is we are doing and start them on a path of evangelization. We are hoping to reignite the fires of faith in what has historically been a heavily Catholic neighborhood.”
(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)
By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness