Hundreds Gather for Corpus Christi Procession in Portland
PORTLAND---“Any idea what this is?” asked Steve, a patio patron at Amato’s on India Street as he looked up from his sandwich and saw hundreds of parishioners approaching with the Blessed Sacrament.
“It’s Corpus Christi Sunday,” a passerby said. “It’s a procession from the church.”
“That’s pretty cool,” said Steve, who nimbly jumped on his chair, pulled out his iPhone, and began taking a video of the spectacular scene before him. “That’s amazing.”
He was hardly alone as diners, drivers, residents, and tourists all stopped to take in the hundreds and hundreds of parishioners participating in a Corpus Christi Sunday eucharistic procession through the streets of Portland on a hot, sunny day (many pictures below).
Following a packed 10 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the Blessed Sacrament was placed in a monstrance and carried under a canopy for a nearly three-mile trek through the city, with stops at St. Peter Church, St. Louis Church, and Sacred Heart Church. The massive procession was led by a police cruiser and a pickup truck with an audio system. Clergy, cantors, and choirs were next with parishioners of all ages from the five different Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes following. A passenger bus pulled up the rear with parishioners who weren’t up for the long walk from church to church.
“We stopped at St. Peter and St. Louis for special prayers for those parishes and neighborhoods and a eucharistic blessing of the community,” said Fr. Seamus Griesbach, rector of the cathedral as well as pastor of St. Peter, St. Louis, Sacred Heart/St. Dominic, and St. Christopher (Peaks Island) parishes. “At Sacred Heart/St. Dominic, we concluded with the traditional benediction and reposition of the Blessed Sacrament.”
The sights and sounds of the procession were inspiring to the Catholics participating, but clearly affected those who took it in as some passersby stopped to shoot videos, others inquired about its purpose, and some started to pray.
“The eucharistic procession helps to remind Catholics that we all have a part to play in the Church,” said Fr. Griesbach. “We are not an audience watching Jesus go by, but we are a part of the procession of faith. It helps us to develop a deeper awareness of our community and the way that the Eucharist has brought us all together. The procession brings Catholics out of our churches and into our community, allowing our community to encounter the Church in a new way. Many people have only heard stereotypes and do not understand the diversity and vibrance of the Catholic Church. We hope that the procession showed our community this beautiful and positive side of our Catholic faith and helped them to see the positive presence that our churches are to this city.”
In bringing Jesus through the streets of Portland, participants also asked him to bless the community in which they live and reach out to all those in need.
“We gathered around the Eucharist in prayer for Portland, prayer that through the grace of his presence among us, our love for God and for one another will grow and flourish in the years ahead,” said Fr. Griesbach. “We know that Jesus wants to heal and strengthen his people especially when they are in greatest need, and so we trust that his presence in the Eucharist, walking with and among us through our community, can accomplish great things.”
The procession also reflected the cultural diversity of the Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes, with groups of Vietnamese, Polish, Spanish, and Italian, among others, intermingling along the route.
“All of these people together, it is amazing to see. All ages, many stories, but together for the Eucharist. It is a special, special day,” said Duong, who attends Masses in Vietnamese at the cathedral.
Over the centuries, the tradition of processing the Eucharist through the streets on the Feast of Corpus Christi has spread throughout the Catholic Church and become a revered tradition for Catholics all over the world.
Following Sunday’s procession in Portland, a social and picnic was held for participants in Deering Oaks Park.
The event ended with smiles, pride, and a renewed sense of community among those who processed, and God only knows how many hearts and minds were touched along the path.
“I thought somebody had died,” said Beverly as she stopped on Middle Street after noticing the huge procession. “Oh, that’s right. It’s Corpus Christi Sunday.”
The National Eucharistic Revival’s Parish Year (June 2023-June 2024) will focus on local efforts for parishioners to be awakened in eucharistic amazement and renewed in gratitude and reverence for the Eucharist. Learn more at the Diocese of Portland’s Eucharistic Revival website, separated into four sections (receive, adore, celebrate, live): www.portlanddiocese.org/Eucharist.