Corpus Christi Sunday – Celebrating the Real Presence with processions

In a tradition which dates back nearly 800 years, on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), the faithful at Parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice celebrated the Real Presence of Jesus Christ on June 2, 2024.

Eucharistic processions throughout the Diocese of Venice gave a “public witness of our faith in the Most Blessed Sacrament,” a true celebration of the Eucharist and the Real Presence of Our Lord.

At Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers, the Pastor, Father Hugh McGuigan, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, explained the importance of the Solemnity as a “celebration of the fulfillment of God’s great desire to be one with His people – to establish an everlasting covenant with us – a covenant which guarantees our forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Following Mass, Father McGuigan invited the faithful to take a “walk with Christ.” The Corpus Christi procession began with the placement of a consecrated host in the monstrance (a sacred vessel that displays the sacred host to the faithful). After a brief time for all to pray before the Most Holy Eucharist, the procession, led by altar servers carrying candles and an incenser, advanced out of the Church sanctuary.

Because of the heat, the procession led out into the courtyard and into the Parish Hall. At three locations along the route there were decorated altars where the monstrance was placed and, after a period of prayer, which included a Gospel reading and intercessions, the people were blessed. In this way the Church shows that Christ, here among us, walks with us on our pilgrimage to heaven. A Eucharistic Procession is not only a tradition in the Catholic Church but is a public witness of our faith in the Blessed Sacrament in the community.

Processions, like the one at Our Lady of Light, and elsewhere throughout the Diocese, took on a special meaning during a time of National Eucharistic Revival and teaching leading up to the July National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis. There, tens of thousands of Catholics will gather to celebrate the National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year movement by the U.S. Bishops to answer the call of Jesus Christ to return to the source and summit of Our Faith – the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. Bishop Frank J. Dewane will be leading a group of pilgrims to the Congress.

The National Eucharistic Revival was launched as an initiative of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in 2022. Here in the Diocese of Venice, at the direction of Bishop Dewane, several major events have taken place, including a 2023 Diocesan Eucharistic Congress and Youth Rally, a 2024 Diocesan Eucharistic Conference, as well as many more Most Blessed Sacrament-themed Parish initiatives. These events drew thousands together to set hearts afire in celebration of the Most Blessed Sacrament.