Wednesday, January 28, 2009

So You Want to Hold Eucharistic Procession - What Next?

In the spirit of sharing with others what I learned about organizing a Corpus Christi Procession, here we go with the first installment.

  1. Desire. You have to want to do this. You will come across obstacles - some may be big, many will be small, but don't give up. What you are doing is too important. Overcome the obstacles through persistence, prayer, and charity (some obstacles may be people). There are a lot of things vying for people's time and attention. There may be apathy or misunderstanding. Be patient with others, yourself, and God. This is God's work, not yours, but he wants your "boots on the ground."

  2. Pick an occasion. Corpus Christi (the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ) is a great place to begin (but it's not the only time you can have a Eucharistic procession). In 2009 in the U.S., Corpus Christi is observed on Sunday, June 14 (although the actual feast day is Thursday, June 11).

  3. Get the permission of your parish's pastor (assuming you are doing this at a parish). Make it clear to him that you will handle everything. If he is unable to lead the procession (or if you have someone else in mind for specific purposes), let him know that you will get someone to lead it. Deacons can hold the monstrance (which holds the consecrated host). Pastors have a tremendous amount of work on their plate these days, and adding one more thing for them to do can seem overwhelming. The more your pastor understands that he is not responsible for making this procession happen, the more likely he will be willing to grant permission for it.

  4. If the pastor gives you the green light, the parish needs the permission of the bishop to hold the procession. Draft a brief letter indicating the day, time, and procession route, have the pastor sign it, and then have the parish office mail it to the bishop. It is doubtful any bishop would not approve it, but you need to ask.

  5. Determine who will lead the procession. It is required that the person holding the monstrance be ordained: a bishop, priest, or deacon. In our case, because the procession was to pray for vocations, we arranged for the archdiocesan vocations director (a priest) to carry the monstrance.

  6. Determine the route of the procession. We went from the parish to the archdiocesan seminary and back to the parish for benediction - about 1/3 of a mile. Another parish in town processes from one parish to another - about 2 miles. Some processions are on the grounds of a parish. It is also traditional to have "stations" along the way (where you stop, set the monstrance on a temporary altar, pray and use incense, and then move on), but this is not required. We had two stations, one at a Catholic high school across the street from our parish, and one at the seminary.

  7. Check with your local police department. In Cincinnati, if you use the sidewalks only, you don't need a permit. We did have to deal with stopping traffic a little longer than the traffic signals allowed to get everyone across, but we did that ourselves. If we were to process down the middle of the street, we would need a permit and police escorts. However, we didn't want to stop traffic, because we wanted to be seen. If the procession were substantially larger in terms of participants, though, the sidewalks would have been insufficient.

That makes for a good beginning. We'll look at what else is involved next time.


the booklady said...

Wonderful Pete! I need to get my act together and read a book on the Eucharist I've been meaning to read. Then, if you don't mind, I'm going to link to these awesome posts you've put together!

'We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works.' Hebrews 10:24

I read so much bad news these days, it's Joy to contemplate taking Him to the streets as you have written!

God bless!

Pete Caccavari said...

I don't mind at all, Booklady, if you link to my posts. Thanks for your encouragement. I look forward to hearing more about the book you're thinking of.