St. Mary held its annual Corpus Christi procession to the old church on Sunday, June 19th after the 11 am Mass. The yearly tradition honors the Feast of Corpus Christi, which celebrates the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
The music-filled procession’s focus is the Blessed Sacrament, enclosed within a monstrance that is carried publicly through the streets by a member of the clergy. The procession symbolizes a Catholic’s spiritual journey toward God and is meant to adore, praise, and give thanks to God in a very public way. In an era when many Catholics struggle to believe that the Blessed Sacrament truly is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, the public procession is particularly meant to drive the point home.
During the St. Mary procession, the priests and deacons took turns carrying the Blessed Sacrament to three decorated altars on church property before ending with Benediction at the old St. Mary Church on Wolf Road.
“Corpus Christi is important because it is the Feast of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ,” says Michael Berger, director of Sacred Music at St. Mary and a main organizer of the event. “It proclaims the truth of the transubstantiation of bread and wine into the actual body of Christ during Mass. The real presence. It’s what sets the Roman Catholic church apart from other denominations.”
The public procession seemed to impact bystanders as well. One member of the procession reported seeing someone get out of their car and kneel on the street as the procession was crossing Wolf Road toward St. Mary cemetery.
All throughout the procession, the St. Mary Choirs led the congregation in chant and prayer. At each altar, following a reading from Sacred Scripture, the choirs sang a hymn. “Sacred music comes in to help the faithful lift their voice in prayer and song to Christ,” explains Berger. “This year we did add a few familiar tunes and blended them with traditional Eucharistic hymns. I felt these would be easy songs that the faithful could follow along with easily as we processed to the old church.”
Much practice and preparation went into organizing the procession. “There were tons of moving parts behind the scenes,” says Berger. “We began by using a basic structure of how to form processions and used traditions of St Mary’s in the mix as well.
This year, dozens of people either stayed after the 11 am Mass or showed up just for the procession on the warm, pleasant day. “Lots of ministries took shape and all came together to help with this sacred moment in time in our church,” says Berger. “Art & Environment, the Parish Staff, the Knights of Columbus, the Sacred Music Department, and the clergy were all a very coordinated effort. It seemed to work well, so we will continue this tradition for years to come!”