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Procession Brings Family of Parishes Together

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by Lisa Fletcher

Westside Catholic Family of Parishes, which includes St. Teresa of Avila, St. William, St. Lawrence and Resurrection of Our Lord churches in Cincinnati, is eagerly preparing for their 25th anniversary celebration of the Feast of the Corpus Christi. With music, singing, prayer and community spirit, this annual Eucharistic procession, taking place on the feast day of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ on June 2, is a site to behold.

Beginning with an afternoon prayer service at St. Teresa Church, parishioners will process with the Blessed Sacrament through the streets of the West Side of Cincinnati, ending with Benediction at St. William Church. The procession will stop at two homes along the route for the community to gather for prayer.

“Everyone is invited to participate,” said Father Zach Cecil, pastor of Westside Catholics. “We work hard to make sure members of all of our parishes are involved—from singing in the choir, to serving, to opening their homes for prayer or carrying the canopy.” This Eucharistic procession started in 1999 to reconnect with a great past tradition. According to Father Cecil, St. Teresa of Avila Church had a long history of Eucharistic processions, so much so that an outdoor altar and pulpit were built specifically for these events. The tradition died out but was revitalized in 1999, and St. William joined the event.

“I think it is good to acknowledge some of the wonderful traditions that our faith holds universally and to bring them into the particular lives of the parishioners,” said Father Cecil. “There has been a long tradition of Eucharistic processions in the Church, and bringing this to our community has increased our connection to that wider tradition, while increasing our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.”

The Corpus Christi Eucharistic Procession has been a message to the Catholic community ever since it began, and it has connected the Family of Parishes in a new way, Father Cecil said. “It is a powerful message to walk through the streets with the Blessed Sacrament as a witness to what we believe and hold dear as Catholics,” he said. “Anytime we can gather as a community to witness our faith is a connection to grow together.”

Father Cecil also believes the procession helps cut through external differences that exist in the parishes to help members focus more intently on who they are as Catholics. “Worshiping together helps to put into perspective some of those little things that are not always as important,” he said.

He also believes this procession helps the Family of Parishes become one, with the culture and history of each church acknowledged, preserved and celebrated. “Focusing on this principle of Church can remind us of what is important and how particular communities have fostered those aspects of faith throughout history,” Father Cecil said.

Maintaining the uniqueness of each church while becoming one Family is important to Father Cecil and his parishioners. “The key is to bring out the particular gifts of the individual parish communities in service to the entire Family. Each parish does not have to look the same— we allow each parish to shine on its particulars. However, the core is the same, and this can bring us together.”

Going beyond parish events, Westside Catholics will use their 25 years of expertise in planning processions to help organize involvement in the Eucharistic Revival Pilgrimage in July. This leg of the national Eucharistic procession will leave St. Peter in Chains Basilica on July 7, stop at St. Lawrence for a blessing, accompanied by music, incense and prayer, then proceed to St. William ina solemn procession to conclude the day’s journey.

St. William will hold Adoration and a Holy Hour, after which the Knights of Columbus will host a community cookout that features music from Hispanic community members. On July 8, the pilgrimage will begin with Mass at St. William then proceed to St. Teresa of Avila for prayer.

Father Cecil and his staff look forward to this opportunity to host. “We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to not only engage with our Westside Catholic Family of Parishes for this national event, but also to connect with the wider community.”

This article appeared in the May 2024 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.




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