Parish year of National Eucharistic Revival features expressions of faith, devotion to Jesus' true presence on Corpus Christi
DETROIT — On the patronal feast of the Archdiocese of Detroit’s mother church, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron consecrated the Holy Eucharist as bells tolled exuberantly down Woodward Avenue.
At the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament — as in parishes across southeast Michigan — the faithful knelt in worship during the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, thankful for the gift of Jesus’ real presence in the midst of his Church.
The feast of Corpus Christi, as the solemnity is commonly known, featured public Eucharistic processions across Metro Detroit despite the threat of rain — perhaps a blessing after weeks of dry, hot weather.
This year’s processions, in addition to holy hours, devotions, talks, and praise and worship events, took on added significance with the start of the second year of the U.S. bishops’ National Eucharistic Revival, the parish year.
“This is a nice day for us to give thanks for this sacrament — a special, privileged heritage, particularly this year as we begin the parish phase of our Eucharistic revival here in the United States,” Archbishop Vigneron said, addressing the faithful as well as members of the Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta, the Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver, and Knights of Columbus, gathered at the cathedral.
In celebration of the parish year, the liturgy featured the first-ever performance of two special hymns written by the winners of the Archdiocese of Detroit’s hymn composition contest, “God Our Father, Ever Dwelling,” by Kathleen Pluth, and “True Presence Now Among Us” by Orin Johnson.
The gift of Jesus’ whole self in the Blessed Sacrament means that whenever and wherever the Mass is offered, the faithful may be assured that in joining their prayers to those on the altar, God the Father sees and hears them, the archbishop said.
“We offer here the most perfect worship that it is possible for human beings to give the Father, because we join Jesus in worshipping his Father,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “Let us resolve always to treasure the Most Holy Eucharist, that we would rather die than give up this opportunity to celebrate this life-giving manna.”
As Mass concluded, Archbishop Vigneron placed the consecrated host into a monstrance, donning a short, cape-like vestment known as a humeral veil to cover his hands — a sign that it is Christ himself, rather than the minister, who blesses the people.
The archbishop then led a Eucharistic procession out onto Woodward Avenue, passing by the construction site of the new Cathedral Arts Apartments, which broke ground June 8 as part of a project to offer affordable housing to Detroiters in need.
“By this juxtaposition, the world ought to be able to understand why we do works of mercy — not out of mere philanthropy, but out of our living the Paschal mystery of Jesus, loving our neighbor because God has first loved us,” the archbishop said.
‘As if heaven touched down’
Similar Eucharistic processions took place in parishes across the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Hundreds from St. Scholastica, Presentation/Our Lady of Victory and Corpus Christi parishes processed with the Eucharist through Detroit’s northwest neighborhoods, led by Fr. Jim Lowe, CC.
The procession through the city’s Evergreen-Outer Drive neighborhood brought the Real Presence to a part of Detroit that is often overlooked, but nonetheless populated by men and women who love the Lord, said Keri Terrant, who handed out flyers to those in the neighborhood as the procession passed.
“On a day like today, we go out in procession, taking the Lord out, because God is so good that when we can’t come to Him, He comes to us,” Tarrant told Detroit Catholic. “The whole procession is a visible witness to the community of how much Jesus loves them and wants to have a heart-to-heart relationship with them and wants to draw them back into the Church.”
The daylong celebration was the culmination of 40 hours of adoration at St. Scholastica Parish, which began with Mass on Friday night, followed by two hours of praise and worship. Parishioners signed up to sit in silent adoration in the parish’s adoration chapel throughout the weekend, until the 10 a.m. Sunday Mass.
“It is an older tradition of the Church to have the people spend time in adoration before Corpus Christi,” Fr. Lowe said. “We decided that this year, leading up to the Corpus Christi procession, we’d have Mass on Friday and that would kick off 40 hours of adoration.”
Fr. Lowe said St. Scholastica has been working with the Archdiocese of Detroit’s I AM HERE Eucharistic campaign — which was recently recognized as the best social media campaign of 2023 by the Catholic Media Association — to get more Catholics to understand the meaning of the Lord’s true presence in the Eucharist.
“I can only speak for myself, but on Friday night when we were in the church, I felt the presence of God in a very tangible way that I haven’t felt in a very long time,” Fr. Lowe said. “It was as if heaven touched down in that moment, and other people were experiencing the same thing.”
Tarrant said taking the time to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and proclaim His kingship to the world, along with inviting St. Scholastica’s neighbors to come to learn more about the church, was a highlight of the day.
“Our hope is that anyone who saw the procession, Jesus in the monstrance passing by their home, they will see how much God loves them and that they realize they have a hunger for Jesus,” Tarrant said. “The procession, the information sheet, just having the grace of Jesus touch them as we walked by their homes, they knew what we were doing was special, and we hope they want to become part of it.”
Something everyone needs
Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth spent the feast of Corpus Christi praising Christ in the Eucharist during a two-hour extended “Praise Fest.”
During those hours, parishioners filled the church, worshipping in adoration and participating in an indoor Eucharistic procession. Young children knelt on the steps of the altar to be as close to Jesus as possible, and praise and worship music was played, interspersed by kerygmatic preaching from Msgr. Todd Lajiness.
The parish had originally hoped to bring Eucharistic adoration to Kellogg Park in the heart of downtown Plymouth, as it had done in 2022. However, rainy weather pushed the celebration indoors.
“Last year was so beautiful to watch the reaction,” Karen Ervin, associate director of evangelization and discipleship at the parish, told Detroit Catholic. “We could see people start to walk into the park and realize it was a worship event, like something liturgical, and (we witnessed) reverence. It just really moved us that we got to witness the Gospel and bring Jesus to the people.”
Despite not being able to minister within the heart of the city, Msgr. Lajiness said this year’s event was not a wasted opportunity.
“We're all in need of conversion, every one of us every day, and so if we ever get to the point where we don't think we need this, we're in a tough position.” Msgr. Lajiness explained to Detroit Catholic. “Even though it's here in the church, this is a blessing for us as a parish to renew our dependency upon the Lord in the Eucharist, to thank him for what he's given us, and then to continue to trust in his providence.”
Msgr. Lajiness said the desire within the Archdiocese of Detroit is that the National Eucharistic Revival will allow people to encounter the Lord in new ways — and that includes people already within the church walls.
For some, that might mean coming back to Mass more frequently, participating in private prayer or public adoration, Msgr. Lajiness said.
“We're letting that grace radiate out as far and wide as it can,” Msgr. Lajiness said.
As people entered the church for “Praise Fest,” they were handed expandable business cards they are encouraged to share with others, Ervin said.
“The design of (the business card) is for you to give it to somebody who's never experienced adoration before or doesn't know the Lord,” Ervin said. “One side includes Scripture and who Jesus is. And the other side is a little bit more about Catholic worship and how you can connect with our community. So our hope is twofold: that you have a deeper encounter with the Lord in adoration so that you can take Jesus Christ out onto the streets with you.”
Detroit Catholic editor Michael Stechschulte and staff reporters Daniel Meloy and Gabriella Patti contributed to this report.
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