Eastpointe pastor drives city limits with Blessed Sacrament, invoking Christ's aid

Fr. Eric Fedewa, pastor of St. Basil the Great Parish in Eastpointe, holds the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance as he prepares for a Eucharistic procession via car around the city limits of Eastpointe on Friday, April 3. Fr. Fedewa said the idea springs from historical Eucharistic processions during times of plague. (Photos by Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

Fr. Fedewa says devotion recalls Eucharistic processions during times of plague, asking God to heal and protect inhabitants

EASTPOINTE — Even amid a crisis, Christ still reigns as king. 

One local pastor, determined to show forth Christ’s kingship, helped the Lord make a visit to his kingdom on Friday, April 3. 

Fr. Eric Fedewa, pastor of St. Basil the Great Parish in Eastpointe, with the help of a parishioner took Christ, present in the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance, on a journey by car around the city limits of Eastpointe, asking for the Lord’s protection of the Macomb County suburb from the coronavirus pandemic.

Fr. Fedewa blesses parishioners in their cars with the Blessed Sacrament on Friday, April 3, in the parking lot of St. Basil the Great Parish in Eastpointe. 

“I’ve heard about different places where priests were doing Eucharistic processions in Italy, as well as bishops in U.S. bringing the monstrance to intersections,” Fr. Fedewa told Detroit Catholic before the Eucharistic cruise — a fitting devotion in the Motor City.  “Somebody asked if I’d be willing to do a procession around the limits of Eastpointe.”

St. Basil the Great parishioners were notified of the plan via the parish’s website and Facebook page and invited to park in the parish parking lot. After an hour of adoration — with parishioners still in their cars — Fr. Fedewa took the monstrance, blessed the commuter congregation and got into a parishioner’s SUV to begin the circuit.

The route roughly followed Eastpointe’s city limits, beginning on Schroeder Avenue and continuing along 9 Mile Road, Interstate 94, 10 Mile Road, Hayes Avenue, Stephens, Beachwood Avenue, 8 Mile Road and Beaconsfield Avenue.

People pray in their cars as Fr. Eric Fedewa leads Eucharistic adoration in the parking lot at St. Basil the Great Parish in Eastpointe on Friday, April 3.

Fr. Fedewa said the initiative evoked memories of Eucharistic processions during times of plague, when priests would call upon the Lord to protect the town and the souls that dwelt there.

“In the history of the Church, it was common during plagues to see the Blessed Sacrament processed throughout the streets in order to ask the Lord to heal people from the pandemic,” Fr. Fedewa said. 

Fr. Fedewa noted Pope Francis did something similar March 27, when he brought the monstrance out to St. Peter’s Square and prayed before a famous crucifix known for protecting Rome during the plague of 1522.

Fr. Fedewa says his days are as busy as ever, updating the parish website and Facebook page, celebrating five livestream Masses per week, opening the church for prayer and adoration and constantly cleaning the church.

Fr. Fedewa said in addition to regular confessions, livestreams and devotions, volunteers at St. Basil are calling elderly parishioners to assist them with groceries and other tasks. 

He’s also enrolled parishioners to call elderly church members and assist them in any way they can.

“Our director of religious education recruited some of our faith formation families to bring groceries to an elderly parishioner who couldn’t go to the store,” Fr. Fedewa said. “Parishioners will call him again this week, asking if he needs more.”

The church, at 22851 Lexington Ave., remains open during regular business hours, even though the parish office is closed. Fr. Fedewa also is making confession regularly available.

“I feel strongly about having confession available,” Fr. Fedewa said. “I just can’t do nothing.” 

During a time when people are unable to receive the Lord in the Eucharist, Fr. Fedewa said, priests can at least make him present in other ways. 

“The groceries stores are open to get physical food, but we still need spiritual food,” he said. “So these people can still receive absolution through confession.”