On eve of Election Day, Detroiters turn to the Eucharist to pray for the nation

Canon Michael Stein, ICKSP, rector of St. Joseph Shrine in Detroit, holds the monstrance containing the Eucharist during the Unite Our Nation procession in Detroit on Oct. 31. The procession is part of a nationwide campaign to take Christ to the streets before the election and is one of many prayer opportunities Detroit-area Catholics have before the Nov. 3 election. (Photos by Dan Meloy | Detroit Catholic)

Eucharistic procession through city of Detroit, around-the-clock adoration part of placing Christ before politics in tense times 

DETROIT  Three days before one of the most contentious elections in modern American history, Alex Rovinski and hundreds of other Catholics were walking the streets of Detroit, proclaiming the kingdom of God. 

Rovinski and an estimated 1,000 people took park in Unite Our Nation’s Eucharistic procession, which took place Oct. 31 in Detroit, one several opportunities for Catholics to pray for the nation ahead of the Nov. 3 election. 

“We are having a Eucharistic procession to re-assert the primacy of Christ in the lives of the people of the United States,” Rovinski told Detroit Catholic while holding an American flag during the procession, which included stops at three churches for Eucharistic benediction. “You can see how divided, how set at each other’s throats everyone is right now. Christ is the one who unites; we need Him now more than ever.” 

A Dominican Sister of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, takes part in the Oct. 31 Eucharistic procession through the streets of Detroit, in front a statue of Our Lady of Fatima and a banner encouraging Catholics to pray the rosary.

Unite Our Nation has organized more than 140 Eucharistic processions in cities and on college campuses across the country, a prayerful counterbalance to the rancor, division, rioting and social unrest that have dominated 2020 headlines.  

“There is so much tension in our cities, so much tension and general anxiety of where things are going, how much conflict has been building,” said Darren O’Brien, state organizer for Michigan for the Unite Our Nation initiative. “This is a moment when we as a Church can speak to the country about re-engaging with Christ, really bringing praying to the forefront, bringing Christ to the streets.” 

The procession began with Eucharistic benediction at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish on Woodward Avenue in Detroit, before venturing out to Detroit’s near east side, making stops at Sweetest Heart of Mary Church on Canfield and St. Joseph Shrine on Jay Street. 

Before heading out, worshippers adored the Blessed Sacrament as St. Joseph Shrine rector Canon Michael Stein, ICKSP, led the prayers. 

The United Our Nation Eucharistic Procession started at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Detroit, before heading to Sweetest Heart of Mary Church, passing by St. Josaphat Church (pictured) and ending at St. Joseph Shrine.

Unite Our Nation is a lay-led Catholic movement, which O’Brien says only increases its impact in creating a sense of Catholic citizenship in the country and bringing a healing presence in a divided nation. 

“At the center of all of this is a longing for this connection with Christ,” O’Brien said. “We are experiencing a sense of anxiety in how far we have fallen away as a people. Processions like these are really powerful because they bring out in the open a sense of awareness of how much we hunger for this relationship, this experience with Christ. The energy we receive from this connection to Christ leads to a connection to the larger community, a community that is centered and based on love for one another.” 

As Catholics head to the polls tomorrow, many churches are hosting vigils, holy hours and Eucharistic prayer services to help Catholics discern the choices they face in the voting booth, as well as to pray for the soul of the nation after either President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden is declared a winner of the presidential contest.  

An estimated 1,000 people took part in the procession, pictured traveling down the Dequindre Cut near Detroit’s Eastern Market.

“I think people need to think of themselves as Americans first and their political alignment second,” Rovinski said. “We are all in this together. We all have to live with each other whether we like each other or not. When we sit down, work together and find common ground, rather than focus on the things that set us apart, we can find out that dialogue is possible.” 

With no-reason absentee voting in Michigan, many have used the opportunity to vote before Tuesday’s election, but those who haven’t yet casted their ballots, or those who already have, can visit 

Christ the King Parish on Grand River Avenue in Detroit is hosting all-day exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Nov. 3, concluding with benediction at 7:45 p.m. 

A woman prays the rosary during Eucharistic benediction at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Detroit before the procession begins.

“During this past year, all have been affected in some way by the pandemic, all the issues of civil unrest with the Black Lives Matter movement and the economy,” said Christ the King Deacon Joe Urbiel. “I don’t need to remind anyone how divisive this election has been; but after studying all the issues, praying about it and making a decision, what better place is there for people to take their troubles than the Blessed Sacrament?” 

When talking heads, op-eds and online rancor have dominated much of the campaign season, Deacon Urbiel said spending time with the Lord can put the election into perspective. 

“Prayer is such a powerful tool,” Deacon Urbiel said. “We need to take what is on our heart to God. It’s always good for us to get consolation from God. He knows our problems, what we’re dealing with. He’s got our back. And we can only do that through prayer, reading the Scripture, discerning how our Lord wants us to vote, wants us to act. This what the Church should always be teaching.” 

Members of the faithful kneel before the Eucharist at Forest Park, across the street from Sweetest Heart of Mary Church.

North of Detroit in Orchard Lake, SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary is hosting 36 hours of adoration from Nov. 2 at 9 a.m. to Nov. 3 at 9 p.m. at the Detroit Archdiocesan Shrine of St. John Paul II, inside the campus chapel. 

The chapel doors will be open throughout the night, with no need to sign up, said Fr. Przemyslaw Nowak, vice rector of SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary.  

“We’re allowing people to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament, to pray for peace in our nation,” Fr. Nowak said. “We believe Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, that He is present in the Eucharist. So we humble ourselves in Christ, praying for the nation, the Church, praying for peace.” 

Fr. Nowak said the entire Orchard Lake campus is aware of the social division wrought by the pandemic, lockdowns and social unrest stemming from police-involved killings this summer. But spending time in prayer is a step toward peace, he said. 

The Eucharistic procession makes its way past the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. The building has lettering that reads, “Everything is going to be alright,” a phrase with relevance for a people who proclaim the kingship of Christ beyond Election Day.

“We are giving people the opportunity to just have inner peace and be in the presence of the transforming power of Christ,” Fr. Nowak said. “The idea of 36 hours of adoration came from the people, who asked if we could do it. We have enough people signed up to cover the 36 hours, so people can come in whenever. 

“God tells us in Scripture that when His people humble themselves and seek His presence, He will revive their land,” Fr. Nowak continued. “We are humbling ourselves in front of Christ to reclaim our lives and trust in Jesus.” 

Members of the North Lapeer Cluster Parishes (SS. Peter and Paul Parish in North Branch, St. Mary Parish in Burnside, St. Patrick Chapel in Clifford and Sacred Heart Mission in Brown City) are also looking for opportunities to pray during the election, said Deacon Peter Lynch.

Procession-goers make their way past the Detroit Institute of the Arts on Woodward Avenue during the Unite Our Nation Eucharistic procession.

“We started a novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help on Oct. 25, and we are well into that now; it was a beautiful idea given to us by a parishioner at Sacred Heart,” Deacon Lynch said. “We are doing adoration, benediction and confession as well. After our 8:30 a.m. Mass on Monday, and through Election Day, we are opening the church for 24-hour adoration.” 

Cluster pastor Fr. Rich Treml gave homilies on what it means for voters to discern their decision with God’s will in mind, and Deacon Lynch credited parishioners for taking the lead on creating more opportunities for Catholics in the area to pray. 

“There is nothing stronger than praying before the Blessed Sacrament,” Deacon Lynch said. “In this time leading up the election, we were doing a 40-day rosary novena, and every day at church, we had at least 20-30 people praying the rosary for our country, for every state in the union. I think our prayer, especially in front of the Blessed Sacrament, is doubly enhanced. I believe the people participating in all these prayers leading up to the election are seeing this as a battle between good and evil. But we are relying the Holy Spirit, the Real Presence and Our Lady to see us through.” 

Those who took part in the Unite Our Nation Eucharistic procession on Oct. 31 completed their journey at St. Joseph Shrine, praying for the blessing and unity of the nation in the buildup to the Nov. 3 election.