Corpus Christi processions in diocese unite Catholics around eucharistic Lord

Hundred of Catholics walk down Tonti Street in LaSalle in a Corpus Christi procession June 3 that included prayerful stops at all three Catholic churches in the city. In addition to uniting the parishes, the public demonstration of faith in praise of the Blessed Sacrament also brought together both English and Spanish-speaking Catholics. The LaSalle celebration was one of several processions on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. (Provided photo/LaSalle Catholic parishes)

ROCK ISLAND — Jesus desires to bring together people and that happened in parishes around the Diocese of Peoria as processions were held to celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, also known as Corpus Christi, on June 3.

Father Anthony Co carries the monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament from Sacred Heart Church in Rock Island to nearby St. Mary Church during a Corpus Christi celebration last Sunday, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Carrying the canopy are (clockwise from lower left) Tim Ott, Mike Marolf, Frank Leone (partially obstructed view) and Luke VanLandegan. Father Co is the pastor of both parishes. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

In Rock Island, members of Sacred Heart Parish left church after the 9 a.m. Mass and walked behind their eucharistic Lord to neighboring St. Mary Church in time for the 10:30 a.m. Mass. The Corpus Christi procession was filmed by Dan Haertjens and streamed over Facebook Live so parishioners who were sick or homebound could participate “virtually.”

The parishes share a pastor, Father Anthony Co, who carried the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament the six blocks between Sacred Heart and St. Mary and celebrated Mass for both faith communities.

Wearing a white dress and veil and carrying a red rose, Elizabeth Schadt wanted to walk in the procession as a way of preparing for her First Communion, according to her mother, Kim. She received the sacrament during the Mass at St. Mary.


“It’s a wonderful way to show that we’re unashamed of our eucharistic Lord and to thank him for the gift of his eucharistic presence,” Father Co said during his homily at Sacred Heart as he invited parishioners to make the journey with him.

Over the years, he has developed the practice of making a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament every day and admitted that sometimes he gets “squirmy.” It’s then that Jesus says to him, “Relax. Your schedule can absorb five or 10 extra minutes. Stay with me.”

Father Co said being in the true presence of Jesus teaches him how to enjoy the true presence of Jesus and enter into his ministry differently. He doesn’t rush hospital visits, for example, because he recognizes these as opportunities to be with Jesus in a new way: “Stay with me. I’m in the hospital. Stay with me.”

Father Patrick DeMeulemeester carries the Blessed Sacrament as members of Sacred Heart Parish in Granville and St. Patrick Parish in Hennepin take part in a Corpus Christi procession through Granville on June 3. (Provided photo/Lisa Draper)

He encouraged parishioners to remember three things about the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. The first is that Jesus is physically present and can be found in every tabernacle around the world.

The second is that Jesus is spiritually open to us and wants to be in our presence, Father Co said.

But there’s a third component to this relationship, which is necessary for any good relationship, Father Co said.

“That’s when one person takes the time to listen to you and your dreams and the desires of our hearts,” he told Sacred Heart parishioners and their guests. “Jesus is actively, dynamically looking into our hearts to be present to our needs and desires, our hopes and our dreams.”

We need to offer that back to Jesus by spending time before the Blessed Sacrament, he said.

“He’s listening to our hopes and dreams. He wants us to listen to his hopes and dreams for the world around us, for our life, for our parish,” Father Co said.


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