Galesburg parishes unite in celebration at diocese’s only Corpus Christi Church
GALESBURG — With pandemic restrictions easing, people are looking for ways to come together for worship, as well as fellowship. Members of the Galesburg Catholic Community did both last Sunday by gathering behind Jesus for a Corpus Christi procession around the only church in the Diocese of Peoria named for the feast day.
“Every one of our parishes in town — Immaculate Heart of Mary, Corpus Christi, and St. Patrick — had one of the outdoor altars they decorated and set up themselves,” said Father Lee Brokaw, pastor of all three and Sacred Heart in Abingdon. “We had altar servers from all the parishes, too.”
Assisting were seminarians Daniel Dionesotes and Benjamin Schoonmaker. To make certain everything ran smoothly, Ben Wilson, a master of ceremonies for Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, and Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka, was on loan for the day.
Father Brokaw and the monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament were covered with a canopy carried by members of the Knights of Columbus, Father Joseph O’Connor Hunt Council No. 556: Grand Knight David Wynes, Mark Fields, Mark Varnold, and Mike Wright.
People continued the celebration at a reception hosted by the Corpus Christi Altar and Rosary Society. It was held in the McAteer Center parking lot after the procession and many stayed to enjoy finger sandwiches, fruit and dessert on the beautiful late spring day.
A HUNGER FOR EUCHARIST
“The Holy Eucharist is an eternal and extraordinary gift. The greatest blessing of my entire life is to stand at the altar in the person of Jesus and give him to you,” Father Brokaw told the people who filled Corpus Christ Church for the 10 a.m. Mass that preceded the procession.
He said that particular Mass has been the best attended each week since the ropes that cordoned off the pews were lifted about a month ago. Numbers have been increasing since Easter, he told The Catholic Post.
Corpus Christi processions were a tradition in Galesburg, but haven’t been held in several years, he said.
“I think we’ve lost a lot of culture and a lot of customs in many of our churches, one them being Corpus Christi processions and feast days,” Father Brokaw said, adding rogation days for farm families. “I’ve just desired to do more integration to bring back Catholic culture in general and I thought why not — coming out of when restrictions have been lifted — why not celebrate Corpus Christi big this year and invite all of our parishes to celebrate?”
While most of the people who attended were from Corpus Christi Parish, there were also members of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish and St. Patrick Parish in Galesburg, and Sacred Heart in Abingdon, according to Father Brokaw. Each outdoor altar featured symbols special to the sponsoring parish, such as a statue of Mary crowned with flowers at the Immaculate Heart of Mary altar, and a figure of St. Patrick at that parish’s altar.
Father Brokaw led people in the Litany of Poor Souls at the Corpus Christi altar, and the Litany of the Blessed Sacrament at the St. Patrick altar.
The procession ended where it began — at the altar of sacrifice inside Corpus Christi Church. The celebration concluded with Benediction.
“Catholics have a hunger for the Eucharist that you can’t really even put words to or describe. I think some people returned with great fervor,” Father Brokaw said. “And there’s some, unfortunately, who lost a desire or taste for the divine.
“That’s our effort, as priests, doing things like this, to restore a sense of sacredness, a sense of ritual, a sense of culture, but also to help people realize there’s a hunger for the Eucharist, even if they don’t know they have it,” he said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Several parishes in the Diocese of Peoria hosted Corpus Christi processions on June 6. Photos from other sites will be included in the next print edition of The Catholic Post, and additional photos from the celebration in Galesburg have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.