Hundreds expected Oct. 8 for eucharistic procession that ‘bridges’ the Quad Cities

Hundreds of Catholics from both Illinois and Iowa are expected to take part in the Emmaus Procession with the Blessed Sacrament that will cross the Centennial Bridge (pictured) between Davenport and Rock Island during a 5-mile walk on Oct. 8. (Photo from Wikimedia.org/By Farragutful - Own work)

Only two disciples had the blessing of walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus, but everyone is welcome to accompany the Lord, present in the Eucharist, as part of an Emmaus Procession through the Quad Cities on Saturday, Oct. 8.

It will begin with Mass at 8 a.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 422 E. 10th St., in Davenport, Iowa, and take pilgrims to St. Anthony Church before crossing the Mississippi River at Centennial Bridge to continue the walk through Rock Island. A Mass of Thanksgiving is planned at St. Mary Church in Moline, where the procession will end.

At five miles, the route will be slightly shorter than the seven miles St. Luke mentions in the Gospel narrative, but it will still allow people to reflect on Scripture and the importance of the Eucharist, and pray as they walk behind the Blessed Sacrament. Bishop Louis Tylka will be present, as will Bishop Thomas R. Zinkula of the Diocese of Davenport.

It is estimated that the procession will arrive at St. Mary in Moline at about 11:30 a.m.

“It has gotten so much bigger than I expected,” said Taryn Watkins of Peoria, who has wanted to do this for some time. “I had no intentions of going across the river or even inviting the bishops. I was hoping for 50 people — I thought that would be great.”

The Lord had other ideas.

EVERYONE CAN PARTICIPATE

People on both sides of the river are excited about the procession, so there could be anywhere from 300 to 1,000 pilgrims following Jesus, said Watkins, a consecrated virgin and art teacher at St. Philomena School in Peoria.

“We’re hoping to get as many priests and deacons to join us as would like, because I don’t think any one priest will be able to carry the monstrance for that many miles,” she told The Catholic Post.

Taryn Watkins

To accommodate those who may not be able to walk the whole distance or families who want to participate but can’t do the whole thing, shuttle buses will be available.

“We’re also having a contemplative portion of it for people who want to be part of it, who love the Lord, but can’t walk,” Watkins said. “At each of the churches, and especially at St. Mary in Moline, they will be able to come for prayer.”

In addition to Sacred Heart Cathedral, churches on the route include St. Anthony in Davenport, and St. Mary and Sacred Heart, both in Rock Island.

After Mass in Moline, parishioners will provide food for the pilgrims for a donation, according to Watkins.

SPREADING LOVE, DEVOTION

While she has been thinking about this for a few years, Watkins said it was God’s providence that everything came together as the National Eucharistic Revival is beginning.

“I have such a great love for the Eucharist. The Lord has given me that gift,” she explained. “I want people to know and love the Lord in the Eucharist.”

She has been working with Father Joseph Baker, pastor of St. Ambrose in Milan and St. Patrick in Andalusia, and a committee made up of Quad Cities parishioners, and they hope first and foremost that the procession will honor God and foster a deeper love for God — “to give him everything we have because he has given us himself.”

Secondly, they are looking for solidarity and mutual support among the dioceses and the groups within them “as brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Evangelization is another goal, Watkins said.

“I know there will be people looking out their windows and thinking, ‘What is going on?’ We want to invite them to walk with us or maybe hand them a medal or something telling them what this is,” she said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information about the procession or to sign up to volunteer, visit emmausqc.com. In addition, the Diocese of Peoria is providing information on events like this and other resources for the National Eucharistic Revival at cdop.org/EucharisticRevival. A story on diocesan plans will run in the Sept. 25 issue of The Catholic Post.

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