Emmaus Procession unites Quad Cities in a powerful bi-state witness to the Eucharist
By Anne Marie Amacher, courtesy of The Catholic Messenger
As the gathering sang out “Alleluia,” the sun shone intensely through the stained glass windows, filtering rainbows throughout Sacred Heart Church in Moline. The Oct. 7 Mass drew a standing-room-only crowd of Catholics from the Diocese of Peoria and the Diocese of Davenport.
The liturgy preceded an Emmaus Procession from Sacred Heart to St. Mary Church in Moline and across the Mississippi River to Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Bettendorf, Iowa.
Father Mark DeSutter, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, welcomed the group to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and the procession’s start. He read a letter from Bishop Louis Tylka, who could not be present because of the unexpected death of a fellow bishop and friend — Auxiliary Bishop Kevin M. Birmingham, 51, of Chicago — whose funeral Mass he attended.
Father DeSutter was the principal celebrant of the Mass in Moline. In his homily, he focused on the dismissal rite, which calls the faithful to “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”
“Our lives point to the Eucharist,” he said. “Our lives flow out of the Mass.”
TAKING THE MASS TO STREETS
To illustrate his point, he told the story of a priest he met — Father Ralph Beiting of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, who served in the Appalachian region. Catholic bigotry was a challenge in the area he chose to serve.
Undaunted, Father Beiting shared Christ with others by feeding the hungry, working for decent housing, starting schools and summer camps. He used the phonebook to call strangers for donations. He drove his pickup truck into town to preach with a portable pulpit and sound system. He asked business owners if he could plug in his sound system to their electricity. Some obliged but most looked away.
Father Beiting preached to anyone who would listen. “He was admired for his convictions and bravery,” for taking the Mass to the streets to proclaim the Gospel, Father DeSutter said.
The bi-state Emmaus Procession, now in its second year, is an example of evangelization, the priest believes.
During the procession, participants read from Scripture, particularly Luke’s Gospel story of the Road to Emmaus. They prayed the rosary and sang.
As they arrived outside St. Mary Church, a parish choir sang in Spanish. Silence fell over the group as they prayed, following by Scripture readings in Spanish and English.
POWERFUL, BEAUTIFUL, UNIFYING
The group processed through downtown Moline and across the Interstate 74 Bridge to Lourdes in Bettendorf. There, Father Jason Crossen, the pastor, led the gathering inside for Benediction. Afterward, the Lourdes Knights of Columbus offered a lunch to benefit the future St. Joan of Arc Catholic School.
Taryn Watkins, the procession’s organizer from West Peoria, estimated 500 people participated in the Mass and/or procession. Some people joined at different stops along the way.
“It was powerful,” said Watkins. “To cross the I-74 bridge and see the two cities was amazing. It was great to be with the Lord and see the beauty.”
Hieu Nguyen, youth animator for Holy Family and St. Alphonsus parishes in Davenport, described the event as “amazing and beautiful.” Next year he hopes more youths attend.
Nick Erickson, a participant in the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults (OCIA) at Christ the King Parish in Moline, described the procession as “unifying for all the Quad-City parishes. “We let the whole community know we are here,” he said.
Jerome Reyes of Christ the King said it was a blessing to attend the Mass and procession. “It was a unifying experience.”