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Corpus Christi processions a public display of devotion

Father Damien Wee brought more than his personal belongings to his new assignment as administrator of St. Francis Borgia Parish in Blair – he brought his devotion to a rich, historic Catholic tradition that is seeing a resurgence in the United States.

He and the parish are planning to hold a Corpus Christi procession June 23, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, also known as Corpus Christi Sunday.

Beginning at the church after the 10 a.m. Mass, the procession will follow a three-quarter-mile route from Davis Drive to Highway 30, then Clark Street, South Fork Road and back to the church for a concluding Benediction. 

Corpus Christi processions are a public display of devotion to the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Beginning in Belgium in the 1200s, the celebration was extended to the universal church by Pope Urban IV in 1264.

The processions involve a bishop, priest or deacon solemnly carrying the Eucharist in a monstrance through the streets, under a canopy, making stops at several small, decorated altars for prayer or Scripture readings.

Many processions include representatives from parish groups or ministries, altar servers, seminarians, children who recently received their first Holy Communion, and members of the faithful. 

“We bring Jesus out into the streets, and we leave the rest up to God. You never know who will be impacted by it,” Father Wee said. 

He began the tradition while pastor of St. Rose Parish in Hooper and St. Lawrence Parish in Scribner. 

One of the largest processions in the archdiocese is sponsored by St. Peter Parish in Omaha, now in its 14th year. The June 23 procession begins at 2:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, also in Omaha, and ends at St. Peter Church at 5:30 p.m., said Father John Broheimer, pastor of St. Peter.

Last year’s procession drew more than 800 people, and in past years, as many as 1,200 took part, he said.

On a smaller scale, but no less solemn, St. Michael Parish in South Sioux City will hold its procession on June 23 beginning at 3 p.m., after the 1:30 p.m. Mass.

The procession route will cover the two-block area around the church, and conclude with Benediction, said Father Anthony Weidner, pastor. 

Another procession will take place at St. Gerald Parish in Ralston, June 22 at 6:30 p.m. The eighth annual procession begins at the parish’s Lakeview Chapel and winds through the surrounding neighborhoods.

At St. James Parish in Omaha, a procession will be held after the 5 p.m. Mass on June 23, proceeding around the church and school property.

Corpus Christi processions may also be planned at other parishes around the archdiocese.

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