By KATIE BORKOWSKI
CARROLL – As a visible sign of joining two churches, parishioners of St. John Paul II Parish processed from Holy Spirit Church to St. Lawrence Church on Oct. 21.
The “Walk with Jesus” began with exposition of the Eucharist in Holy Spirit Church by Father Kevin Richter, pastor.
The monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament was carried under a canopy by priests and a deacon of the parish – Father Richter, Father Brian Feller, parochial vicar; Father Shinoj Jose, parochial vicar and Deacon David Prenger.
The procession was led by a golf cart through the streets of Carroll. A Knights of Columbus honor guard followed the golf cart. Behind them were two men holding lanterns, then the canopy carried by four men and the monstrance (beneath the canopy) carried by a clergy member and two more men with lanterns.
The parishioners followed and another golf cart with a PA system from Kuemper Catholic School brought up the end of the procession. A police escort assisted with traffic throughout the procession and two escorts were on hand when the procession crossed Highway 30.
During the procession, the participants recited the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet and sang different hymns.
United through Eucharist
“It (the procession) was a good, visible symbol of the connection between the two churches,” said Father Richter. “It reminds us that we are united through the gift of Eucharist – we are one in the Body of Christ.”
Father Richter was impressed with how many people “stopped respectfully in their cars as we passed by.”
Deacon Dave Prenger pointed out it was a “powerful experience” to carry Jesus through the streets of Carroll.
“I felt that I was saying (without words), ‘Hey everyone, Jesus is here! Come say hi to him.’ It was a way to proclaim that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist,” he said.
The deacon added, “I was reminded of the Jewish people in the Old Testament marching into battle with the Ark of the Covenant leading the way, bringing victory. We battle Satan every day and as long as we continue to follow Jesus and keep our eyes focused on him, we will be victorious as well.”
Preparing for procession
Deacon Prenger explained he heard of other parishes holding eucharistic processions when churches combined to one parish – Le Mars All Saints Parish (St. James and St. Joseph) and Sioux City Holy Cross Parish (Blessed Sacrament and St. Michael).
“It sounded like a neat idea,” he said. “With the first time, you never know what you are going to run into. We really didn’t have any issues at all, but there will be a few things we will improve on.”
Volunteers from both churches came together to form a committee to plan the event.
The canopy and lanterns were borrowed from St. Mary Church in Willey for the procession. Servers, people to carry lanterns and the canopy and people to lead the hymns were lined up.
“I got ahold of the Carmelite Sisters in Sioux City and other people we know – who are prayer warriors – to have them pray for good weather,” said the deacon. “It worked.”
Alan and Anne Loew, parishioners at St. John Paul II, walked the route between churches ahead of time to find out how long it would take.
Statement of Catholic faith
Father Richter felt the procession went “very well.”
“There was a good number of people who participated (more than 200), and the numbers increased as the procession progressed,” he said. “Everyone seemed to experience the procession very positively – as a strong, positive statement of their Catholic faith.”
Father Richter and Deacon Prenger both thought there was a possibility of the eucharistic procession becoming an annual event for the parish.
The procession concluded with benediction in St. Lawrence Church. Those who were not able to walk the route joined in by praying in the church until those processing arrived.
After benediction, the Ladies’ Guilds and Men’s Clubs provided lunch. Following the meal, attendees were invited to view a movie about the life of Pope St. John Paul II.
“Thank you for your participation in this eucharistic procession today,” said Father Richter. “It is a good sign of our communion between these two churches here in Carroll.”