Contributed by Mark Gunderman
Each year, Catholics around the world celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for Body of Christ), symbolizing their belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
In the United States, the celebration of Corpus Christi is held on the Sunday after Trinity Sunday. This is a time when Catholics can demonstrate their love for Christ in the Real Presence by honoring Him in a very public way. It is also a wonderful approach in which they can also display a love for their neighbors by bringing Our Lord and Savior closer to the community.
In honor of this occasion, Saint John the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Leesburg will hold its second annual Eucharistic Procession on Sunday, May 29 at 3:30 p.m.
The tradition of bringing the Eucharistic Procession out into the Leesburg streets began in 2015, motivated by a parishioner of St. John the Apostle. She was inspired the year before by a procession in Eisenstadt, Austria, which reminded her of when she would celebrate Corpus Christi in her youth in her hometown of Dallas, TX. She found the Eucharistic procession to be glorious. Witnessing this celebration in Austria gave her the desire to bring this beautiful tradition to her new hometown of Leesburg.
The 2016 procession with the Blessed Sacrament will travel a similar route through downtown Leesburg. The procession is comprised of four altar stations with the first at the altar inside the church. At each altar station, a gospel reading from one of the four gospel writers is read. Prayers of petitions are prayed. Benediction is given at the end of each stop as the church proceeds to the next station. The congregation prays the rosary as they walk from station to station.
After exiting the church, the congregation will progress along the processional route to the second alter station placed on the cemetery grounds. The procession continues down Church Street, towards East Market Street, exiting on courthouse grounds. The third altar is placed at the bottom of the courthouse steps. The church has been granted permission to place an altar on the grounds of our Leesburg County Courthouse, a real blessing. The procession returns to St. John’s via North King Street. The 4th and last station along the processional walk concludes at an altar placed outside the church on the top of the steps.
Father Mosimann, Pastor St. John the Apostle said, “I know that historically, such processions have had a public element to it. With all of the recent discussions over public displays, we thought it appropriate to offer a peaceful and prayerful expression of faith and blessing to the town.”
“It is a grace for us to be able to again celebrate this profound and peaceful statement of faith and blessing in the town of Leesburg. Last year we were graciously assisted by the residents, police officers, town and county staff, and we are deeply appreciative of this welcome.
One of the great privileges of liberty in this country is our ability to publicly practice our faith. We are delighted to honor Our Lord in this way, and to bring his love and blessing out into the streets.”
The new St. John the Apostle Catholic Church breaks tradition to make a statement to Leesburg residents, said the Rev. John Mosimann. The church at the intersection of North King Street and Oakcrest Manor Drive, points north-to-south, instead of the customary east-to-west facing of Catholic churches, Mosimann said. The church’s front doors face the Town of Leesburg.
“We wanted to open our doors to Leesburg,” Mosimann said.
Saint John the Apostle Roman Catholic Church is located at 101 Oakcrest Manor Drive NE, just north of downtown Leesburg. The procession will take approximately 90 minutes to complete.
It would truly be a blessing if pray warriors, intercessors and members of the body of Christ come out to the county courthouse steps and pray for/with St. John the Apostle congregation.
Note: The Loudoun historian Eugene Scheel informed me that to the best of his knowledge, no church has ever brought the Holy Eucharist to the county courthouse steps (since 1757). This was truly an historic event in Leesburg and one that should be documented and disseminated to the entire church community.
Elizabeth Rice, a parishioner of St John the Apostle contributed to this article.