Despite the hot and humid temperatures, hundreds of Catholics joined a Corpus Christi in the Capital procession on June 23, in reparation for the sins committed in the Church and to offer a witness of faith in the nation’s capital. 

The Eucharistic procession on the Feast of Corpus Christi began at Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Church in Washington, D.C., where about 300 people gathered and started their walk through the neighborhoods in the vicinity of the U.S. Capitol and the Supreme Court. Deirdre Walsh, a parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes in Bethesda, Maryland, brought five of her nine children with her. 

 “It’s important to show our faith, especially now when we’re in a way being persecuted for it, we have our beliefs too and to see something like this is beautiful in the streets of Washington,” she said.

At two points along the procession route, altars were set up where people stopped to pray before the Eucharist. The priest holding the monstrance is Dominican Father Benedict Croell, who serves as director of development and mission advancement at the Angelicum, the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.(CS photo/JC Martins)

About 60 religious sisters led the procession. They represented the Missionaries of Charity, the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará, and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. They were followed by priests, seminarians, deacons and members of other religious orders and lay groups such as the Knights of Columbus.

“We took Jesus right up East Capitol, one of the most important streets in the world because it goes right into the Capitol, right pass the Supreme Court, and it was an opportunity to witness to the whole neighborhood, and we hope there will be enormous fruits,” said Msgr. Charles Pope, pastor at Holy Comforter, and one of the three priests who carried the monstrance holding the Blessed Sacrament. 

“We also marched in reparation, it was a long march, but we wanted to offer up any of our sufferings in reparation for any sins committed in the Church,” Msgr. Pope added.

The voices of the crowd praying the rosary caught the attention of many as the procession passed through Lincoln Park and neighborhoods along East Capitol Street. 

Participants in the Corpus Christi procession pause to venerate the Eucharist. (CS photo/JC Martins)

Many visitors at the park remained indifferent to the passing of the monstrance while others silently followed the prayers from their benches or recorded it on their cell phones. Matt Swaim knelt on the grass as the Blessed Sacrament went by; he came from Montgomery County to join the procession. 

“I heard about a Corpus Christi procession in the capital and thought what a great place to bring our Lord. I pray for our nation every day and this is a chance to publicly show that prayer,” Swaim said. 

Along the one mile stretch between the beginning of the route and the end at St. Joseph’s Church on Capitol Hill, the pilgrims stopped twice at altars prepared by parishioners. The first one was in the front yard of a row house near the intersection with 10th street, where red and white rose petals led the path to the altar prepared for the enthronement of the Blessed Sacrament. The faithful knelt in adoration on the hot pavement along the street and on the road. 

The aroma of incense and the prayers inspired Montserrat Vericat, a 30-year resident of the area, to stop and pray with the crowd. 

“God put it in my way, to pray a little bit,” Vericat said with a mix of surprise and joy, adding that was the first time she had “seen anything like this, it’s very moving.” 

The diverse crowd included a great number of parents with children of all ages and a strong presence of young adults. 

Krista Keil was one of the volunteers who helped organize the procession, she said that as a survivor of sexual abuse, the prayer was very meaningful. 

“As we prayed a prayer particularly for reparation for the wounds that have occurred in the Church, it brought tears to my eyes because it was such a powerful experience,” Keil said. “As someone who has experienced some of those wounds, I think it’s a tremendous pathway of healing to know that you’re stood with and that people are trying to do their best to help the Church heal.”

Msgr. Pope and about 25 volunteers from a handful of parishes in the area helped organize the procession. Besides the two hosting parishes, volunteers also represented the parishes of St. Dominic, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Anthony of Padua in Washington, a few other parishes from northern Virginia, and Catholic Men United.

Many are hoping the procession will turn into an annual event.

 After the final blessing, Msgr. Pope reminded the faithful that the prayers said on this day before the Blessed Sacrament, will not be in vain.

“Every now and again, it’s little things like these that touch people’s hearts,” he said.