After decades without use, the processional canopy was found in storage and the Dominican friars took Jesus to the streets.
St. Joseph’s in the West Village of Lower Manhattan hasn’t had a Eucharistic Procession since anyone can remember. But Dominican Fr. Boniface is bringing this beautiful tradition back, and bring it back he did.
The procession was organized by Brother James Rich, a Dominican friar and transitional deacon, assigned to St. Joseph’s for the summer for pastoral formation.
The pastor, Fr. Boniface, was delighted when the canopy used to cover the Eucharistic Christ was found in storage in the parish: an antique but in good repair.
A procession has not been held at St. Joseph’s for decades.
Some 100 parishioners participated, but because of COVID-19 precautions, many diners were sitting outside on sidewalks in crowded cafes. Their meals became accompanied by incense and the Blessed Sacrament.
“Christ’s grace and mercy are present for all, not just for those in the church. We’re not going out as activists. We’re going out as witnesses, sharing the joy and hope and faith that all are invited. Our procession was not a political demonstration but an invitation,” Fr. Boniface reflected.
“The parish loved it,” he added. “All generations. There was a real excitement. After a year of the pandemic, to come together and do something public was powerful. There was a sense that the faith can be lived; it’s tangible and real and that we can take part in it…. It’s also just an awful lot of fun!”
“One bystander shouted, ‘What Church is this? I’m going to go to Church there!’”