By Celine Klosterman
IOWA CITY – What better time for a public witness of faith than when Catholics are promoting religious freedom?
That’s what David Fetzer reasoned as he and fellow Knights of Columbus led the second-annual Eucharistic procession of St. Wenceslaus parishioners outside their church June 10. On that date, Catholics observed the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, formerly known as the Feast of Corpus Christi.
Singing hymns and reciting decades of the rosary, parishioners processed outside for about a block after Communion during 10 a.m. Mass. Father Michael Phillips, pastor, carried the monstrance beneath a canopy that Knights of Columbus and their wives had made. Catholics then returned to the church for benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
The procession publicly revered Christ at a time when Catholics are protesting a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate, which would require most religious employers to provide no-cost contraceptive coverage even if it is contrary to their beliefs. Such coverage would include abortion-inducing drugs, artificial contraception and sterilization procedures, all of which the Church opposes.
But Knights of Columbus Council 14385 was looking for devotions simply to increase St. Wenceslaus Parish’s spirituality when the council’s church committee organized the first eucharistic procession last year, Fetzer said. “We’re trying to bring to our parish some of these more traditional practices that have been lost.”
Parishes elsewhere, including in Muscatine and Washington, also began holding annual processions on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ in the past few years. Sugar Creek-area Catholics have done so for more than 150 years. St. Wenceslaus holds processions on Christ the King Sunday as well.
Catholics proclaim that Jesus in the Eucharist is the same Christ who walked the Earth 2,000 years ago, Fr. Phillips said in his June 10 homily. “He is here for us as much as he was with his apostles in the upper room,” the priest said, referring to the location of the Last Supper.
God never wanted to leave us, so he shares himself every day in the appearance of bread and wine, Fr. Phillips continued.
The pastor said the liturgy of the Eucharist re-presents the sacrifice Jesus made once and for all two millennia ago.
Receiving the Eucharist makes Catholics become part of Jesus and can help them grow in patience, understanding and kindness, Fr. Phillips said. “You may not see the change in yourself, but others will.”
He encouraged parishioners to take opportunities to stop into church to pray, even if just for a
Fetzer said the priest’s love for Christ inspires parishioners to do great things. “We’re very grateful for Fr. Phillips.”