Skip to comments.Area worshipers march to celebrate Holy Eucharist
Posted on 10/03/2005 3:51:11 PM PDT by lightman
Area worshipers march to celebrate Holy Eucharist
By SETH GOLDSTEIN Evening Sun Reporter
Worshipers from across the 15-county Diocese of Harrisburg descended upon McSherrystown and Conewago Township Sunday for a procession to mark the end of the Year of the Eucharist.
More than 3,000 Catholics, young and old, took part in the march from the Annunciation BVM Church in McSherrystown to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Conewago Township to symbolize the end of the special year, which the late Pope John Paul II declared last October.
Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Harrisburg said he was impressed with the turnout.
"It's such a beautiful day for this manifestation of faith," he said. "I'm looking forward to this time of prayer."
The 1 1/2 mile procession took the worshipers from McSherrystown through the Smith Farm to the basilica.
Rhoades led the procession and gave a benediction at four spots along the route: the first at the church in McSherrystown, the second at the Smith Farm on Church Street, the third at the field next to the basilica's graveyard and the final benediction at the doors of the basilica.
Florence Koch of York said she came because of her love of God.
"This is an extraordinary event," she said. "This has never happened before in my lifetime."
Worshipers sang hymns and said the rosary as they made their way to the basilica.
As the procession passed in front of homes, residents knelt in respect and in prayer. One woman, Elise Niederer, watched from her car.
Youth groups from across the diocese marched with banners they made in honor of the procession.
Pat Hubbard, the director of youth ministry at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Hanover, said the procession was amazing.
"It's a great honor to celebrate our Lord through this procession," she said.
Brittany Billig, 16, of Hanover said she was glad to have the chance to take part in the procession.
"It's good to be with the other youth groups," she said. "This isn't something that happens every day."
Dick Kline of York said he came to see the bishop and to experience God with thousands of other Catholics.
"It's a tremendous procession," he said. "It really shows our love for God."
As the procession emerged from a cornfield, the basilica appeared on the horizon.
Stopping at the Smith Farm, Rhoades climbed the stairs to a makeshift altar on the back of an olive-green Utz Quality Foods truck.
As he knelt in prayer, so did the thousands of worshipers. Delone Catholic High School's marching band began to play hymns, taking turns with a smaller band set up at the site.
At times the music stopped. As the crowd knelt silently in prayer, the sounds of crickets could be heard from the surrounding fields.
Slowly and methodically, Rhoades rose and began to lead the worshipers on the final leg of their journey.
The crowd chanted in unison: "Have mercy on us and on the whole world."
At the field next to the basilica's graveyard, Rhoades once again knelt at a makeshift altar.
As the choir sang hymns, Melanie Todt of Edge Grove knelt in prayer at her father's grave.
"I thought it would be nice to see him and to share this moment," she said. "We used to go to the church as a family every Sunday."
As the procession left the field, people made their way to the front of the basilica.
Bishop Rhoades, after kneeling in front of the altar, thanked everyone for coming and participating in the procession.
"This is not the end, but only the beginning," he said to the thousands of people. "This eucharistic procession shows how Catholics carry Jesus with them everywhere in their lives."
At the end, Kerry Chrismer of Bonneauville said it was very spiritual and uplifting.
"I wouldn't miss this," he said. "This is history."
Bishop Kevin Rhoades addresses a crowd from inside The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Conewago Township after the Eucharist Procession Sunday afternoon.