Nearly 500 pray for vocations during local eucharistic procession
Story and photos by Terence Hegarty
LUDLOW – Stopping at four different parishes in Ludlow, and trekking from one church to another in public witness to their faith, local Catholics prayed for vocations the afternoon of June 22 as part of a eucharistic procession on the feast of Corpus Christi.
The procession began at 12:30 p.m. and hosted nearly 500 faithful. Participants began the procession after the 11:15 a.m. Mass at Christ the King Parish, winding down nearby streets such as Sewall, Howard and Oak on their way to St. Elizabeth Parish on Hubbard Street.
Following prayers and readings in the church, the procession stepped off again and traveled to Sts. Peter and Paul Ukranian Catholic Church on Newbury Street before concluding at Our Lady of Fatima Parish just down the road on Winsor Street. Attendees prayed a decade of the rosary at each church.
“What a great joy for us to be here today,” Father Gary M. Dailey, who serves as director of vocations for the Diocese of Springfield, told iobserve.
The Knights of Columbus honor guard led the way. Next in line were young girls spreading flower petals on the roadway. They were followed by standard bearers, each carrying a banner that represented one of the four parishes. Hundreds of participants walked behind and were followed by the carrying of the Blessed Sacrament as priests and altar servers walked alongside.
“It’s really a public witness and awareness of our fundamental belief that Jesus is present under the appearance of bread and wine as the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ,” said Father Dailey.
“It makes sense for us to bring that outside the church to publicly express that to everyone because the Eucharist is a sign of communion and it brings us together,” he said.
Father Dailey noted that prayer for vocations is very important. “Without the priest there is no Eucharist,” he said, “and so we need to pray for priests. But, we also need to pray for women religious too and religious brothers, that they will be the face of Christ to so many people in the world today.”
Stasia Slota, a native of Poland and a member of Christ the King Parish, traveled the procession route while pushing her granddaughter in a stroller. She said that the effort was definitely worthwhile.
“It’s very important because we need priests and we need society to be better,” Slota told iobserve. She was dressed in traditional Polish costume, as were several other participants. “Every day, when we work, when we pray, whatever we do, we meet people and we praise God,” she said.
Slota also had another very important prayer consideration.
“I am praying for my oldest daughter… who has a severe brain injury,” she told iobserve, fighting back tears. “She’s at home right now, so I really pray for her recovery.”
Father Dailey said that some participants with physical challenges still managed to walk the route, something that shows their dedication to their faith. “There are elderly people here and young people coming together and witnessing by walking. And, it’s through our walking with Jesus that … gives us the grace to be able to do what we do as Catholic Christians,” he said.
“It’s a sense of pilgrimage, a pilgrimage with our Lord,” he said. “There are people throughout the world who walk miles and miles to come to Mass.”
Christ the King Parish has a chapel where eucharistic adoration for vocations is held 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Currently, there are six men who will begin formation for the priesthood for the Diocese of Springfield in the fall and there are an additional five who are still in the application process to begin seminary training this fall, Father Dailey said.
For more on this story, tune into an upcoming edition of “Real to Reel,” the Diocese of Springfield’s television newsmagazine that airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.