What if Jesus walked by you as you made your way to dinner on 16th street Mall or drove home from work?
The hustle and bustle of downtown Denver came to a peaceful pause as our eucharistic Lord, along with 200 of his closest friends, processed through downtown Denver on Tuesday. An act of eucharistic devotion on the part of Catholics from across the nation, the procession was an integral part of the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference (DFMC), which is being hosted by the Archdiocese of Denver for their annual member’s conference.
“The DFMC is a membership organization for Catholic fiscal managers who serve dioceses of the church,” said John Knowles, Executive Director of DFMC. This year’s conference brought together chief financial and operating officers and other financial professionals from dioceses around the country for a time of formation, education, and community.
Notable speakers at this year’s conference included Archbishop Timothy Broglio, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Tim Gray of the Augustine Institute, Curtis Martin of FOCUS, Sr. Maris Stella of the Sisters of Life, Jane Nemcova, an expert on artificial intelligence, Jarrett Kolthoff, a cybersecurity expert, as well as many more leaders in their fields.
“The ultimate goal of this conference is to enrich member attendees intellectually, spiritually, and socially,” Knowles told the Denver Catholic. “And as we come to the final day of the conference tomorrow (Wednesday), I feel like we really accomplished that.”
Making this conference unique among other opportunities for professional growth and development, the spiritual element of the DFMC is “very robust,” Knowles commented. Throughout the conference, attendees are encouraged to participate in daily Mass, receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, pray a rosary together, and pray before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration.
On Tuesday evening, those same attendees were invited to take to the streets, accompanying the Eucharist in procession to the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
Led by Bishop Barry C. Knestout of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, the faithful processed in prayer, song and service through the downtown area, handing out bagged lunches to the poor they encountered on the way.
“In our present age, where the country seems to be drifting further and further away from Christian moorings and roots, it seems that there’s an appropriate expression and place for Christian and Catholic manifestations of faith and expressions in a public way, like a procession,” said Bishop Knestout as he reflected on the history of such devotional practices.
“…all the liturgies of the Church are meant to be full, conscious, and active, as the words go, which means our whole body, mind, and soul is engaged to expressions of worship and prayer,” Bishop Knestout added. “Our Catholic faith is one that engages the whole body.”
“This is a physical element to our Catholic faith, and we appreciate the sanctification of the physical realm. With that, our Catholic faithful have an opportunity in processions like this to have a way of expressing fully with their whole being by walking with one another, by praying and singing, and then doing this in a way that is expressive of faith, that is manifesting our worship of God and, in some ways, making that public an expression as well for those who might encounter it and see it. To me, that’s good for engaging the person in prayer and praise and subtly invites others,” he said.
“Our eucharistic adoration, our eucharistic processions and prayer and praise, our devotion should always lead us to charity”
Bishop Barry C. Knestout
Indeed, invite others they did. It is hard to ignore 200 people walking together down 16th Street Mall. Harder still is it to ignore the consistent ringing of bells, the smell of incense, the sound of hymns and the peaceful presence of the Eucharist. Dozens of passersby stopped, curious, and asked what was happening as they pulled out their phones to capture the moment.
Some of those who questioned the event were the poor and homeless who have made the streets of downtown their home. In a shift from their norm, they were met with compassionate smiles, a brief explanation and a packed lunch. No sooner had they heard a parting “God bless you,” then they encountered the Lord Jesus present in the Eucharist.
“Our eucharistic adoration, our eucharistic processions and prayer and praise, our devotion should always lead us to charity, to an outward expression of love for those who are distant from, maybe seeking or striving to draw closer to God,” said Bishop Knestout. “Some manifestation of practical charity should always flow from our eucharistic devotions.”
From the Hyatt Regency and down 16th Street Mall, the procession made its way down Broadway and up Colfax Avenue, arriving at the Cathedral just in time for Mass, celebrated by Bishop Jorge Rodríguez, auxiliary bishop of Denver.
A fitting end to a conference aiming to provide formation, education and community, the modern-day St. Matthews came together around the eucharistic table to worship the Lord they had accompanied through downtown.
“This is an important gathering,” concluded Bishop Knestout, speaking of the financial professionals in attendance at the DFMC, “because they all have a love for the Church and want to use their skills, abilities, and expertise so that they might be able to facilitate and give that foundation for and environment for the life of the Spirit to manifest, to be expressed and to live and grow in all of our dioceses and parishes. I’ve seen such great love for God, God’s people, and the people they work with and for. It’s beautiful to see.”