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Walking with Jesus in Glenwood Springs

By Karin Gamba

On June 11, the Feast of Corpus Christi, parishioners from St. Stephen Catholic Church in Glenwood Springs did something incredible and unprecedented in recent memory. They took to the streets en masse to publicly proclaim their faith and belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

The faithful gathered inside the church for a special bilingual mass, the third mass of the day, while others waited outside for the much-anticipated chance to participate in the devotional procession. The convoy of believers was heralded by traditional Matechine dancers, followed by Juan Mendoza holding the cross, Parochial Vicar Father Tony Davis, several altar servers, and Pastor Father Bert Chilson carrying the monstrance containing the Eucharist. Following behind were upwards of 400 people singing hymns and prayerfully accompanying our Lord from the church, through a residential neighborhood and around one of Glenwood Springs’ main city parks.

“The love of Christ is contagious,” Father Davis said in his Corpus Christi homily. He encouraged his flock to fan the flames of Eucharistic love by taking Jesus on procession in Glenwood Springs. God’s presence was witnessed by non-participants as well. Sunday park-goers took note as Jesus passed, and cars driving Glenwood’s main thoroughfare slowed down to rubberneck at the proceedings.

Photo courtesy of St. Stephen Parish Facebook page

As well as honoring our Eucharistic Lord, St. Stephen’s Corpus Christi procession was also a beautiful expression of cultural unity. The mountain parish serves a diverse mix of English and Spanish speakers and the event seamlessly brought both communities together. In addition to the bilingual mass and Matachines, a group of Anglos crafted the canopy that was used, while the parish’s Spanish prayer group created outdoor altars for worship during the procession. At various points along the route, parishioners joined in praise, singing in Latin, Spanish, English and Polish.

For many, especially those who hail from Latin America, the Corpus Christi procession was a welcome taste of home. While the Catholic tradition of full-scale Eucharistic processions has fallen off in the U.S. over the decades, it is alive and well in Mexico, Central and South America.

“When I told the Spanish speaking congregation that we were going to have a Corpus Christi procession, they spontaneously burst into cheers at Mass; their joy was overwhelming,” Father Davis said.

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The sentiment was similar among the Polish who showed up at the event accompanied by multiple generations of family members, but for most Anglos, participating in the Corpus Christi procession was something new.

Photo courtesy of St. Stephen Parish

“My mother, who is in her 90s, remembers Eucharistic processions from her childhood,” parishioner Jane Carrington said. “For me, it was a first; and the beginning of many more to come, I hope.”

If this year’s procession is any indication of the growing fervor St. Stephen’s parishioners have for Christ truly present in the Eucharist, walking with Jesus through the streets of Glenwood Springs will become a tradition that only gains traction among the Catholic faithful in the hot springs town.

St. Stephen’s Corpus Christi procession grew from the U.S. bishop’s National Eucharistic Revival, an initiative for parishes across the country to restore the Church’s teaching and belief that Jesus Christ — body, blood, soul and divinity — is truly present in the Eucharist.


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