Blessed Sacrament leads the way of faith

ROCKLEDGE | “The Eucharist is the source, summit and heart of holy Mother Church,” said Father Blake Britton, parochial vicar of St. Mary’s Parish in Rockledge. “Any time that we honor the Eucharist, not only in the Mass, but in the Eucharistic procession, we’re making that act publicly known—that it’s the heart of Christ in the Eucharist that will always be the source of our hope as the Catholic Church and as the body of Christ.”

Father Britton and parish pastor, Father Ivan Olmo, concelebrated Mass and took part in the Eucharistic procession led by Bishop John Noonan on Nov. 27 at St. Mary’s Catholic School. It was the bishop’s idea to engage the students and Father Olmo was thrilled to oblige. “When we think about the children, we are forming them academically and spiritually,” said Father Olmo. “Our desire is that they have a personal and intimate relationship with Him and the best way to do that is through prayer. For us, Mass is the most beautiful prayer God has given us to help form these children, but also to build a relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist.”

“Jesus ridiculed the disciples when he told them, ‘Let the children come unto me,’” noted Bishop Noonan. “Children still remind us that God is present in us all. Children can teach us so much about our faith; they take such delight in participating at Mass with their singing and joy in proclaiming the Word of God. When you participate in a school Mass and you hear the children sing their hearts out, it leaves us with nothing but peace.”

Principal Sandra Basinger said the procession was an extension of the school’s effort to “recraft” its vision statement. “What makes St. Mary’s unique? We are models of holiness. We are reverent. We are a people who care about other people and we take prayer seriously – because the whole procession was a prayer and a blessing for our school,” said Basinger.  “It was a wonderful event. The students sang, processed quietly and reverently and a lot of our parishioners also processed with us. It was very moving.”

Noting that processions are uniquely Catholic practice, Father Britton added, “A lot of our kids, because of their influence with technology, and the artificiality of TV shows… they’re not really in tune with the traditions and practices of the Church, and the beauty of these traditions and practices. So this was a way for us to introduce them to one of these outstanding traditions.”

Kindergarten through eighth grade students all participated. Fourth graders became lectors and seventh and eighth graders carried the canopy to protect the Blessed Sacrament during the procession. Others brought the gifts, served at the altar and the elementary school choir chanted and sang throughout the procession. “Our students were well prepared by our teachers and our faith formation director so that they would understand why this is significant,” Principal Basinger said. “This is a blessing for our school. It’s asking the prayer of the saints and Christ to watch over us, to bless our school and to make it a Christ-filled, Spirit-filled place for everyone.”

“Jesus always invites us to ‘Come, follow me.’ This was an opportunity for all of us to come follow Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament,” added Father Olmo. And as the children sang, “Open my eyes Lord, I want to see your face. Open my ears, I want to hear your voice. Open my heart, I want to love you more,” he said “the children had a beautiful intimate encounter with God in a way they’re not used to having.”

Bishop Noonan would like to make this an annual experience at each school in the Diocese of Orlando.

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic – November 8, 2018