Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 30, 2008
Jesus returns to the streets of Quebec
Some fall to their knees during Eucharistic procession in secular city
By JOSEPH SINASAC
- CNS photo/ Robert Galbraith
Women help each other light candles during an evening Eucharistic procession through the streets of Quebec City June 19.
Today roughly 10 per cent of Catholics still attend Mass, though symbols and saints' names for streets and villages constantly remind the province's residents of their religious past.
The presence of the Eucharist - surrounded by cardinals, bishops and priests - at the end of the more than one-kilometre-long crowd gave the procession a solemn finish. While many onlookers stared curiously at the passing sight, occasionally a few would fall to their knees as the Eucharist moved past.
Meanwhile, near the front of the line there was a more festive atmosphere in which hundreds of young people mixed among their elders.
The parade started with a fourth-degree Knights of Columbus honour guard, followed by the Ark of the New Covenant, a large wooden box carved in the shape of the ark and covered with icons. This ark had spent the last two years crisscrossing Canada to build involvement in the congress among Catholic youth.
Following the ark were the "13 giants" - marionettes at least five-metres tall representing male and female leaders from the almost 400-year history of the Catholic Church in Quebec.
- CNS photo/ Robert Galbraith
Cardinal Marc Oulette, right, accompanies the Eucharist during a stop at St. Roch Church during the Eucharistic procession. At St. Roch, the Blessed Sacrament was the focus of a liturgy of blessing for the sick.
Among them were St. Jean de Brebeuf, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Margaret Bourgeoys, Blessed Marie de l'Incarnation and Blessed Francois de Laval.
Cheers arose each time one of the giants would bow or wave at the crowd.
Jordan Clark, 15, of Kensington, P.E.I., waved his province's flag as he walked in the procession.
"I love being with people who want to celebrate our faith," he said. "I've felt a strong bond with religious people in this congress who have come from all over the world."
Twenty-three-year-old Cody Gabrielson of Winnipeg carried a conga strapped over his shoulder as he walked. He said he was drawn to the congress by a "deep love for the Eucharist."
The procession, he added, gave him a "deeper understanding of how unified we are." Some elderly women waved flags from their windows along the five-km route.
Outside three homes for the aged, residents, some in wheelchairs, also watched the procession.
The Eucharist made two stops along the way, for a short prayer and adoration service at St. Francois d'Assise and a liturgy at St. Roch. Both are old historic churches in the city, while St. Roch, the city's largest church, has a reputation for service to the poor and sick.
At St. Roch, the Eucharist was the focus of a liturgy of blessing for the sick.
After St. Roch's the crowds thinned because the final destination, the Agora, an amphitheatre on the waterfront, could only hold 5,000 marchers. Some carried torches; others carried candles.
The rain that had pounded the streets on and off all day held off for most of the procession.
A brief shower did nothing to douse the joy. Umbrellas popped up, and many, including some of the priests and bishops, wore the clear plastic raincoats provided in the congress registration knapsack.
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