Catholic processions surging in popularity

Corpus Christi processions took place at parishes across Scotland this year, a revival of a practice that had been largely forgotten.

Thousands of Catholics took part in Corpus Christi processions in Scotland this year, a revival of a practice that was common 60 years ago but had fallen out of fashion.

Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh said that the ‘impressive number’ of Corpus Christi processions in Scotland this year ‘demonstrates the desire of Catholics to worship Jesus in the Eucharist and to walk with Him as a public witness of their Faith.’

“In our archdiocese I was pleased to walk alongside many people and clergy through Falkirk High Street, singing Eucharistic hymns and praying. It was a won- derful experience,” he said.

The Diocese of Motherwell held multiple processions for the feast. St Augustine’s, Coatbridge holds a Corpus Christi procession every year, this year in conjunction with St Mary’s in the town, which had an attendance of almost 400.

“I was a little bit surprised with the turn-out, to be honest,” said Fr Michael Kane, parish priest at St Augustine’s. “In Coatbridge, we saw St James’ and St Monica’s had one as well.”

When St Augustine’s began their processions 10 years ago, it was the only one in the Diocese of Motherwell.

“During the pandemic, there was a legitimisation of not attending Mass, because you couldn’t,” Fr Kane said. “For a lot of people, the decision then had to be made to return. For the people who have returned, it has been a very strong expression of their Faith.

“Having been starved of the Eucharist during Covid, it’s created a hunger for the Blessed Sacrament. Characteristically, the Church post-Covid is probably marked much more by Eucharistic devotion than in previous times.”

Fr Kane also noted the counter- cultural nature of Corpus Christi processions.

“How many people scorn and laugh at this central doctrine of our Faith?” he asked.

“And so, for Catholics in such great numbers to come out and pin their loyalties on this and to show in a very public expression that we are gathered with Jesus and we believe that this is Jesus to the extent that we are going to bring our families out and process with Him.”

The largest procession in the country was at Carfin, which attracted 1,500 people and John Patrick Mallon, one of the organisers, said that people want religious authenticity.

He emphasised the generational unity the procession brought, which had an even mix of young and old.

“I think it comes from this idea that we need an anchor of our tra- ditions to the past so that we can continue to perpetuate our Faith to the next generation,” he said.

“You hear grandmothers saying, ‘when I was a wee girl I used to throw petals in front of the Blessed Sacrament’ and now their grand- kids are doing the same. “And after Covid there’s a great need for people to come together again after being shut in their houses.”

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