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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Record crowds return to Walk With Christ

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Record crowds have celebrated the largest Walk With Christ since the COVID pandemic, with more than 15,000 Catholics joining the procession through the streets of Sydney for the Feast of Corpus Christi.

Speaking with joy at the public witness, Archbishop of Sydney Most Rev. Anthony Fisher OP stated that the solemn event was an encouraging display of devotion as Australia aspires to host the 2028 International Eucharist Congress.

“Today, my dear friends, you have done as the Council asked and helped prepare this city and country for that event we devoutly hope Pope Francis will grant us in 2028,” Archbishop Fisher said.

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Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney Most Rev. Richard Umbers said he was proud today the Sydney faithful showed the world why the Australian Plenary Council has asked for the opportunity host an International Eucharistic Congress.

“It’s no secret that Australia aspires to host an International Eucharistic Congress, and such a public display of faith certainly adds credibility to our bid,” Bishop Umbers said.

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GIOVANNI PORTELLI 2024

As Sydney Vicar for Evangelisation, Bishop Umbers said he was emboldened by the record crowds to host even more processions in the future.

“Momentum is building for an enlivened Eucharistic culture in Sydney. The faithful have always been present, they have just been longing for an outlet to proudly declare their love of Christ,” Bishop Umbers said.

As thousands arrived on a cold and windy Sunday afternoon in Martin Place, their hearts were soon warmed during the pre-procession festivities with music and parishes connecting in fraternity before an introduction from St Mary’s Cathedral priest Fr Roberto Keryakos.

“Our Catholic faith is more beautiful than the world. Jesus Christ more beautiful than anyone else, and he calls you and I to be holy,” Fr Roberto told the crowds.

“Invite our Lord into those places that needs his presence. Don’t be afraid. If it’s been a while, come back home, if it’s been a while, run back to God.”

The combined voices of Brigidine College Randwick and St Peter Chanel Regent’s Park choirs of the Jubilate Deo program, led by conductor Ronan Reily, chanted solemnly as the shut-down precinct anticipated the arrival of Christ.

While the pre-procession show was sublime, what the thousands of Catholics craved soon arrived shortly after at the ringing of the bells. Coming up from George Street, clergy led by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP processed the Eucharistic Lord around the barricades before starting on their journey.

School and parish banners flew high above the sea of congregants who marched past a combination of confused bystanders and eager onlookers stopping to record the event.

Yet many stopped in reverent observation at the sight of the monstrance, even joining in on prayers with smiles and admiration.

A convenience shop worker on Macquarie Street left his post at the back register and pressed his face against the shop front window to get a glimpse of the astounding sight.

Director of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation Daniel Ang said the public witness was not just for the faithful, but it is an opportunity to bring the joy of Christ to the people of Sydney.

Thousands march for the 2024 Walk for Christ in honour of Corpus Christi.

“Such processions are a leaven in our largely disenchanted world. It reminds us that people come to and deepen in faith through multiple, overlapping experiences and influences, including the festive and by really ‘treading the ground’ in faith with others rather than speculating or observing from a distance,” Mr Ang said.

“A graced afternoon and a simple, joyful witness to the treasure of the church, which is Christ, for many thousands.”

Samoan, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Portuguese, Croatian and Latin American Catholics among others made up large sections of the crowd as they arrived near Hyde Park. One young boy came prepared and stood above the herd on the stairs of the Queen Victoria statue, walkie talkie in hand before he spotted his parents and ran into the sea of walkers to meet them.

As church bells rang to begin the procession, so they did at the end, this time at the Cathedral itself when the host and followers arrived in the forecourt for adoration, the gospel reading and benediction.

Archbishop preached a ferverino on communion both with the Lord and with each other.

“Today, my dear people, you have very publicly acknowledged God. Today, you have very publicly witnessed to hope and unity.

“My dear people, you have just proclaimed to our city the gift of redemption in Christ Jesus. Not through robust argument, clever rhetoric or special effects, but simply by ‘Walking With Christ’ whom you love.

“You have formed a chavurah, a minyan, a communion, not of ten but more like ten thousand!

“Like a priest calling down the Spirit upon the elements of bread and wine to change them into Christ’s Body and Blood, you have exercised your priestly power as the baptised to call the Spirit down upon this city to change it into God’s kingdom.

“That his kingdom come, his will be done, on earth as in heaven, you brought Sydney our daily Bread, the Bread of Life.

“You proclaimed that Christ lives in our city, our communities, our hearts. He has given us his all, his very Body and Blood, all his substance and reality, all his spirit and grace, so no one would be left behind. Give him your all in return!”

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