The organisers of one of Sydney’s greatest public displays of faith are urging parishes to host local Eucharistic Processions on the feast of Corpus Christi, after the city’s light rail works forced the postponement of this year’s Walk With Christ.
First held in 2005, the Walk With Christ eucharistic procession attracts more than 5000 people each year.
But the procession’s route from St Patrick’s, Church Hill, to St Mary’s Cathedral has been hampered by ongoing light rail works in the Sydney CBD.
“Combine the light rail works, the associated traffic diversions and the annual light show, Vivid Sydney, and things get very complicated,” said Cathy Kennedy, director of CREDO (Catholic Evangelisation and Renewal Office), the organising body for Walk With Christ.
Ms Kennedy and her team worked with the Transport Management Centre in search of a solution that would allow the procession to continue in a “meaningful, appropriate and public way while minimising effects on the non-event population”, but were unable to agree on a public route that allowed access to St Patrick’s, Church Hill, and St Mary’s Cathedral.
While organisers postponed the event, the decision brought with it new opportunities, such as the possibility of holding it closer to the Feast of Christ the King on 20 November, Ms Kennedy said.
The later date would also allow more recovery time for the Archbishop of Sydney, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, who fell ill with Guillain-Barrè syndrome in December.
In the meantime, the Curia urged parishes to organise their own Eucharistic Procession for the feast of Corpus Christi, which will be celebrated on 29 May.
“In the Year of Mercy, this presents a wonderful opportunity for our parishes to engage in the spiritual works of mercy by praying for their local community and awakening our community to the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist,” she said.
“There is a long history of faith and tradition that can be rediscovered and shared with the people of greater Sydney by bringing Eucharistic processions to the streets of Sydney’s suburbs.”
The new initiative was “an opportunity for Sydney’s suburban communities to see that Catholic parishes are alive, united by their belief and open for business”, Ms Kennedy said.
“It can be a simple but potent expression of the New Evangelisation, especially if nominated parish members engage with curious passers-by.”
Smaller parish processions would likely not require the closure of streets, she said.
“A route that uses the footpath brings the Lord into our everyday experience and allows us and our neighbours to encounter Christ right where we are.”
While CREDO would assist parishes in organising their processions, Ms Kennedy said, she urged Catholics to offer their time to help co-ordinate the event.
“Instead of asking Father to organise a procession for your parish, approach your parish priest and offer him your time to help it happen.”
Visit credosydney.org for more information.