Students across Sydney Catholic Schools will gain fresh insights into the significance of the Feast of Corpus Christi, its history and ongoing importance through a new documentary produced by the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation.
The short documentary features insights from Auxiliary Bishop Richard Umbers and Australian Catholic University Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Hayden Ramsay, and has been released in the lead up to the feast day on Sunday 11 June when thousands of Catholics are expected to participate in the annual Walk With Christ procession through Sydney’s central business district.
While we are accustomed as Catholics to marking the great Christian celebrations of Christmas and Easter with the fanfare they deserve, the new documentary specifically celebrates the Feast of Corpus Christi, as the day when Christ reminds us as Catholics that He will be with us till the end of time through His real presence in the Holy Eucharist.
Professor Ramsay has told The Catholic Weekly, the Feast of Corpus Christi is celebrated more publicly in many European countries, but he believes there is a real need to raise greater awareness about the feast amongst Australian Catholics.
“In some European countries, the feast of Corpus Christi is still marked by a public holiday and a very public procession with an outdoors Benediction and certainly in some Mediterranean countries, there’s no embarrassment and indeed there’s a certain familiarity almost around the Eucharistic host being exposed in the streets on this great feast day,” Professor Ramsay said.
The short documentary, which is less than 15 minutes long, traces the remarkable story behind the Feast of Corpus Christi, dating back to 13th century Italy when a German priest, Peter of Prague, discovered blood seeping from the consecrated Host whilst celebrating Mass.
At a time when Australian society is becoming increasingly secular, as reflected in recent Census data, Professor Ramsay said large-scale public religious processions like the Walk With Christ play a key role in lifting the spirit of believers around their shared faith.
“It gives a bit of heart to people that you can take the Christian faith and you can take Christ Himself out into the public world, as Lord of the Streets, in the streets he belongs in, to the streets he came to redeem”, he said.
“In doing so, we try to say for us as Catholics, he is really here. This is not just a symbol of him, this is not just a hope that he will come. He has actually come and he is actually here amongst us”.
Last year’s Walk With Christ brought together over 13,000 people and Auxiliary Bishop Richard Umbers said similar large numbers are anticipated again this year.
“It is always a great joy to be united in Christ. We’re here for Jesus and that always resonates,” he said.