Street procession to end Year of Eucharist in Sydney
Catholics from across Sydney will process through the streets of Sydney on Sunday to mark the end of the Year of the Eucharist, the twelve-month period of reflection called by the late Pope John Paul II.
The procession also marks the conclusion of the Synod on the Eucharist in Rome. A statement from the Archdiocese described it as a "public expression of the appreciation of the Church for the Eucharist".
Starting from St Patrick's Church Hill at 2.30 pm, the procession will travel along Hunter Street and Macquarie Street ending at St Mary's Cathedral (approximately 4.30pm). Hymns and prayers will unite those in pilgrimage, broadcast on FM radio.
The procession will culminate at St Mary's Cathedral with the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Solemn Benediction.
St Patrick's Church Hill was chosen as the starting point because of its historical significance - it was the place where the Blessed Sacrament was left for the faithful of the colony when the priest was deported.
In 1817 a rather zealous and determined Father Jeremiah O'Flynn arrived in Sydney with a mandate from Rome. He was Australia's first Catholic priest, but despite having the Pope's permission to perform his duties and celebrate Mass openly, the British Government forbad him.
"The Catholic Church in Australia began with Catholics gathering around the Blessed Sacrament to pray because there was no priest. Thus prayer before the Blessed Sacrament has been a fundamental aspect of Church life in Australia." said Bishop Julian Porteous, Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney and convenor of the Procession.
"Since medieval times Catholics have seen processions, especially of the Blessed Sacrament, as a means to express their appreciation of the gift of Christ's body given to the Church through the celebration of Mass.
"A procession marks a way of expressing the basic Christian understanding that human life is a pilgrimage, that our life on earth is not complete and that we are in procession to final destiny which is heaven. Pilgrimages to places of particular religious significance capture this deep Christian sense that here on earth we're on pilgrimage."
Previous Eucharistic processions have been held in Sydney in 1928 and 1953. Back in 1928 over 20 000 walked in the procession from Circular Quay to St Mary's Cathedral, with an estimated 500 000 lining the route. It was by far the grandest religious spectacle ever seen in Australia to date.
In 1953, Cardinal Gilroy began the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament at St Patrick's Church Hill, and around 25 000 took part, with an estimated 750 000 onlookers.
Procession through the streets of Sydney marks the end of Year of the Eucharist (Archdiocese of Sydney 4/10/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archdiocese of Sydney: Procession of the Blessed Sacrament - Year of the Eucharist
Eucharistic Procession 2005 program and liturgy (Catholic Weekly 20/10/05)
21 Oct 2005