By Thandiwe Konguavi
Staff Writer

The Catholic faith was brought into the streets of Edmonton in the annual Corpus Christi procession, a public display of faith that had many passersby doing double takes.

Hundreds of Catholics, singing hymns, joined Archbishop Richard Smith on June 18 as he carried the monstrance containing the Holy Eucharist – the Body of Christ – from the altar of St. Joseph’s Basilica through downtown streets and back.

“The music is absolutely amazing, and it’s beautiful to see the faith being brought to the streets and the beauty of our Catholic faith being shown in public,” said Daniel Jodoin, who lives in Grande Prairie. “I just have reverence for the Lord, to God, whether I’m in church or not.”

Archbishop Smith said the procession is about a continual witness to the hope that is in Christ amid a society that eclipses God from all consideration.

“We are traversing a land rendered arid by assisted suicide and euthanasia, by attacks on life in the womb, by homelessness on our streets and hunger in our homes, by acts of terror and by environmental degradation,” Smith said. “We also are making our way through interior deserts fashioned by anxiety, loss of meaning and the absence of hope.”

Passersby may consider the procession extraordinary, and that curiosity is welcomed, Smith said during the Solemn Feast of Corpus Christi Mass before the procession. 

“If we do make of our lives a ‘Eucharistic procession,’ that will also cause some double takes. We will look different and be noticed as different, but that is OK. We want people to know Christ and the transformative power of his love.” 

Corey Kuzik said bystanders asked about the procession as it passed through the area and some of them joined the marchers along the way.

“I thought it was beautiful,” said Kuzik, who walked the procession with his wife and his dog. “Hearing the singing you could tell people in the area were really captivated as well. It’s rare, but I like the active component of going for a walk, singing.”

Marchers stopped at Edmonton General Hospital and Continuing Care Centre and were met by patients outside to watch the procession.

“I wish they could pick us up and take us with them,” said Alice Agnes Martineau, 85, who enjoyed being outside in her wheelchair.  

“It’s nice for the residents,” said Helen Pinto, a spiritual care assistant. “They are bound in her, but to know someone is praying for them and the dying gives them love.”

The Corpus Christi procession stopped at St Joachim Parish, the oldest parish in Edmonton, before returning to the Basilica.

Archbishop Smith said Catholics are called to be a witness to their faith and the annual Eucharistic procession is a public display of that.

“The more we grow in our awareness of the mystery of this awesome gift, the more we realize our responsibility to carry its message of hope to our world, like we do today in the procession.”