June 17, 2005

Despite downpour, high spirits reign
at Year of the Eucharist event

By Sean Gallagher

After the rainy remains of tropical storm Arlene invaded Indiana on Sunday morning, “The Year of the Eucharist: Celebrating the Body of Christ” was moved from its original outdoor location at Victory Field in Indianapolis to the nearby St. John the Evangelist Church. (See related column)

Nevertheless, the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament shown by the approximately 1,000 Catholics who packed the historic downtown church scattered any dark clouds of disappointment about the change of plans.

“Maybe God figured we needed the rain more than he needed us to process to Victory Field today,” Arch-bishop Daniel M. Buechlein said in his sermon during the service.

It began with a combination of Scripture readings, sung responses, choral meditations and prayers of intercessions. In addition to his sermon, Archbishop Buechlein also delivered a prayer of commissioning for those involved in Disciples in Mission over the past five years.

Standing in the church whose parish dates back to 1837, Archbishop Buechlein reflected on the historic roots of the faith in central and southern Indiana, giving special attention to the first bishop of Vincennes, Simon Bruté, and Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin, the founder of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

“These holy pioneers had a profound devotion to the Blessed Sacrament,” he said. “And both were literally disciples in mission.”

In concluding his sermon, Archbishop Buechlein called his listeners to follow the example of those two and pray in thanksgiving for the gift of the Eucharist.

“Sisters and brothers, our humble beginnings are a striking reminder that God’s grace provides for our needs,” he said. “Today we are pointed to the treasure of the same Eucharist and the same shared mission that comes to us through the ages.

“Let us pray gratefully with generous hearts this afternoon. Let’s pray in homage to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament with the humble spirit of Bishop Simon Bruté and Blessed Mother Theodore. Surely they join us in our mission still. But, sisters and brothers, there is another greater than these in our midst. It is Jesus the Lord.”

Shortly after finishing his sermon, Archbishop Buechlein blessed those in attendance with the Blessed Sacrament held in a monstrance.

He then brought the service to a close by processing with the Blessed Sacrament throughout the church. Joining him in the procession were dozens of priests, many boys and girls who have celebrated their first Communion this year and members of several Catholic fraternal organizations.

After the event, Msgr. Joseph F. Schaedel, vicar general of the archdiocese, commented on the change in plans brought about by the day’s stormy weather.

“I was very pleased with what we call ‘Plan B,’ ” he said. “We had standing room only in the church and a very prayer-filled crowd. And I thought the music and the liturgy as it was laid out went very well. It was as good as it could be. We’re disappointed that we weren’t able to be at Victory Field, but I guess that’s not what the Lord wanted.”

Moving the event to St. John meant some aspects of “The Year of the Eucharist: Celebrating the Body of Christ’ did not take place as scheduled. These included a ministry fair, witnesses on the Eucharist, and music before and after the event by Grace on Demand, a band of youth and young adult parishioners, largely from Mary Queen of Peace Parish in Danville.

Despite the change in location and a scaled-back service, several who braved the elements and came to St. John spoke in appreciation of it afterward.

Janis Dopp, the administrator of religious education at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bloomington, thought that the service was an evangelizing moment for the archdiocese, regardless of the fact that it happened in a less public place than the streets of Indianapolis and at Victory Field.

“I think that the world knows when we’re happy about who we are and when we’re proud of the Eucharist,” said Dopp, who is also a member of the archdiocesan Evangelization Commission. “I think it shows on our faces when we leave the church.”

Daniel Padilla, a member of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus, recently celebrated his first Communion and values the sacrament so much that he has since kept count of each time he has received it.

“Whenever I eat it, my heart just somehow beats really hard,” he said.

Daniel liked participating in the eucharistic procession.

“I’ve never done anything like this before, walking with the bishop,” he said. “It was really special to me.”

Daniel’s mother, Lourdes, said she appreciated the service and the opportunity her son had to participate in it.

“It makes me want for him to continue to be an active member of the Church in living its sacramental life,” she said. “And being surrounded by all the priests and the archbishop—they’re just such good role models for him to follow.”

Many seminarians also had roles to play in “The Year of the Eucharist: Celebrating the Body of Christ,” including Holy Trinity in Edinburgh parishioner Rick Nagel, who recently completed his second year of formation at Saint Meinrad School of Theology in St. Meinrad.

“It was such an honor to be here today, to serve in this way,” he said. “I had to kind of catch my breath a couple of times because it was just so awe-inspiring. The Holy Spirit was obviously moving among people. And to see all the little kids, especially, was inspiring.”

Eileen Johantges, a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Indianapolis, accompanied her daughter, Katherine, who celebrated her first Communion earlier this year.

“It was like first Communion, only more special because everybody from the archdiocese was here,” she said. “I think seeing all the other children from all the other parishes, and the families we were sitting with were families we didn’t know, made it special.”

Like the archbishop in his sermon, Johantges also turned her mind to the past, recalling her frequent visits years ago when studying at IUPUI to St. John to pray for a good job and a good husband and children.

Coming to the service on Sunday, she prayed in gratitude for the fulfillment of her prayers of so long ago, prayers that she said were answered through the Eucharist.

“I think the grace given to us through the Blessed Sacrament enables us to receive all the gifts we receive,” Johantges said. “It’s so true.”

History and the Eucharist were also on the mind of Patricia Beaupre, a member of St. Lawrence Parish in Indianapolis, whose granddaughter, Joanna Kerney, is a recent first communicant and participated in the day’s eucharistic procession. Forty-five years and one day earlier, she and her husband were married at St. John Church.

Although coming together to pray before the Blessed Sacrament in the church of the oldest parish in Indianapolis brought the history of the faithful of the archdiocese to many people’s minds, at least one other person looked to the future.

In fact, Benedictine Sister Mary Cecile Deken, pastoral associate and administrator of religious education at St. Lawrence Parish in Lawrenceburg, thought of the end of history when considering “The Year of the Eucharist: Celebrating the Body of Christ.”

“It was wonderful, wonderful,” she said. “It inspired me. It gave me a little feeling of what judgment day is going to be like, when everybody is there.” †


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