By ALLISON MAWN, Special to the Bulletin | Published July 5, 2023
BISHOP—On June 11, St. Aelred Catholic Church in Bishop hosted a eucharistic procession. The procession was held on The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, also known as Corpus Christi Sunday.
Stormy weather caused the procession to be held inside the church. However, the church was filled with parishioners of all ages, there to celebrate the Eucharist. Typically, the parish’s yearly Corpus Christi procession goes outside of the church and around the block.
Father Gregory Tipton, pastor of St. Aelred, described the eucharistic procession as an opportunity to strengthen one’s relationship with Jesus and rejoice in his presence. He called it a modern day walk to Emmaus.
“The sort of neat thing about our friendship with God is we can literally take him out for a stroll,” Father Tipton said.
St. Aelred is Oconee County’s newest Catholic Church, becoming so on the Feast of Saints Peter & Paul in 2019. It is part of the non-geographical diocese The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, created by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012. It is the first ordinariate parish in the state of Georgia. A second parish, St. Margaret of Scotland in Flowery Branch, has since been established.
The ordinariate was created with the mission to “help former Anglicans become Roman Catholic, to evangelize and welcome all who wish to be in full communion with Rome, and to share its particular liturgical, pastoral, and spiritual tradition with all Catholics,” according to St. Aelred’s website. The diocese is “a treasure to be shared” for all Catholics, as stated in Anglicanorum Coetibus, the founding document of the ordinariate.
“Anyone whose faith has been reinvigorated by the mission of the ordinariate is welcome to join,” according to Father Tipton.
Bishop Steven Lopes, bishop of the ordinariate, celebrated Mass and led the Corpus Christi procession. The ordinariate is based in Houston, Texas, and serves Catholics across the United States and Canada.
Catholics can attend St. Aelred even if they are not part of the ordinariate since it is part of the universal church. Any Catholic is welcome to attend Mass.
Ordinariate parishes celebrate Mass according to the liturgical book Divine Worship: The Missal. Most Catholics are more familiar with the mass according to The Roman Missal: 3rd Edition. Another aspect of Ordinariate parishes that may be foreign to many Catholics is that some priests are married and have children. Former Anglican clergy who are already married may become Catholic priests on a case-by-case basis. However, new vocations, seminarians and priests are expected to conform to the normal vow of celibacy expected in the Latin Rite.
“There’s a great diversity in the Catholic Church, lots and lots of ways of being Catholic,” Father Tipton said.
St. Aelred’s eucharistic procession, and others celebrated throughout the archdiocese, come amid a nationwide effort toward eucharistic revival sparked by a 2019 Pew Research Center finding that 69% of American Catholics believe the Eucharist is symbolic, rather than Christ’s Body and Blood, as the church teaches. Pew also found that most respondents who did not believe in transubstantiation, or bread and wine becoming body and blood during the consecration, actually did not know what the church teaches on the subject.
“Revival is, in effect, an attempt to get people back to the source and summit of a Christian life, which is the Blessed Sacrament,” Father Tipton said.
The procession is a way to bridge the spiritual and the literal, Father Tipton said, as well a way to visually proclaim one’s relationship with Christ.
Another aspect of Eucharistic revival is emphasizing the sacraments, especially reconciliation. As Father Tipton explained it, in any relationship, you apologize when you do wrong, and one’s relationship with God should be no different.
The revival started in the church’s hierarchy but is now in the hands of individual parishes. Eucharistic procession, adoration and education are some ways Catholics can embrace the process. The 10th National Eucharistic Congress will be next July in Indianapolis, the first in 83 years. But the goal, as well as the basis, of it all is individual faith in the Lord.
“If there is any reviving of our faith to be done, the Lord himself will do it,” Bishop Lopes said during his Corpus Christi homily.