Eucharistic procession makes faith visible in the nation’s capital

4 mins read
Eucharistic procession nation's capital
Katie Yoder photo

Passersby halted and cars slowed to a crawl as they took in the scene Saturday morning: Hundreds of Catholics processed through the streets of Washington, D.C., following a priest carrying a consecrated host — Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity present under the appearance of bread — beneath a canopy.

A diverse crowd of men and women, old and young, individuals and families, religious and laity braved the rain with ponchos and umbrellas. Police and volunteers in bright yellow vests guided the crowd that wrapped around the block. They all had one thing in common: love for the Eucharist and a desire to share it with others.

Courtesy photos

The event marked the second annual Eucharistic procession organized by the Catholic Information Center (CIC) in Washington, D.C. The center, a self-described “Catholic intellectual hub” dedicated to serving professionals in and around the city, includes a chapel and bookstore. It also houses the closest tabernacle to the White House.

The CIC counted 800 people in attendance.

“We are followers of Christ,” Father Charles Trullols, an Opus Dei priest and director of the CIC, said during Mass ahead of the procession. “We follow him when it shines and when it rains. In good times and in bad times. When things are easy and when things are difficult.”

“We follow Jesus,” he added. “And this is what we are going to show today to the city of Washington and to the whole country.”

The procession comes ahead of the 10th National Eucharistic Congress taking place July 17-21 in Indianapolis. The event marks the culmination of the National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year initiative by the U.S. Catholic bishops that seeks to renew the Catholic Church by enkindling a living relationship with Jesus Christ in the holy Eucharist.

Harrington family.

At the procession in the nation’s capital, 20-year-old Diana Harrington from Bethesda, Maryland, spoke with Our Sunday Visitor about the importance of the Eucharist and Eucharistic adoration. She came with her mother and two sisters.

“When we were in the car, we were kind of talking about, ‘Oh well, why go to Eucharistic adoration when you can be with God in prayer?'” she said. They came up with an analogy: “When you pray, it’s like you’re calling your friend on the phone. But then, when we get to do something like this, it’s like going on a walk with your best friend.”

A crossbearer and candle bearers led the procession, followed by religious sisters. Children who received their First Communion this year threw red and white rose petals, carpeting the ground ahead of the Blessed Sacrament, the choir and the crowd. As they walked past Farragut Square, Lafayette Square (by the White House) and McPherson Square, the faithful recited prayers and sang hymns, pausing at three altar prayer stations.

At the stations, many knelt before the Blessed Sacrament on donated kneeler cushions. Others, directly on the wet concrete sidewalks and roads. At the second stop, located by the Department of Veterans Affairs, they prayed for those who serve and have served in the military.

Making a public impression

Father Trullols shared with Our Sunday Visitor how he hopes this year’s Eucharistic procession impacts everyone, from the faithful participating to passers-by on the street.

“I hope it makes a deep impression in the souls and minds of all those attending and witnessing the procession by the beauty of the event and the way we pray,” he said. “The reverence we show for the Eucharist as we walk, the exquisiteness in display through the liturgy, the sacred ornaments, the flowers, the candles, the harmony of the music and choir will be an impactful expression of our faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.”

He added: “And hopefully it will move people closer to God.”

Father Trullols spoke ahead of the D.C. procession, on May 17, a date that marked the start of the cross-country National Eucharistic Pilgrimage leading up to the National Eucharistic Congress.

“In communion with them, many graces will flow through the U.S. and in our nation’s capital during the Catholic Information Center’s procession,” he said.

Rejuvenating faith

Don Giolzetti, a recent convert to Catholicism who lives and works in D.C., revealed what brought him to the procession on Saturday.

“I think, honestly, it probably wasn’t by my own doing,” 35-year-old Giolzetti told Our Sunday Visitor. “For many people who attended, I think it’s really a reaction to the Holy Spirit.”

Thomas Fitzsimmons, 27, from Arlington, Virginia, was an altar server in the procession. He called the experience humbling.

“The Eucharist is everything,” he said, “but primarily today, salvation.”

Diana Harrington’s mother, Kathryn, said that she came to help rejuvenate her daughters’ faith.

“I believe it’s my duty to bring my daughters to heaven,” Kathryn, 52, said. She recognized the Eucharist as “the presence of Christ, Jesus alive here among us.”

Her 15-year-old daughter, Grace, called the procession — with hundreds of Catholics gathered together in one location — a “special moment.” Another daughter, Charlotte, 24, added of the experience: “It makes you feel like you’re part of a community and a part of something bigger than yourself — and it helps to remind you why being Catholic is so important.”

Embracing tradition

Last year, 700 people participated in the first Eucharistic procession held on May 20, 2023.

Father Trullols shared what inspired him to begin an annual Eucharistic procession in D.C.: Attending Pope John Paul II’s Corpus Christi procession in Rome as a seminarian.

“He was the pope who took it out of St. Peter’s Square and back to the streets of the capital of Christianity,” he told Our Sunday Visitor.

St. John Paul II was not afraid to show his trust in God’s power when the society and the world faced apparent insurmountable difficulties nationally and internationally,” he said. “He made recourse to the only One who could unleash the grace and power necessary to dismantle evil and bring peace and harmony to our times.”

He called the CIC’s procession relevant today.

“[M]any people in our country feel very perplexed and disoriented from a religious and moral standpoint,” he shared. “Moreover, there are many misleading moral statements and pronouncements from individuals in positions of influence and leadership that only add to the confusion.”

“The public display of our firm belief in the Eucharist as being Jesus himself — not a symbol — and in the perennial truths taught by the Catholic Church is going to be like an anchor in the tumultuous waves of our times,” he concluded. “It will bring light and hope in Washington, D.C., and to our nation.” 

Katie Yoder

Katie Yoder is a contributing editor for Our Sunday Visitor.