Local Parishes

Parishes come together to take Jesus to the streets

Father Viet Nguyen, pastor of St. Bede Parish in Kelly, St. Patrick Parish in Corning and St. Vincent de Paul in Onaga, leads a Corpus Christi procession June 2 in Corning. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIANNA LOVE

by Marc and Julie

CORNING — It’s one of the best evangelization tools.

That’s what Father Viet Nguyen, pastor of St. Bede Parish in Kelly, St. Patrick Parish in Corning and St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Onaga, said of a recent Corpus Christi procession held June 2 in Corning.

“We are called to evangelize,” he said. “People don’t realize that one of the most important parts of Mass is at the end of Mass when it says, ‘Go forth. The Mass has ended.’ And so, we receive the Eucharist. We receive Jesus into our lives — not for ourselves, but now we’re called to go out.

“We adore the Lord whenever he’s in the tabernacle, but here’s a chance for us to actually go out with him, to process with him. One, it expresses our faith in the Eucharist when we do it, but two, it’s to go out with him and see what the Lord can do in our community.”

The Corpus Christi procession begins outside St. Patrick Church in Corning. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIANNA LOVE

Father Nguyen led nearly 200 people from the three parishes in a eucharistic procession around the city park in Corning. Held at 7 p.m., the procession was followed with an ice cream social, offering an opportunity for refreshments and fellowship.

“This is my first year being out here, and I thought, ‘What better way to bring my three parishes together?’ I think that was very important for me,” he said.

Sometimes, Father Nguyen said, Corpus Christi processions are planned six months to a year in advance. For these three parishes, planning started right after Easter.

A line of Catholics process behind the Blessed Sacrament in a eucharistic procession led through Corning by Father Viet Nguyen. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIANNA LOVE

Father Nguyen gathered his Enflame group leaders from the three parishes, including Laurie Niehues from St. Bede, Lindsey Koch from St. Patrick and Marcia Walsh from St. Vincent de Paul. Those three, in turn, helped get their parishioners involved and excited.

Father Nguyen admits to being slightly overwhelmed with the numerous details leading up to the solemnity of Corpus Christi, he said. That is, until he realized something important.

“As it got closer to the day of Corpus Christi, I realized in the end — and this is kind of a reflection on my priesthood — this is not about me. This is not about getting it perfect. This is about Christ. So, I was able to let go — in some ways, surrender all that worry to him.”

Father Viet Nguyen carries the monstrance containing the Eucharist through the streets of Corning. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIANNA LOVE

The results, parishioners and planners alike agreed, was sacred, beautiful and unifying.

“[The procession] was gorgeous,” said Niehues. “It really was.”

Koch agreed.

“It was a way to see Jesus more profoundly in our everyday life,” she added. “So many times, we leave church and we leave him there. By taking him out and processing him around, I think maybe it opens your eyes to the fact that even if he’s not in the monstrance in front of you, he is everywhere. And I think that was really beautiful.”

The beauty of the procession was also not lost on Walsh either, especially given the Eucharistic Revival campaign and the upcoming National Eucharistic Congress to be held July 17-21 in Indianapolis.

“We were really excited that our [procession] kind of correlated to the start of the western [pilgrimage] route from California and used that as an opportunity to further educate our parishioners and make them aware that it was a nationwide effort,” she said. 

Father Viet Nguyen kneels in adoration before the Eucharist. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIANNA LOVE

Father Nguyen said he believes it’s important for younger generations, especially those who just made their first Communion, to understand the Eucharist’s importance. That’s why he invited first communicants and their families to lead the procession.

The children were given baskets of petals taken from 400 roses to scatter in front of the Blessed Sacrament along the route. For the Boswell family from St. Vincent de Paul, the moment meant watching their daughter’s enthusiasm in “grabbing handfuls and handfuls of rose petals” when she was first handed the basket.

Cierra Boswell had to gently remind her daughter Valerie that the route had four stops altogether and she needed to save some for the rest of the procession.

“I like throwing the petals because I felt really special,” said Valerie.

Of the procession itself, Cierra, said, “I think it was really neat how everyone was participating. . . . People were singing from the front all the way to the back.

“For me, it was really, really special. I’m glad I finally got to participate in one.”

About the author

Marc & Julie Anderson

Freelancers Marc and Julie Anderson are long-time contributors to the Leaven. Married in 1996, for several years the high school sweethearts edited The Crown, the former newspaper of Christ the King Parish in Topeka which Julie has attended since its founding in 1977. In 2000, the Leaven offered the couple their first assignment. Since then, the Andersons’ work has also been featured in a variety of other Catholic and prolife media outlets. The couple has received numerous journalism awards from the Knights of Columbus, National Right to Life and the Catholic Press Association including three for their work on “Think It’s Not Happening Near You? Think Again,” a piece about human trafficking. A lifelong Catholic, Julie graduated from Most Pure Heart of Mary Grade School and Hayden Catholic High School in Topeka. Marc was received into the Catholic Church in 1993 at St. Paul Parish – Newman Center at Wichita State University. The two hold degrees from Washburn University in Topeka. Their only son, William James, was stillborn in 1997.

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