10th Walk With Christ Procession Breaks All Records

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
9 Jun 2015

A record crowd of over 6,000 people took to the streets for the 10th Anniversary of the Walk With Christ Procession

More than 6000 men, women and children joined in the Archdiocese of Sydney's 10th annual Walk With Christ Eucharistic Procession to mark the Feast of Corpus Christi on Sunday, 7 June.

"With clear blue skies, bright sunshine and temperatures at a warm 22 degrees, the number of people who turned out broke all previous records since our first Procession back in 2005 and even exceeded last year's Procession when we had a turnout of more than 5500 taking part," says Catherine Kennedy, Director of the Archdiocese of Sydney's Catholic Renewal and Evangelisation Office (CREDO).

Setting up earlier in the day in the forecourt of St Mary's Cathedral, Catherine says there was a constant stream of passersby coming into CREDO's Information tent wanting to know what was happing, and what all the activity was about.

In the early afternoon two mothers with six children aged between four and 10 called in at the tent.

"They told me a couple of the children attended Catholic primary schools and when we told them about the Procession, they seemed keen to participate. So we gave them two of the Books of Life, each one filled with prayer petitions, to carry in the Procession and they gathered the children and headed for Lang Park at Church Hill, which is where we all gathered before the start of the Procession," Catherine says.

Bishop Terry Brady speaks about the link between the Holy Eucharist and charity

Their spontaneity and joy echoed the mood of the entire afternoon.

"It was a really wonderful day and a great way to celebrate our 10th year," says Catherine.

Led by Bishop Terry Brady, Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Sydney, the Walk with Christ Eucharistic Procession left Church Hill at 2.30pm travelling down to George Street, up Hunter Street and along Macquarie Street past Martin Place before turning into College Street and arriving in the forecourt of St Mary's Cathedral at around 3.30pm.

Staff and students from schools across Sydney carried banners as did many of those from the city's many parishes. Also taking part were seminarians from both the Seminary of the Good Shepherd and the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of the Catechumenal Way. Sydney's Capuchin Franciscan Friars of Australia, members of different movements, congregations and religious communities were among the participants. Sydney's Chinese Catholic community was well represented as were members of Eastern Catholic Orthodox Churches, the Tongan and Samoan Catholic communities and many other Catholics from Sydney's different ethnic and cultural communities.

But above all, the participants were ordinary mums and dads with their kids, grandparents, teenagers and everyday people from all walks of life. There were even several families and groups who were visiting Sydney from other states for the long weekend, and decided to take part.

"The Procession has become a much loved tradition and as word of mouth spreads, more and more people want to participate," says Catherine.

In past years Sydney's unpredictable winter weather has proved the only drawback. But despite slightly lower turnouts in the rain and cold, the only year where a Procession had to be cancelled at the last moment was 2013. "There was a ferocious storm and winds were almost gale force so at the eleventh hour it was decided to transfer everything to St Mary's Cathedral," she says.

CREDO evangelisers donned blue shirts and approached onlookers to explain and collect prayer petitions

As the Procession wound its way through the CBD, thousands prayed the rosary and sang hymns.

With the Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP currently meeting with World Youth Day officials in Krakow, Poland, Bishop Brady led the Procession and was accompanied by Deacon Frank Zacka of the Archdiocese of Sydney's Permanent Diaconate who proclaimed the Gospel. Also at the front of the Procession was the newly appointed Master of Ceremonies at St Mary's Cathedral, Fr Emmanuel Seo, a group of seminarians from Sydney's two seminaries together with Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.

"The Walk with Christ achieves three wonderful things each year. The first is the public demonstration of faith and the opportunity for us to express our belief in the real Presence," Catherine says. "The second is the opportunity to pray for the city and the third is the chance to evangelise to onlookers who stop to watch, and want to know more about our faith and what Corpus Christi means."

The 30 marshals who directed the crowds throughout the procession were easily identified by their bright orange T-shirts, while Catherine and her team of evangelisers were dressed in blue.

"We walk the periphery of the Procession and talk to passersby who want to know more about the march and what it means. Many also want to give us their prayer petitions and we received well over 30 of these," she says.

The faithful came from across Sydney for the procession that ended at St Mary's Cathedral

Although the prayers of those taking part have always included prayers for the city and its three-million plus inhabitants, this year marked the second time that the Procession also included the blessings of the NSW Parliament, Sydney Hospital, Martin Place and the Supreme Court of NSW.

The practice began last year after Bishop Peter Comensoli, then Apostolic Administrator for the Archdiocese and now Bishop of Broken Bay, on the spur of the moment, decided to bless each of these important city and government institutions.
"We have now made it part of the Procession," says Catherine.

Once the Procession reached St Mary's Cathedral the 6000-plus participants crowded into the Cathedral's forecourt for Adoration and Proclamation of the Gospel followed by a homily by Bishop Brady who spoke about the link between the Holy Eucharist and charity. He also spoke of how the Eucharist keeps us centred and reminds us what faith is all about, explaining that when he is busy or becomes distracted, it is the Eucharist that brings him back to centre and to Jesus.

"When he finished the homily everyone was enormously moved and in a spontaneous gesture, began clapping," says Catherine. "You don't often hear applause after a homily but people wanted to show their appreciation for the homily and Bishop Brady's words, and also for what had been a wonderful day," says Catherine.