More than 12,500 join Eucharistic Congress procession

More than 12,500 people from around the world took part in the Eucharistic Congress procession yesterday afternoon. Earlier in the day the catechesis was focussed on the subject of priesthood and service in the Church.

Priesthood is not to be undertaken purely as a personal honour, Archbishop Dermot Clifford told pilgrims attending Morning Prayer. In the words of Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Clifford described priesthood as “unique, indispensable and irreplaceable”. He added that “the title of bishop is one not of honour but of function and therefore a bishop should strive to serve rather than rule.” The purpose is the service of the faithful, to enable them to exercise their own special priesthood.

During catechesis in the main RDS arena at 2pm, Archbishop J Michael Miller, Archbishop of Vancouver, Canada, spoke about three points on priesthood, which included the relationship between the priesthood of all the baptized and the ministerial priesthood; the priest as a man of communion called to foster unity and healing; and the role of the priest in serving his brothers and sisters in their participation in the Church’s saving mission.

Later in the afternoon, Mrs Noreen Carroll a parishioner from Foxrock Parish, Dublin delivered a personal testimony about ‘Priesthood and Ministry in the Service of Communion’ in the main RDS arena. Mrs Carroll explained: “The way in which each priest makes Christ present to all of us who seek God is the great mystery of priesthood.”

Sr Conchita McDonnell, President of CORI (Conference of Religious Ireland) also delivered a personal testimony about ‘Consecrated Life – A Life of Communion’. Sr McDonnell told the thousands of pilgrims gathered in the main RDS arena that despite all that has happened in Ireland in recent years it is clear that our witness is not ineffective but rather can have a lasting effect on the lives of people.

“While attending funerals of religious throughout Ireland since the recent reports on child abuse it is striking how much the individual religious is loved and cherished and his/her contribution to the local community referred to in loving concrete terms,” Sr Conchita added.

Cardinal Oscar Andés Rodríguez-Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, was the main celebrant at Mass to celebrate the feast day of St Anthony of Padua. In his Homily focusing on ‘Saint Anthony of Padua and His Eucharistic Devotion’, Cardinal Rodríguez-Maradiaga said: “The Liturgy tells us that the saints fulfill a triple function in the Church: the example of their lives, the help of their intercession and the sharing of their destiny.”

Also concelebrating the Mass were Archbishop J Michael Miller; Archbishop of Vancouver, Bishop John Lee; Taiwan, Bishop Fernando Panico; National Delegate, Brazil, Bishop Anthony Banzi; Tanzania, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, IEC2012 President and Archbishop of Dublin, and Cardinal Sean Brady; Primate of All-Ireland.

The musicians and performers included the Derry Cathedral Choir – conducted by Sister Perpetua McNulty, James Kilbane, Ennis Gospel Choir, Singer Sarah McCourt.

After Mass, more than 12,500 pilgrims, clergy and parishioners gathered at the RDS Simmonscourt Complex and the main arena for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress Procession.

Pilgrims walked around the RDS complex at 7.30pm turning left down Simmonscourt Road, turning right onto Anglesea Road, right again onto Merrion Road, and the route returned to the grounds of the RDS Simmonscourt, a route of approximately 2.5 kilometres.

Individuals, community and parish groups from across the country gathered to walk the procession with colourful banners. These included: Church of Ireland Boys Brigade, Scouts with Colour Party, Guides with Colour Party, Lourdes Pilgrimage Groups, Civil Defence, Parish groups, and Knights of Malta.

Watch live and recorded films of the Congress here:

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