Annual Eucharistic Procession in Cork marks 89th year

22 Jun 2014

“The Eucharist and priesthood are co-dependent, we cannot have one without the other. I encourage the faithful to pray for vocations” – Bishop Buckley

· Please see homily of Archbishop Eamon Martin below

The Annual Eucharistic Procession took place in Cork city today. The procession which has taken place for 89 consecutive years commenced in 1926 when a group of business men in the city approached the then Bishop Daniel Coholan, with a view to having an Eucharistic Procession in the city to mark the Feast of Corpus Christi. Commenting on this year’s Eucharistic Procession Bishop John Buckley, Bishop of Cork & Ross said: “Our Eucharistic Processsion was an opportunity for the people of the city to give public witness to their faith. I am delighted with the support and I offer my thanks to the many individuals and Catholic groups who contribute significantly to the life of our city.”

Bishop Buckley had earlier encouraged people to pray for those suffering from the on-going recession. He said that he was particularly mindful of those who are graduating this year and those currently sitting their Leaving Certificate in a time of fewer jobs. Bishop Buckley was also mindful of those who had emigrated from the city and who were now working and living abroad. Bishop Buckley asked that all present would pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. In the context of the Eucharistic Procession, Bishop Buckley said that the Eucharist and priesthood were co-dependent, saying “we cannot have one without the other”. He encouraged all to pray for vocations and to offer any encouragement to those who may be considering a vocation.

Archbishop Eamon Martin, Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh delivered the homily at a specially erected altar at Daunt’s Square. Archbishop Martin said, “It does not matter who we are, or what our station in life is, we are One in the presence of our Lord – woman or man, rich or poor, famous or forgotten.” See full homily below.

His Excellency, Archbishop Charles Brown, the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, who preached at last year’s Procession, was also in attendance and walked in the Procession, accompanied by six of his classmates from seminary. Archbishop Brown and his classmates are celebrating the silver jubilee of their priestly ordination this month. Bishop Buckley said that he appreciated very much Archbishop Brown’s presence and support and offered his congratulations to him on his Silver Jubilee.

This year, as in previous years, the numbers in the procession were greatly enhanced by members of the Asian, African and Eastern European Communities in the city. A particular welcome was afforded by the large crowd in Daunt’s Square to greet the arrival of the Polish and Indian communities, accompanied by their chaplains. Father Piotr Gallus, the Polish Chaplain, led the Rosary from the Altar in Daunt’s Square. Special places were reserved for the sick and those in wheelchairs adjacent to the altar in Daunt’s Square. Bishop Buckley imparted a blessing to the sick and infirm at the altar. This year’s procession was also joined by the Lord Mayor of Cork City, Cllr Mary Shiels, members of the City Council, Public Representatives and representatives of UCC.

Bishop Buckley thanked the members of the City Council and An Garda Síochána for their assistance with this year’s procession. He also thanked the Choir of Our Lady Crowned Church in Mayfield for their singing and Amanda Neri, the Soloist. Bishop Buckley also thanked the Civil Defence, Order of Malta, Red Cross and the other Voluntary Organisations who assisted at the Procession. He thanked the Cork County Board of the GAA and the Munster Council for keeping the day free of Championship Matches in the City.

Bishop Buckley concluded by saying the Procession in Cork was a lay initiative and would continue for as long as the people of Cork want it to.

Homily of Archbishop Eamon Martin

“‘If Jesus came to earth today … He’d be out on the streets, looking after the poor, healing the sick and hanging around with the homeless’” – Archbishop Martin

Be still for the presence of the Lord The Holy One is here
Come bow before Him now With reverence and fear
In Him no sin is found We stand on holy ground
Be still for the presence of the Lord The Holy One is here

Brothers and sisters, People of God in this great and historic city of Cork, what an honour it is for me to be with you today! Thank you, Bishop Buckley, for inviting me. I bring greetings from the orchard county of Armagh, and from the city of Saint Patrick, but also, of course, from my native Derry, the oak county and the city of Saint Colmcille.

“Be still”, as that beautiful hymn puts it, “for the presence of The Lord, the Holy One is here”. Just think about that for a moment: Jesus, our Saviour, is walking among us, really present in the Eucharist. We are standing on Holy Ground.

Be still for the glory of the Lord Is shining all around
He burns with holy fire With splendour He is crowned
How awesome is the sight Our radiant King of Light
Be still for the glory of the Lord Is shining all around.

My dear people, one of the great things about this Corpus Christi procession is that it is gathering us together as One Body. It does not matter who we are, or what our station in life is, we are One in the presence of our Lord – woman or man, rich or poor, famous or forgotten. It doesn’t matter what our qualifications are, where we live or what we do for a living, the important thing is that we stand here as brothers and sisters in communion with Christ and with one another!

And what might Jesus be saying to us right now as we gather in his presence from East and West, North and South? Well – precisely what he said to the Jews in today’s Gospel Reading: “I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world (John 6:51)”

We are together in the presence of the “Living Bread come down from heaven”! But don’t you wonder sometimes: why would Jesus want to walk with us – we, who are sinners, who often do the exact opposite of what he calls us to do or be; we, who can be so wrapped up in ourselves at times, blind to our brothers and sisters in their need; we, who can be so critical and judgemental of others, but slow to recognise our own faults? No wonder we say before receiving the Eucharist: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof!”.

The Gospel reassures us that Jesus wants to be present with us, even though we are sinners – no, it is precisely BECAUSE we are sinners that Jesus reaches out to us, because He wants to show us His mercy and heal us. Jesus sees the good in us despite our sins and unworthiness. He notices the glimmer of faith even in those of us who may have drifted away from Church. Jesus detects the spark of hope in the darkest minds; He kindles the fire of love in the coldest of hearts. The Gospels tell us that He liked to go out of His way to be with the sinful, the lepers and all those who were rejected or considered unclean by society. He preferred to spend His time with the outcasts, the poor, the weak – yes, even the dreaded tax collectors. When the Pharisees asked: “Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus insisted: “I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners”.

“Be still, for the presence of The Lord … is here”, reaching out today to sinners like me and like all of us. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. His Real Presence in the Sacred Host preserves and prolongs his real presence at the sacrifice of the Mass which in turn makes present that moment when he sacrificed himself on the cross for us sinners. “This is my body given up for you. This is my blood poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins”.

Last week I asked a group of teenagers: – if Jesus came to earth today, where might we find Him? Quick as a flash, one16 year-old, said, “Why that’s easy, He’d be out on the streets, looking after the poor, healing the sick, and hanging around with the homeless”. And then her friend added: “- and that is what Pope Francis is asking us to do. He wants us to be out there where Jesus was, on the edges of society among the poor and forgotten”.

Those young people have it right! Pope Francis says: “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security (EG 49)”.

What a challenge that is for us, the People of God! Wouldn’t this Corpus Christi procession be so much more meaningful and powerful if each of us brings home today the love and mercy of Jesus and passes it on to the people we meet this week?

My brothers and sisters: Let the Real Presence of Christ transform you this afternoon! Open yourself up to the power of His holy presence. Allow Jesus to change you and renew you. Allow Jesus to forgive you and heal you. Go home feeling loved and wanted. Leave here knowing that no matter what burden or obstacle you are facing in life, Jesus can ease it and help you cope with it. Let the presence of The Lord shine into your life and accompany you wherever you go.

Imagine if people this week could experience through you the effects of Jesus presence this afternoon? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, when you walk into a room, people sense the presence of The Lord, and smell the fragrance of Jesus?

That’s how Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman put it in a beautiful prayer he wrote called the Fragrance Prayer. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta prayed it every morning after receiving Holy Communion. Let me pray a little of it with you:

“Dear Jesus, help me to spread Your fragrance wherever I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly, that my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me, but only Jesus…”

My dear brothers and sisters, ‘Be still for the power of The Lord is moving in this place ‘. May the power of The Lord continue to move in our lives, to move our hearts with compassion and love, to cleanse and heal us, to transform our lives and, through us, fill the world with the power of the ‘Living Bread come down from heaven’.

Be still for the power of the Lord Is moving in this place
He comes to cleanse and heal To minister His grace
No work too hard for Him In faith receive from Him
Be still for the power of the Lord Is moving in this place.


Notes to Editors

· Archbishop Eamon Martin is Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh
· Groups taking part included the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, various organisations that work with the sick and the poor, the post-primary school teenagers of SHARE. Various spiritual groups also participated such as the Legion of Mary, the Pioneers and a group undertaking Catechism Studies.
· Cork’s Eucharistic Procession in now in its 89th year. It commenced in 1926, when a group of businessmen in the city approached the then Bishop Daniel Coholan with a view to having an Eucharistic Procession in the city to mark the Feast of Corpus Christi. It was hoped that such an event might heal the division and bitterness in society at the time.

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678