Priests, nuns, and laity participated in a massive Eucharistic Procession on the streets of New York City on Oct. 10, 2023.
Approximately 5,000 Catholics attended the procession hosted by the Napa Institute for this year's Principled Entrepreneurship Conference.
Father Mike Schmitz, the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Diocese of Duluth, opened the conference with a standing-room-only Mass at Saint Patrick's Cathedral at 4:30 p.m. ET, followed by the Eucharistic procession and Benediction.
In his homily, Father Mike said he initially did not want to lead a Eucharistic procession. His students at the University of Minnesota Duluth often ask if they can process with the Eucharist on campus, but he also says no.
He fears the general public will not understand the Eucharist or know how to react when the procession passes by.
"When I think of a Eucharistic procession, like no, I want them to know this is Jesus. I want them to understand. No, this is the love of God for you in the flesh," Father Mike explained. "This is the love of God who loves you to the point where even if you are his enemy, He's poured out his life for you. In fact, that's what scripture says."
He said as Catholics who believe, we will notice Jesus in the Eucharist. However, he encourages the faithful to help the world understand Jesus' Eucharistic Presence.
"What God has asked us to do tonight is what he asked Jonah to do," Father Mike said, referencing the Oct. 10 daily Mass readings. "'Go out there and take me [the Eucharist] with you.
"Go out there to a world that doesn't notice me [Jesus]– that doesn't understand me [Jesus]--That doesn't accept me. Go out there and just take me [the Eucharist] with you."
Father Mike then explained why he wants Jesus to "come in power and glory."
"We will all know in that moment when God comes fully revealed and fully present. Everyone will notice. No one will miss him and no one will misunderstand His love," he said. "We will have either chosen to be his friends or we will have chosen to be his enemies."
He then concluded his homily saying the procession was an "incredible opportunity" to be Jonah and Simon of Cyrene.
"Let this procession be your choice to say, 'God, I want you to recognize me in Your Glory, so I'm going to cling to You.'"
Listen to Father Mike's full homily below:
Following Mass, Father Mike led Benediction and the Eucharistic procession began from Saint Patrick's Cathedral.
New York Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen held the Eucharistic monstrance while priests, religious, and laity followed.
Several priests and religious orders attended, including the Sisters for Life, the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, Dominican sisters, and clergy from both the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
Napa Institute representative Grady Connolly told ChurchPOP that attendees said the Eucharistic procession "was one of the most moving experiences of their faith thus far. Many were moved to tears as we processed through Times Square during rush hour with a police escort."