Catholic Fathers Take a Walk With Christ in the Eucharist

A new movement is encouraging processions of the Blessed Sacrament to strengthen dads and families.

The Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, led the Eucharistic procession on Corpus Christi Sunday, June 6, through the streets of downtown Phoenix. The Eucharistic procession, in combination with the recent release of Bishop Olmsted’s apostolic exhortation ‘Veneremur Cernui,’ continues the celebration of the Year of St. Joseph.
The Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, led the Eucharistic procession on Corpus Christi Sunday, June 6, through the streets of downtown Phoenix. The Eucharistic procession, in combination with the recent release of Bishop Olmsted’s apostolic exhortation ‘Veneremur Cernui,’ continues the celebration of the Year of St. Joseph. (photo: Billy Hardiman/Courtesy of the Diocese of Phoenix)

Dads processing behind the Eucharist on Father’s Day.

A new movement is encouraging such processions.

“In this year of celebration of St. Joseph, we find the perfect time to inspire men to their noble call of being Catholic fathers,” explained Kevin O’Brien, executive director of Men of Christ. He is one of six co-founders of a new movement established by a large network of Catholic laymen from around the country to remake Father’s Day into Catholic Father’s Day (CatholicFathersDay.com).

The movement is meant to inspire Catholic men by holding annual Eucharistic processions on Father’s Day for Catholic families. 

According to its goals, this movement aims to “gather Catholic fathers and their families together once a year in June to renew their commitment to the heroic call to be Catholic fathers and to give glory to God the Father, to proclaim their commitment to Jesus Christ through Eucharistic processions, to draw down the Holy Spirit to strengthen men in faith and to seek the intercession of St. Joseph, the patron saint of the Church, fathers and families.”

As founder of the New Emangelization Project (NewEmangelization.com) and co-founder of CatholicManNight.com, Matthew James Christoff says fathers should have a Eucharistic focus. “Being a spiritual protector and provider is essential for Catholic men to recognize.” 

He added, “We’re going to use the tradition of a Eucharistic procession as the starting point. The great beauty of the Eucharist is that men are transformed by it even in not recognizing all that can happen in their soul.”

O’Brien notes how on one hand, “in general, fatherhood has been under attack and marred, and we want to bring true fatherhood back. On the other hand, we know how powerful Eucharistic processions are and can be.” We should not forget “the same Christ that walked 2,000 years ago is walking now. We want to take him into the streets and bring the light of Christ into the darkness. People are hungering for that now.”

These processions will also include men consecrating themselves and their families to St. Joseph. O’Brien emphasized: “This spiritual work will bring much healing to our people.”

 

Major Responses

Positive support is coming from all quarters.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, in his role as chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, has informed all the bishops in the United States about Catholic Father’s Day in case they want to participate in this exciting initiative.

In his memo to his brother bishops, he calls it “a national movement that could be a wonderful way to celebrate the Year of St. Joseph and highlight the vocation of Catholic fatherhood. … One of the potential fruits of the Year of St. Joseph could be a strengthening of Catholic fatherhood, which in turn would lead to a strengthening of Catholic family life.” He reminded them, “It is well known that failures in the area of fatherhood have dramatic effects on the whole family, especially in the faith life of the children.”

“Catholic Father’s Day is a wonderful way to celebrate the Year of St. Joseph,” Bishop Cozzens told the Register. “St. Joseph helps us to hold up the important vocation of Catholic fathers, which are so central to Catholic family life. All the studies show that when a father joins with the mother of a family in leading their family in faith it exponentially increases the chances that children will practice the faith when they grow up. Catholic fathers have an essential role to play in helping strengthen their families in faith, and we want more Catholic fathers to seek to imitate St. Joseph in the way they serve their families and witness to the faith. It would be wonderful especially if fathers would bring their sons to join a Eucharistic procession for Catholic Father’s Day.”

His archdiocese will hold this celebration beginning with Mass of anticipation on the Saturday evening before Father’s Day, June 19.

Elsewhere, men from several states, including Texas, California, Michigan and Indiana, have organized Catholic Father’s Day Eucharistic processions.

In Waco, Texas, Robert Tunmire, president of Central Texas Fellowship of Catholic Men and another co-founder of this Catholic Father’s Day movement, reports that at least four Catholic Father’s Day Eucharistic processions will take place in the Austin Diocese. Since the diocese is so expansive —125 miles south to north, 100 miles east to west — Tunmire has encouraged men to organize the processions in the different diocesan deaneries.

Tunmire, who is also president and executive director of Catholic Men’s Leadership Alliance (CatholicMenLeaders.org) explained this Catholic Father’s Day Eucharistic procession’s purpose is clear-cut. “We operate a very simple premise — strengthen the man, strengthen the family; strength the family, strengthen the Church; strengthen the Church, fix the culture.”

 

Midwestern Men

The event manager for Catholic Father’s Day in Detroit, Darren O’Brien, brother of Kevin O’Brien, is working to have these processions multiply across Michigan. He explained, “God wants us to manifest his power within the family, and that power is being drawn out by fathers taking the initiative and leading their family in a very visible way, not only in households, but in challenges we’re experiencing as a culture and society.”

Darren finds the processions so essential at this time “because [as a culture] we haven’t brought Christ into our family life, our daily experience and government.”

The Detroit procession will conclude at the archdiocesan St. Joseph Shrine.

In the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Joseph Kmiec reports that the local Catholic Father’s Day procession will take place in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where successful Eucharistic processions were held in 2020 for unity and peace after rioting and unrest. Approximately 1,200 people took part in those events.

“We’re hoping that we get at least 1,500-2,000 for this procession, with lots more children and families joining us. With the Catholic Father’s Day theme, it’s very much a family-oriented event,” said Kmiec, the event’s co-chair with Alan Padlock. “Our intention is to honor fathers and encourage them to protect and provide for their families as well as lead them in morals and faith.”

Since Kenosha is near the state’s border with Illinois, he is inviting people from the Land of Lincoln to join this procession.

Kmiec points out an important addition. The long route will also go “into Civic Park, where we will pause for a Rosary,” he said. Auxiliary Bishop James Schuerman of Milwaukee will lead the procession, then after it “lead us in prayer, including prayer of consecration to St. Joseph.” Everyone will be invited to go back to the park for a picnic lunch and enjoy time with their dads.

 

Phoenix Rising

In Arizona, the Diocese of Phoenix scheduled its Catholic Father’s Day Eucharistic procession on June 6, Corpus Christi (the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ) Sunday, with a 3-mile procession following adoration at 6am at the diocesan center, which is in the heart of the city, then proceeding along downtown streets, past several churches, the State Capitol, police headquarters, and even near a tent city.

“Our intention is to, above all, show great attention and reverence and adoration of Christ in the midst of the secular city with a great sense of reverence on our part,” Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix told the Register ahead of the procession. The participants stopped to pray at the special places “where we ask our Lord Jesus to bring his healing presence and giving constant adoration and praise to Christ and asking him to be a blessing for the people along the way.”

Phoenix Corpus Christi 2021 2
Top photo, holding the monstrance is Father Ian Wintering. He was ordained to the priesthood just a day before the procession, on June 5. Bottom photo, Bishop Olmsted carries Christ through the streets of Phoenix June 6. Photos: Billy Hardiman/Courtesy of the Diocese of Phoenix


Catholic Father’s Day comes at a critical time in our world. “We have a real need to support fatherhood and lift up the vocation of priesthood and spiritual fatherhood on the part of priests and bishops,” Bishop Olmsted said prior to the procession. “As we honor our fathers, we look to Christ as the one who is the source we need to be good fathers. I’m especially inviting fathers to bring their families to join us in this procession.”

“We really have a great need to honor our fathers,” Bishop Olmsted added. His hope is that an event like this ultimately looks to the one who is our loving Father. “The first mission of a father, and a mother, is to help their children come to love and trust and surrender to God our Father. … Their first role is to bring people to see God as our loving Father. Then we learn to surrender and trust and surrender to him and believe he has made us his beloved sons and daughters. … The whole purpose is to bring them to God Our Father.” 

Bishop Olmsted finds another great benefit in planning Eucharistic processions for Catholic Father’s Day. He explained, “There is something about adoration, whether in a church or chapel or done in a public setting, that really shows us what really matters most in our lives is to center our lives on Christ, and he’s most present with us in the Eucharist. … It’s really the greatest treasure of our Church.”

At the same time, these Eucharistic processions show “that faith has a place in the public square and that faith is really linked with God our Father, our Maker, our Creator.”

 

Manly Battle

Catholic Father’s Day processions will be an annual event, with O’Brien hoping to get between 30-50 dioceses involved this year, with tens of thousands of participants. “Have hope in the Lord,” he encouraged. “God does not lose battles. The bigger the battle, the more graces he will give us.”

O’Brien added, “We know how powerful Eucharistic processions are and can be.” We should not forget “the same Christ that walked 2,000 years ago is walking now. We want to take him into the streets and bring the light of Christ into the darkness. People are hungering for that now.”

 

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