By Tony DeGol
Among other things, the recent pandemic has taught us that the Church is more than just four walls.
That reality will be evident in Johnstown on July 10 when a very public display of faith will make its way from Saint John Gualbert Cathedral to the streets of the city.
A special Mass will be celebrated that afternoon at 2:00 p.m. at the historic Cathedral, after which a Eucharistic procession will stretch out the front doors and make its way to nearby Central Park. A reception at the Saint John Gualbert Activity Center will follow the procession, and the usual 5:00 p.m. Sunday evening Mass at the Johnstown Cathedral will not be celebrated that day.
Especially welcome will be the children who recently celebrated their First Holy Communion and their families. The young people are encouraged to wear their First Holy Communion attire. Families of first communicants are asked to RSVP at (814) 536-0117.
“We want to make a public sign of our faith in the Eucharist,” stressed the Very Reverend Matthew Baum, Rector of Saint John Gualbert and Pastor of Saint Patrick Parish in Johnstown. “We will give witness to our faith in the greater community.”
According to Father Baum, the idea was sparked about a year ago by a group of people who gather regularly to pray the Rosary in Central Park.
“It sounded like a wonderful idea, and we certainly have the venue here at Saint John Gualbert and Central Park just a few blocks away,” he stated.
After months of lockdown and more than two years of unease, the timing of this Eucharistic gathering is opportune as society strives to return to some form of normalcy in this COVID-19 world and yearns for the chance to come together in a celebration of faith.
Of course Johnstown has a rich history of public displays of faith. Perhaps most notably are the former Rosary Rally gatherings held years ago at Point Stadium. The tradition continues on a smaller scale to this day with the annual Marian Celebration at Saint Benedict Parish every October.
The upcoming July 10 event comes just weeks after the launch of a three year Eucharistic Revival in the Catholic Church in America. Through this grassroots movement, Bishops of the United States are inviting the faithful to reconnect with the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and to go forth in mission “for the life of the world.”
The power of the Eucharist as the source and summit of the Catholic faith should never be underestimated, Father Baum remarked.
“Jesus Christ, our Savior and our God, comes to earth and is made present to us at every Mass,” he said. “He invites us to come forward and receive Him. By receiving the Eucharist at Mass, Christ lives inside each of us so that we can shine that light of Christ out toward all of the world.”
Through the Eucharist, Father added, God is in front of us as a miracle.
“When we realize that Christ is with us, who can be against us?”
Editor’s Note: The Very Reverend Matthew Baum shares more thoughts about the power of the Eucharist in our lives and the upcoming July 10 Mass and Eucharistic Procession on Proclaim! TV on July 10 at 10:30 a.m. on WATM ABC 23.
[Photo: The exterior of historic Saint John Gualbert Cathedral in Johnstown, the site of a special Mass and Eucharistic procession on July 10.]