Carrying the Eucharist: St. Michael Parish holds procession at sunset

St. Michael the Archangel Parish held a Eucharistic procession and revival last month. It was part of the centenary, or diocese’s 100th anniversary, which has an emphasis on the Eucharist. An estimated 400 people walked near the Eucharist, which was contained in a monstrance, from the church on High House Road to a nearby outdoor amphitheater in Cary’s Bond Park, where adoration and celebration continued. 

NC Catholics magazine recently caught up with Alex Hill, the parish’s director of Music and Liturgy, about the event. “I was just one part of a large team of people who planned and executed this substantial event,” he shared. “Our clergy, staff, pastoral council, and various volunteer teams, including youth ministry, were instrumental.”

NC Catholics: What role did music play in the event?

Alex Hill: Music was an integral part of this Eucharistic Revival event because it is song which often forms us and guides us in prayer. During the procession … I led familiar Eucharistic hymns with refrains in both English ("O Sacrament Most Holy," "I Am the Bread of Life," etc.) and Spanish ("Bendito Sea Dios"). [We used] a microphone and a rolling amplifier, so everyone behind the canopy could hear and participate. These songs were chosen to be easily sung without a book -- in other words, short refrains well known to all … the goal was to intensify our love for Jesus.

Once we arrived at the amphitheater, our St. Michael praise band, One Heart, was ready to take up the music. They had prepared over an hour of contemporary praise music, including songs for exposition and benediction, contemplative worship and praise. Led by Rob Surra and Danielle Meyer, One Heart consists of multiple vocalists, guitarists, drummers and keyboard players. They are an amazingly talented group! They provide music for our weekly Sunday 5 p.m. Mass. They have played for all our Eucharistic Revival Nights, and play a broad selection of contemporary Christian music.

NCC: How did the procession and holy hour enrich your faith life?

AH: This event demonstrated to me that God often blesses us with surprises! We had evaluated the weather all week, and the chance of rain was extremely low for that day. Skies were blue and beautiful when we left the church, but once we had crossed High House Road (with the help of Cary police officers) and entered the park, wind and clouds came up and it rained! It was not a hard rain - more like a gentle, warm shower. Some put up umbrellas, but others (like me) just got soaked. It lasted only about ten minutes, and by the time we turned the corner to enter the amphitheater area the sun came out again with gorgeous effect. Within minutes we were dry again, and the setting sun shone through the surrounding pines upon all of us gathered in prayer.

NCC: What did you hear other people saying after the event? What did you observe about others?

AH: Everyone who attended seemed touched by something different: the unexpected but refreshing rain; the joy of the large crowd; the steady helpfulness of the Cary police; the curious onlookers driving by who must have wondered, "Why would these people walk in the rain behind that golden thing beneath the canopy?"

There was such a spirit of peace, beauty, and oneness in the Lord. There were children of all ages, elderly, and every age in between. We were Anglos, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, clergy and lay faithful, all joined by our shared Catholic faith. Everyone loved the music, but they especially loved seeing the Blessed Sacrament on a makeshift altar and worshiped in a public park, lighted by a spring sunset. Most spoke of the beauty and peacefulness of the event.

NCC: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

AH: Planning an outdoor event is often all about weather, something we can't control. We prayed for no rain; we planned for no rain; we expected no rain. Yet, God showed us that he blesses us even when what we hope for and pray for turns out differently! This, to me, is the message of Christ's death … what seems to be "the worst that can happen" is transformed by God's power and love, and we're blessed beyond our expectations. I think we all sensed that on that evening.

Editor’s Note:

As a part of the 100th anniversary of the Diocese of Raleigh, a centennial monstrance continues to make its way throughout the diocese, hosted by each deanery or geographic area across more than 30,000 square miles.

The goal is to unite the broad geographic areas of the diocese while also reaching as many people as possible to focus on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist during a year that will also see the National Eucharistic Congress in July in Indianapolis.

The Centennial Monstrance is currently in the Cape Fear Deanery. The next deanery adoration hour will be June 27 at Immaculate Conception parish in Wilmington.

St. Michael Parish will host a revival event inside the church August 9.


Photos courtesy of St. Michael Parish.