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By Elena Macias

An estimated 1,300 parishioners and clergy joined Bishop Alberto Rojas in the Hemet Vicariate Eucharistic Procession on Nov. 19 at St. Christopher Parish in Moreno Valley.

“To our brothers and sisters who are not from St. Christopher’s and not from Moreno Valley, we welcome you. Our heart is in gratitude for you coming over here and gracing the occasion,” said Father Christopher Navarro, M.S. Parochial Vicar, to the large crowd.

The procession began at 4 pm at the parish and moved east toward Cottonwood Ave, where they stopped for the first prayer station. Then, the procession went south on Crape Myrtle Dr., then west on Sweet Grass Dr., at which point they stopped at the second prayer station. Then they made their way south on Flaming Arrow Dr., west on Bay Ave., then north on Perris Blvd., where they stopped for the third prayer station before returning to the parish.

The sun was setting as the walk progressed around the the parish’s neighborhood. In preparation for the darkness, parishioners of St. Christopher handed out battery-powered candle sticks prior to the start. As the day turned to twilight, people began to turn on their candles. Then as twilight turned to dusk, and the dusk turned into darkness, the procession neared its conclusion, and thousands of candles illuminated the streets near the church.

The refrain, “Oh Blessed, oh Blessed, oh Blessed be our God, the angels are singing and giving grace to God, the angels are singing and giving grace to God…” was sung repeatedly during the entirety of the procession both in English and Spanish.

Estella Montelvo, Maria Franco and Gloria Contreras, three friends and parishioners from St. James the Less Church in Perris, carpooled together to participate in their first-ever Eucharistic Procession.
“I have lived here for 52 years, and I have never done anything like this before,” Franco said. “I am very grateful to be here and be a part of this. I used to live in Moreno Valley when this church was much smaller and I saw a family tonight that I have not seen in a few years, and that was very nice.”

Franco shared that she was initially reluctant to make the trip to St. Christopher because she had trouble driving in the dark. When voicing her concern to her friends, Montelvo quickly responded with a solution.

“I asked her, ‘do you want to go?’ because I will drive us, don’t worry” Montelvo said, not wanting her friend to miss the opportunity to walk with Christ.

The friends all stressed that this was the first time that they had participated in a Eucharistic Procession or anything like it. They were also thankful that the event was held in the Hemet Vicariate, close to their home.

“I’ve never done anything like this, and it was so beautiful,” Montelvo said. “I have heard of this event (Eucharistic Procession) but they never come here. I knew about this one because someone posted about it online and they invited me and I said, ‘it would be my first time, I’ve never been, I need to go.’ It was so beautiful and so emotional, you know, it’s Jesus.”

This marked the fifth Vicariate-level procession to take place during the current Eucharistic Revival. Bishop Rojas has invited all six Vicariates to hold a Eucharistic Procession in recognition of the Revival. The last Eucharistic Procession will be held in the Low Desert Vicariate.

Elena Macias is the Managing Editor of the Inland Catholic BYTE.