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Article: National Eucharistic Pilgrimage Comes To Bridgeport Sunday

By Rose Brennan

Fairfield County Catholic

May 17, 2024

This article originally appeared in the Fairfield County Catholic.

BRIDGEPORT—Some 2,000 years ago, Jesus extended his hand to his disciples as he walked on water, telling them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” And this Pentecost Sunday, a delegation from the Diocese of Bridgeport will await Christ’s arrival—yes, on water—at the Bridgeport Pier. This time, however, he will be present not in his corporeal body, but in the Blessed Sacrament.

Over the next two months, the same Blessed Sacrament will make its way across the country to Indianapolis, where the National Eucharistic Congress will take place in July. The Diocese of Bridgeport is just the second stop along the Pilgrimage’s Seton Route, which will also pass through the dioceses of New York, N.Y.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Metuchen, N.J.; Trenton, N.J.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Baltimore, Md.; Washington; Altoona-Johnstown, Pa.; Greensburg, Pa.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Wheeling-Charleston, W. Va.; Steubenville, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio and Cincinnati, Ohio before arriving in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Ind. on July 8.

The Diocese of Bridgeport’s section of the Pilgrimage’s will take place over four days, from May 19 to 22. The entirety of the Pilgrimage’s first day will occur in the city of Bridgeport, visiting five parishes along the way.

The procession’s first stop will be at the aptly named Blessed Sacrament Parish. A small parish located in Bridgeport’s East End, Blessed Sacrament has a diverse congregation ready to welcome the Eucharist through its doors, especially as the only Catholic parish in the East End.

“We are a Catholic presence in an area that was industry and is now abandoned in many, many ways,” said Father Joseph Karcsinski, Blessed Sacrament’s pastor. “But the bishop has asked us to maintain a Catholic presence in this area in the East End. And we accept that as a mandate. We feel very strongly about ecumenism and being present and active with our, with the other churches in the area. We have to stand shoulder to shoulder because of the institution around us. But we’re very, very conscious of being a Catholic presence here and upholding our faith and our tradition.”

From Blessed Sacrament, the procession will continue to SS. Cyril and Methodius Parish on the East Side of Bridgeport. The parish operates under the auspices of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, a society of apostolic life whose liturgies are exclusively celebrated in Latin.

The parish will welcome the Blessed Sacrament with a Holy Hour that will include the Solemn Vespers of Pentecost. According to Canon Francis Altiere, SS. Cyril and Methodius’ rector, having Solemn Vespers coincides with the importance of Pentecost as a feast day in the Church—as he said, second only to Easter.

“On a normal Sunday afternoon, we just have what’s called ‘recited vespers,’ where the seminarian here and I just recite Vespers without full chant and everything,” Canon Altiere said. “A few times a year, we have what are called ‘choral vespers,’ where the choir comes and they sing the full Gregorian chant, as well as polyphony and things like that. So it will be choral vespers (and)  it’ll highlight more musical treasures than we’d have on a normal Sunday.”

The Blessed Sacrament will then make its way to St. Mary Parish. Here it will remain for two hours for two Holy Hours—one in English, and one in Spanish to celebrate St. Mary’s predominantly Hispanic congregation.

This Spanish language tradition makes St. Mary unique among many of the other Bridgeport parishes, according to its pastor, Father Rolando Torres.

“Even when we have American people or communities, everyone is speaking Spanish,” Father Torres said. “And it has been growing. It’s a very big community that is growing. And I will say that the cultures from different countries from Latin America (are growing). So we identify with that. And it’s been beautiful, because it’s been working in that way with the help of all the groups that we have in the church.”

After these Holy Hours, the Blessed Sacrament will process to St. Michael the Archangel Parish, home to a predominantly Polish community. Here there will be an outdoor Eucharistic station where the Blessed Sacrament will be honored according to Polish Catholic tradition.

From St. Michael, the Blessed Sacrament will travel to its final destination of the day: St. Charles Borromeo Parish. One of the largest parishes in the entire diocese, St. Charles is home to many different Catholic communities—among them Hispanic, Brazilian, Haitian and the Neocatechumenal Way. As such, the diocese anticipates a turnout of thousands for the Holy Hour at St. Charles before a period of overnight Adoration begins at 9:30 pm.

The next day, the Blessed Sacrament will visit two more Bridgeport parishes—St. Augustine Cathedral and St. Margaret Shrine—before it makes its way to seven other towns in the diocese.

For Father Karcsinski, this period of Eucharistic renewal and revival is not just important to his parish as the only Catholic parish in Bridgeport’s East End. It also serves as a powerful example of the faith to his parishioners, many of whom are first-generation Catholic converts.

“It’s very important that we highlight the Eucharist as central to our identity as Catholic Christians,” he said. “The idea of a procession is still unusual to my people. Their families don’t have processions. They don’t have Rosaries. They don’t have novenas. They don’t have that type of a spirituality. They’re rooted in the Word, and the fact that we celebrate our belief jubilantly in a procession is still a little unusual for us.”

To Canon Altiere, participating in this nationwide Eucharistic procession is a way to get back to one of the Catholic Church’s oldest traditions and public displays of faith.

“Eucharistic processions are an important way, first of all, for Catholics to revitalize our own faith, gives us an opportunity to make reparation, especially for sacrileges and negligence towards the Blessed Sacrament,” he said. “But also now living in a world that’s very indifferent or even just ignorant of the faith, a public procession like this is a good opportunity also to share the faith. It’s important for the Catholics of Bridgeport, but whether they know it or not, it’s also very important for the non-Catholics of Bridgeport.”

All are welcome to participate in the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage. For a complete schedule of events, click here.


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