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Day 7: Pilgrimage through Yonkers and the Bronx

BRONX, NY, May 24, 2024 — On the seventh day of their National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, the Seton Route pilgrims began with Mass at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, celebrated by Bishop James Massa, rector of the seminary and auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn. He preached on the gift of the Holy Eucharistic and the nature of the pilgrimage Christ asks of us.

After Mass, Seton Route chaplain Fr. Roger Landry processed with the Blessed Sacrament out of the chapel onto the beautiful seminary grounds and then with a large group of pilgrims processed next to the Church of St. John the Baptist in Yonkers. There, the pilgrims began a series of Eucharistic Stations using a booklet prepared by Fr. Matthew Ernest of St. Joseph's Seminary and Director of Liturgy for the Archdiocese of New York.

After reading from a Gospel passage and a prayer composed by Fr. Ernest, Fr. Landry gave meditations on what we can learn about the Holy Eucharist from the patron of that particular parish.

At St. John the Baptist, Fr. Landry preached about St. John's words, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world."

He focused, first, on the word "Behold," and how God wanted to become visible though the incarnation of Jesus in the womb of Mary as well as in the continual incarnation of the Holy Eucharist.

The second phrase was "Lamb of God," which shows that Jesus came ultimately to be able to fulfill the ancient Passover rite and, by being slain, lead us from death to life. John the Baptist summons us, Fr. Landry said, to enter into Jesus' saving sacrifice.

The third word was "who takes away the sins of the world" and therefore St. John the Baptist teaches that we're sinners in need of a Savior, and, hence, we need that Eucharistic Savior not just to save us once and for all from our sins on Calvary, but each day. Therefore, there's an intrinsic connection between the Eucharist and Divine Mercy, Fr. Landry concluded.

After Benediction, a large group of pilgrims followed to St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Yonkers, where pastor, Fr. Leonard Villa, welcomed pilgrims. Fr. Landry read a Gospel passage and prayer and then gave a brief meditation on three lessons we can learn from the "doctor of the Gentiles."

The first lesson is about passing on our faith in the Eucharist. In 1 Cor 11:23-26, St. Paul described what Jesus did on Holy Thursday to pass on our faith, "remembering" or "actualizing" this gift at the altar.

The second lesson is about what Jesus wants to do in us through our reception of him in Holy Communion, to help us identify with him so that we will be able to say like St. Paul, "It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me."

The third lesson is about passing on our Eucharistic faith with zeal. We don't announce the Gospel only as the "words of God" but as the "Word made flesh," Jesus himself in the Holy Eucharist, just as St. Paul did. For St. Paul to proclaim Christ crucified is not just a message but a means and we enter into the death and resurrection of Christ in the Mass.

After Benediction, an ever growing group of pilgrims continued to the Bronx, where they were met by several units of the New York Police Department who accompanied the pilgrims the rest of the way, stopping traffic at intersections so that pilgrims could process peacefully. They were likewise joined by about 100 pilgrims, led by Fr. Vincent Druding, joyfully singing as they accompanied Jesus through the northern Bronx.

The next stop was St. Patrick's Rehabilitation Center, where residents, mostly in wheelchairs, were waiting in the chapel. After a brief period of quiet adoration, Fr. Landry spoke about the Eucharistic Pilgrimage and how all Catholics in the United States are asked to participate, a few on foot, and everyone spiritually through their prayers. He thanked the residents in advance for all of their prayers for the pilgrims and especially for the way they would unite whatever sufferings they need to endure to the intentions of the Eucharistic Revival.

He also mentioned that their pilgrimage began with a Vigil Mass of the Holy Spirit at St. Mary's in New Haven and how Archbishop Christopher Coyne finished his homily citing St. Patrick's famous prayer called the Breastplate or Lorica, which he said is a good way of living a Eucharistic Life: "Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me."

After Benediction, a huge throng of pilgrims then processed to St. Philip Neri Parish in the Bronx, where adoration took place for 75 minutes. Fr. Landry read another Gospel passage, and offered prayer and meditation on three lessons we can all learn from St. Philip Neri, the 16th century reevangelizer of Rome. The first lesson is about awe for the Mass, an awe that routinely made St. Philip go into ecstasy and even levitate. The second is about beauty, and the Oratorians he founded have always taken liturgical beauty particularly seriously. The third is about joy and how St. Philip won many for Christ by the infectious joy he received from the Eucharistic Jesus, the joy Christ came into the world, to give us and bring to completion.

After the pastor of St. Philip Neri parish, Fr. Dan O'Reilly, imparted Benediction, Fr. Stephen Rooney and about 100 pilgrims processed to Christ the King parish, walking through busy sidewalk markets and many other groups of people, some of whom immediately stopped what they were doing to bless themselves as the Jesus passed.

A packed Church of Christ the King awaited, where Spanish songs were sung at high volume. Fr. Landry shared a Gospel passage, prayer and a brief meditation on Christ the King reigning for us in the Eucharist. He said Jesus teaches us the virtue of humility, concealing his divine lordship not just in Bethlehem but even more so on the altar. He cited Pope Benedict XVI's words about how the Kingdom of God means that God truly reigns in one's life and that's what we proclaim when we say, "Viva Christo Rey" -- we are praying that we want him to reign in our life. The third lesson he teaches us is about courage. Because Christ is King of the Universe, we can be like the Mexican martyrs and joyfully and confident go even to our martyrdoms knowing that Christ reigns even over death.

After Benediction by Fr. Nicholas Callahan, who was joining us for the day from St. Joseph's Seminary, he processed out onto the Grand Concourse in Brooklyn anew, joined by dozens of new pilgrims from Christ the King who were joyously singing Spanish Eucharistic hymns and leading decades of the Holy Rosary.

Pilgrims processed to Yankee Stadium where Fr. Callahan held the Blessed Sacrament for the adoration of pilgrims and blessed the Stadium and the pilgrims who attend events there.

The final leg of the lengthy pilgrimage was to Cardinal Hayes High School, where there was a period of three hours of adoration before a Eucharistic Holy Hour led by Bishop Joseph Espaillat, auxiliary bishop of New York, and Pjeter Nilaj, head of the Young Adult Office of the Archdiocese. During the Holy Hour, Bishop Espaillat, Nilaj and pilgrim Amayrani Higueldo all gave bilingual Eucharistic testimonies.

Higueldo, who grew up in Norristown, Pennsylvania, surprised Bishop Espaillat by saying that her Eucharistic conversion occurred in the Bronx, at the Centro Hispano Carismatico that Espaillat directs, during one of the retreats he preached. That's why it meant so much to her to be asked to give a witness talk in the Bronx, she said, and that the pilgrims would be receiving overnight accommodations at the Center.

Jeffrey Bruno Photos

Catholic Bronx Photos

NY Archdiocese Preview for this day

Marina Frattaroli Interview with Catholic Bronx


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