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Day 9: Pilgrimage through Manhattan and Brooklyn

BROOKLYN, May 26 — The National Eucharistic PIlgrimage Seton Route had its largest multitudes yet as it traversed lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn together with the monstrance containing the Eucharistic presence of Jesus. It also had the privilege to visit two sites intimately associated with its patroness, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

The day began at St. Vincent Ferrer Church where the pilgrims had been given accommodations the previous night. There was a small procession with the Blessed Sacrament from the beautiful parish on Manhattan's Upper East side over to Central Park and down Fifth Avenue to St. Patrick's Cathedral, where the host was placed in the tabernacle in Our Lady's Chapel in anticipation of the 10:15 Mass at St. Patrick's, celebrated by His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

St. Patrick's Cathedral, which fits 3,000 people, was packed, with hundreds standing around the periphery of the Church. Mass was concelebrated by Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, and Bishop Gerardo Colacicco, auxiliary bishop of New York and coordinator of the Archdiocese's National Eucharistic Revival efforts.

In his homily for Sunday of the Most Blessed Trinity, Cardinal Dolan spoke about how God desires not just for us to know the dogma of the Trinity, but to know him, underlining that it is through Eucharistic communion that God has made it possible for us to remain in God and God in us.

After Holy Communion, Cardinal Dolan said the closing prayer before the Blessed Sacrament placed on St. Patrick's majestic high altar, and then proceeded to the front doors of St. Patrick's Cathedral, where a portable altar had been set up for adoration and benediction. There were hundreds of people outside and thousands inside as the Tantum Ergo was sung, Eucharistic Benediction given and the Divine Praises recited. Bishop Colacicco, covered with a humeral veil, then lifted the monstrance and began the procession.

Altogether the procession would last 14.5 miles and would involve a couple of thousand pilgrims. Along the way, among those carrying the canopy, including the postulants of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and students from Columbia University's Thomas Merton Institute for Catholic LIfe, was Patrick Kelly, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.

It began by taking 50th Street to Lexington, continued to 23rd Street, then moved to Broadway, which it took all the way to Barclay Street for a stop at the Church of St. Peter, the first and oldest Catholic Church in New York City.

The Church is famous, in particular, for being the sanctuary where St. Elizabeth Seton was received into the Church on March 14, 1805, received her first Confession on March 20, 1805, her first Holy Communion on March 25, 1805 and her Confirmation on May 26, 1806, exactly 218 years prior.

It is also the place where the Venerable Pierre Toussaint attended daily Mass for 66 years.

At the Church, after a half hour of silent adoration and a welcome by pastor Fr. Jarlath Quinn, Fr. Roger Landry, chaplain for the entirety of the Seton Route, gave a brief reflection on St. Elizabeth Seton and the Eucharistic Revival, and Fr. Pierre Toussaint, CFR, gave a reflection on his spiritual namesake. May 26 was the sixth anniversary of Fr. Pierre Toussaint's priestly ordination.

When Fr. Landry announced that, the standing room only Church broke out in spontaneous, sustained and grateful applause.

After benediction at St. Peter's, imparted by Bishop Colacicco, the Eucharistic Procession then went to the Seton Shrine, the former house of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and now the center of the Sisters of LIfe's Visitation Mission serving vulnerable pregnant women and new moms.

The chapel of the center fits a few hundred people as it was packed far beyond capacity, with thousands outside. A large group of pilgrims from the Diocese of Rockville Centre, led by Bishop John Barres, was present to meet and continue the pilgrimage.

Sr. Gianna Solomon, SV, the superior of the Sisters' Visitation Mission, welcomed the pilgrims and gave a beautiful reflection of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton's motherhood and love for the Eucharist. During a half hour of adoration, the Sisters of Life present sang several beautiful polyphonic Eucharistic hymns.

After benediction by Archbishop Caccia, the procession then moved toward the Brooklyn Bridge, where, at mid-span, Bishop Robert Brennan, Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn and abound a thousand faithful. Bishop Colacicco gave a benediction and handed the monstrance to Bishop Brennan, and the pilgrimage continued eastward.

The Brooklyn Bridge was packed on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, but, with the help of the New York Police Department, the procession moved smoothly on the southern side of the pedestrian walkway and many of those on the Bridge for other reasons responded with reverence as the Eucharistic Lord was passing by.

The procession then made its way to the Maronite Cathedral of Our Lady of Lebanon, where Bishop Gregory Mansour welcomed the Lord and pilgrims into a packed Church, where Maronite Litanies of praise and supplication were made to Jesus. Bishop Mansour led benediction and then handed the monstrance to Bishop Brennan as a long pilgrimage ensued to Brooklyn's co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, where after a period of adoration, Bishop Brennan imparted the last Eucharistic benediction of the day, led the Divine Praises, and reposed the luna containing the Eucharist in the tabernacle.

Here are some photos from the day from the incomparable Jeffrey Bruno.

Here is an interview with Jeffrey Bruno from June 21 which describes what it is like to cover the Eucharistic Pilgrimage as a Catholic and as a photojournalist.

Here are some other photos supplied by pilgrims.

A short video of the procession. Patrick Kelly, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, is one of 4 individuals volunteering to carry the canopy which covers Jesus in the Monstrance.


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