Diocesan News

Parishioners Walked Under ‘Blessings from the Lord’ Enroute to Eucharistic Revival

Pink rain ponchos shielded the St. Michael’s Church Drum Corps during their 1.6-mile trek to the Louis Armstrong stadium. (Photo: Courtesy of Eric Raic)

CORONA — Parishioners from three churches in Queens ignored a chilly drizzle on Saturday, April 20, as they walked in processions to the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Eucharistic Revival. 

These faithful couldn’t care less about getting wet, knowing they soon would be in the presence of their lord and savior, Jesus Christ. 

An estimated 6,500 like-minded people filled Louis Armstrong Stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park for the diocese’s first Eucharistic Revival. They came to celebrate and proclaim the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. 

The three processing parishes are each within two miles of the venue: St. Michael’s in Flushing and Our Lady of Sorrows and St. Leo’s, both in Corona. 

The diocese first set the revival for Oct. 7 but postponed it because of inclement weather. This time, early-morning showers had no sway. 

Father Vincentius Do, pastor of St. Michael’s, said about 250 parishioners made the morning trek from their church at 136-76 41st Ave. in Flushing. 

It started raining when they started walking, he said. “So, we immediately went out into the rain and didn’t stop,” he added. “It was a fine experience.” 

Erica Raic, a parishioner, said each drop of rain was “a blessing from the Lord. When you think about it like that, it makes it fun.” 

Members of St. Michael’s Parish in Flushing greet each other and everyone else during Mass for the first-ever Eucharistic Revival for the Diocese of Brooklyn, April 20, at Louis Armstrong Stadium. (Photo: Bill Miller)

Providing procession pomp was the parish’s Drum Corps; its members, shrouded in pink rain ponchos, pounded drums and clanged the cymbals on their 1.6-mile trek to the stadium. Father Do briefly joined in the drumming. 

Raic said the procession forged solidarity among the parish’s language communities, including Chinese, English, Filipino Tagalog, and Spanish. However, the diocesan-wide attendance also had a unique appeal. 

“It’s interesting we have this opportunity to come together from so many different parishes,” she said. “I didn’t want to miss it.” 

Father Carlos Agudelo, pastor of the Church of St. Leo, is also dean of Queens Deanery 3. He expressed pride in the revival participation from each of the eight parishes in the deanery.

But, of course, he had special praise for his own parish. He said about 400 parishioners launched their procession at 7:30 a.m. from the church at 104-05 49th Ave. They, too, were undeterred by the rain.

The procession coincided with a reunion event at a neighboring Christian church, where people watched in awe as the St. Leo pilgrims headed to the stadium.

“It was funny because they were like in shock,” Father Agudelo said of the neighbors. “They had about 25 people around, but then they saw us — 400 people, just walking together with the banner of our parish and praying the rosary. But we greeted them, said hello to them.

“It was a very good sign of the faith.”

Father Agudelo also praised the parish’s youth. About 100 of them joined the procession. He noted that a half dozen of them held workshops helping older parishioners navigate the digital registration process for the revival. They shared how to download the event’s app onto their phones and how to scan QR codes.

“For three Sundays, we opened a station in the basement, with the kids volunteering their time,” the pastor said. “That was so amazing, seeing those young kids, ages 15 or 16 years old, helping the older people.”

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On the other side of Corona, Father Manuel de Jesús Rodríguez, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows, 104-11 37th Ave., counted 1,476 participants — 795 adults and 681 children. 

Father Manuel de Jesús Rodríguez, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows, was prominently seen moving about his parishioners, organizing their places in the procession. Here he coaxes the parish youth to hurry into position. (Photo: Bill Miller)

The predominantly Spanish-speaking walkers ranged in age from infants to 85. Nearly all wore special yellow T-shirts made for the occasion.

Likewise, the pastor wore a yellow shirt over his clerical attire and a wide-brimmed hat perched on the back of his head. His height had him towering over everyone else as he organized his pilgrims’ places in the procession. 

The youth stepped off first. But with so many people mobilizing for the revival’s 9 a.m. start time, Father Rodríguez coaxed them to accelerate. 

“Kids!” he shouted. “Vamos! Vamos! Vamos!” 

Later, while walking at the end of the procession, Father Rodríguez said police and security officials had a well-planned strategy to escort the group, but on a tight schedule. 

“The police had everything ready,” he explained. “They were waiting for us. That’s why I was rushing the kids. We’re a pretty large community, so it took time. But we’re here now.” 

Among the youths was Joshua Pauta, a 16-year-old altar server and one of four teens who carried the banner for their parish. Later he joined his parents, Luis and Narcisa, during a revival break.

Joshua Pauta (right), a 16-year-old altar server, was one of four teens who carried the banner for Our Lady of Sorrows Parish to the Eucharistic Revival. He is shown here with his parents, Luis and Narcisa, at the revival, April 20, at Louis Armstrong Stadium. (Photo: Bill Miller)

 He said he was impressed with the organization of the procession, from the church to the stadium. 

“The cops did well, keeping the cars out of the way,” he said. “I had fun.” 

Our Lady of Sorrows parishioners, clad in yellow, prominently occupied the highest level that ringed the stadium — a venue for championship professional tennis matches. 

Father Rodríguez marveled at their devotion to the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. 

“You can see how lovely, how faithful, how joyful these people live their faith,” he said. “So, yeah, I’m proud and honored and joyful.”

(Photos: Geony Ayyad)