ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY RELEASE: With blue skies, warmth from the sun and not a cloud in sight, Sydneysiders turned out in force on Sunday, 26 June to celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi by taking part in the city's annual Walk with Christ.
Now in its seventh year, the Corpus Christi Walk With Christ set off from the historic St Patrick's Church on Church Hill in the Rocks and then wound its way through the CBD before heading east to St Mary's Cathedral.
Led by Bishop Julian Porteous, the Archdiocese of Sydney's Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation and Renewal, and the Archdiocese's Auxiliary Bishops, the Most Rev Terence Brady and newly-ordained Bishop Peter A. Comensoli, the annual procession on Corpus Christi has become an important and much loved tradition for Sydney's Catholics and this year, the numbers who took part surpassed all previous years.
But even in last year's cold and rain, thousands were still keen to take part and despite 2010's wintry conditions, more than 4000 joined the procession.
This year however with no wind and lots of sunshine the numbers who participated exceeded all expectations with between 8,000 and 10,000 estimated to have taken part.
"It's hard to be precise about numbers but whichever way I looked all I could see were people filling the streets and stretching back as far as I could see," said one participant.
From 2.30 pm when the procession set off on Sunday, there were prayers, hymns of praise and a feeling of joy as thousands of the faithful followed the three Prelates and Blessed Sacrament on their journey from the Rocks to the Cathedral.
The Procession of the Blessed Sacrament marks the Feast of Corpus Christi each year and has its beginnings back in Medieval times, having been created in the 13th Century as a way for Catholics to express their appreciation of the precious gifts of the Eurcharist.
After eight centuries, the Walk With Christ is embedded in Catholic culture and spiritual tradition, and according to Bishop Julian is now also an integral part of Sydney life and the Australian Church calendar.
"The procession is a way of giving thanks to God for the great gift of the Eucharist and is an expression of our own devotion to the Eucharist as well as being a public witness to our faith," he explains.
Accompanied by Bishop Brady and Bishop Comensoli, Bishop Julian carried the Blessed Sacrament as he led the procession on its journey through the city to the Cathedral, and said he was delighted not only with the large turnout but with the number of primary school children who were representing schools from throughout the Archdiocese as well as the large number of families who brought along their young children, toddlers and babies in prams or push chairs.
Another feature of this year's Walk With Christ were the many choirs who took part, including the highly-regarded choir from the Seminary of the Good Shepherd who led those taking part in the march in hymns and songs of praise.
Hundreds lined the streets and footpaths to watching this year's Walk With Christ, intrigued with what was happening and wanting to know more. For this reason, a number of participants wore blue T-shirts with the words "Ask me" emblazoned across the front, so they could any questions from spectators or those taking part about the Feast of Corpus Christi and the march itself.
Once the procession reached the Cathedral forecourt at around 4.30 pm on Sunday, there was Adoration and Benediction followed by a chance to learn more about the Church and the Archdiocese of Sydney agencies with stalls run by the Catholic Adult Education, the Vocations Centre, the Life, Family and Marriage Centre and Harvest Pilgrimages offering resources, help and information. This was also a time for participants in the Procession to mingle, talk about what the Walk With Christ had meant to them and meet old as well as make new friends.