On Monday, June 23, the Pro-Life Action League and the Archdiocese of Chicago sponsored a Eucharistic Procession downtown Chicago to kick off the Fortnight for Freedom, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ effort to encourage awareness and prayer for religious freedom in our country.
The event, which has been held for the last three years, began with Mass celebrated by Fr. James Heyd at St. Peter’s in the Loop, an iconic downtown Chicago parish that serves the huge crowds who work in the city’s center each day.
Songs and Questions Along the Procession
The faithful wait for a red light during the procession [Photo by Sam Scheidler]
After Mass, over 80 of the faithful followed Fr. Gerald O’Reilly as he processed out of the church and into the streets of the Windy City carrying Our Lord’s body and blood in a monstrance under a beautiful canopy carried by four members of the Legion of Mary. The faithful sang hymns in praise of the Blessed Sacrament as we walked Chicago’s busy streets.
As we processed several blocks to Federal Plaza, the response from bystanders was very interesting to see. Some recognized the presence of Christ and crossed themselves or bowed, others muttered that it looked like “some Catholic thing, maybe Orthodox?”, still others asked what was going on.
One young man walked alongside me for a while asking question after question about the significance of the procession, and even stayed and took video of the prayers at Federal Plaza on his phone.
Rosary at Federal Plaza
When we arrived at Federal Plaza, a location significant as the site of many religious freedom rallies since the announcement of the HHS Mandate in 2012, the faithful took to their knees and Fr. O’Reilly led the prayer of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.
Eric Scheidler leads a decade of the rosary [Photo by Sam Scheidler]
Each mystery was led by a different person present, including a 13-year old girl, other priests, and Pro-Life Action League executive director Eric Scheidler.
At the conclusion of the prayers, the Eucharist was processed back to St. Peter.
As always, it was awe inspiring to see Jesus paraded through the streets of one of the world’s busiest cities. It brings a sense of peace and holiness to an otherwise bustling and harried space.
It was an honor to take part in this event, and the Pro-Life Action League is pleased to continue to lead the way in the fight against any limiting of our God-given right to religious exercise in the public square.