People pray during a Nov. 4 Eucharistic Adoration at St. Patrick Parish in Rockville held in the wake of the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. People prayed for healing for abuse survivors and for healing in the Church. (CS PHOTO BY LESLIE KOSSOFF)
People pray during a Nov. 4 Eucharistic Adoration at St. Patrick Parish in Rockville held in the wake of the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. People prayed for healing for abuse survivors and for healing in the Church. (CS PHOTO BY LESLIE KOSSOFF)

Connie Sullivan, a longtime member of St. Patrick Parish in Rockville, called its Nov. 4 Eucharistic procession and Adoration “long overdue.” The 40 hours of Prayer for Reparation began with a .7-mile Eucharistic Procession – the first of its kind in the Rockville parish, Sullivan noted, “I hope we can do it regularly.”

The 81-year-old stood with a group of elderly parishioners on the sidewalk lining the church’s property on Norbeck Road – a portion which was closed for the procession – awaiting the arrival of the Eucharistic procession. Other parishioners were shuttled by bus to the starting point of the procession at the nearby Manor Country Club.

Soon the parish bells tolled, and the group on the sidewalk first noticed incense smoke rising over the crest of the road leading to the parish property. A single police car rolled by and the pastor, Msgr. Charles J. Parry, came into view. The pastor raised a monstrance displaying the Eucharist followed by parishioners including altar servers, members of the Knights of Columbus, Boy Scouts in uniform, friends of the parish and families – some with young children in strollers or on the shoulders of parents. The group on the sidewalk, some using walkers and canes, joined their fellow parishioners as the line wound through the church parking lot and processed inside where Msgr. Parry estimated around 500 people remained for Eucharistic Adoration.

“This is part of my personal and collective approach in response to the most recent sexual abuse scandals and cover-ups,” parishioner Barbara Martin said before entering. “What I really want is transparency and accountability by the bishops and administrators.”

Martin, who returned to St. Patrick’s a year ago to help her aging parents, said she prayed for “reparations for the wounds to the mystical body” and wanted all Catholics to come together in Christ again. “We have to protect souls,” Martin said, noting the innocent victims hurt by abuse.

Katherine Dante wanted to participate “to honor Christ in the Eucharist.” She said she would pray “to God for reparation for all that has happened – not only here in the Church, but the violence in all of the United States.”

Parishioner Dorothy Martin said the parish has helped hold one another together during a challenging time. “It’s been a bad betrayal,” she said.

Inside parishioners continued praying the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament including readings from Scripture, the Litany of the Sacred Heart, petitions of reparation, an Act of Contrition, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy during which Msgr. Parry and Father Nathanael Block, a priest in residence at St. Patrick’s, lay prostrate before the altar.

Earlier the pastor lamented the sexual abuse scandals of the Catholic Church and the other forms of violence in the world and nation, “The Church of Christ is suffering – His Church has been scarred,” Msgr. Parry said.

In order for healing to begin, the priest urged that all sins come to light, reparations made and the people’s suffering be linked to God’s suffering on the Cross. “Christ Jesus is purifying His Church from the inside out,” Msgr. Parry added.

He also paused to remember the victims of the shooting inside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27. “We must pray for our Jewish brethren – those whose lives were taken during prayer,” Msgr. Parry said. “I want healing,” he said, “where can it be found – in the Eucharist – the healing remedy for the ills that surround it.”

Later Msgr. Parry described many people pausing on the sidewalk along the procession route to kneel and several passengers in cars making the sign of the cross when the Eucharist passed. “We must stand up for the things that are right, stand up for Christ Jesus,” he said.

Msgr. Parry told the Catholic Standard he began planning for the Eucharistic procession and following two days of Adoration last spring but after the news of scandals grew, he felt called to focus on the Church’s suffering. The pastor decided to make the parish event an opportunity to ask for God’s mercy on the entire Church and to pray for the victims and all those affected by sexual abuse and violence. Msgr. Parry also showed his concern for the faithful who have left the Church over the events and included prayers for their return. He noted he was impressed by the turnout of parishioners.

Monica Ludwig, director of social concerns at the parish, said, “We should have more Eucharistic processions – more people need to see this. We are the Church. We have to pray for the priests, we have to pray for each other.”