I grew up in Orange County in a normal Catholic family. I went to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, said the rosary at home, attended Mother of Perpetual Help devotions on Wednesdays and went to Confession once every three weeks whether I needed it or not. I can recall making up sins for the priest because I didn’t want to disappoint him.
One of the memories I have was of our parish processions. Usually, there were three: one in May for Mary, one in August for Mary and one on the Feast of Corpus Christi which was the most beautiful. The sisters made sure ahead of time that we were dressed well, arrived on time and then organized ourselves by ministry groups behind the priest who was dressed in gold vestments with the monstrance under the great canopy. As a young child I was in the school children section. We dressed in our First Communion clothes every year until we couldn’t fit in them.
Then sister with a handheld microphone and speaker would direct us forward, slow us down, move us faster, all while reciting the rosary. Slowly we wound around the school property until we finally entered the church for benediction. Sister timed it perfectly so that the rosary ended as we made it to the church doors.
Everything culminated with the Sunday choir intoning the Tantum Ergo, bells ringing, incense billowing and then all of us bowing our heads as the Holy Eucharist was raised above us in blessing.
Many years later, I was appointed pastor of that same parish, St. Anne in Seal Beach. Now a parish of mostly Irish and German families was bustling with Vietnamese, Hispanic and Anglo families. Remembering my memory as a child of our parish processions, I revived the devotion for a new generation.
On the day, little by little people arrived and groups found each other. I carried the Blessed Sacrament under a great canopy, surrounded by incense and lit torches. A statue of Our Lady of Fatima was carried in procession, along with Our Lady of Guadalupe further back. The rosary was recited now in Vietnamese, English and Spanish.
This time we walked through the streets, passing condos, homes, a theater and a large Protestant church. The first time we had our procession we had nearly 1000 people. The second time, we numbered 1200 plus.
By Father Al Baca from OC Catholic