Thousands of people gathered in Times Square for a eucharistic procession in New York City on May 27, 2023. / Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
New York City, N.Y., May 31, 2023 / 09:05 am (CNA).
In what many are calling the largest eucharistic procession ever held in New York City, thousands of people took to the streets reciting prayers and singing songs of praise on the vigil of Pentecost, May 27.
The NYPD estimated more than 4,000 people took to the streets and processed through Times Square. Led by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Espaillat of the Archdiocese of New York, the procession brought together priests, nuns, and laity to pray for the forgiveness of sins in the iconic city and the world.
The theme of the procession was “¡Esta ciudad pertenece a Jesucristo!” — “This city belongs to Jesus Christ!”
The procession was organized by the Hispanic Catholic Charismatic Center located in the Bronx, which is part of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. Participants started at Father Duffy Square in Times Square and after two hours, the procession ended at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Mass was celebrated.
With a bullhorn in hand, Espaillat shared intense words to the faithful, saying: “In the middle of New York is the cross of Jesus Christ!”
“And this is why we rejoice today. We rejoice because this is Pentecost weekend. And we know what happened on Pentecost, right? There was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” he said.
“And we would not be standing here if it were not for the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen?”
“So my sisters and my brothers in Christ, we rejoice today for the blessings that God has in store for this great city. I love this city! I love New York! And that’s why I’m here, because I want to pray for our city. Amen?”
He exclaimed in Spanish: “¡Esta es mi ciudad! ¡Esta es nuestra ciudad! ¡Esta ciudad es de Jesucristo!” which translates to “This is my city! This is our city! This city is Jesus Christ’s’!”
Photojournalist Jeffrey Bruno, who happened to be in the city for another assignment and stumbled upon the procession thanks to an Instagram post, said: “I have never seen anything like that before, especially in New York.”
One particularly moving moment Bruno captured was the crowded street, lined by the skyscrapers of Times Square, filled with the faithful kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament as it was being lifted high into the air.
Father Shane Johnson, administrator of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church and director of the Hispanic Catholic Charismatic Center, told CNA: “To me, the number of people was secondary to the amount of real authentic faith that was so evident in those who were present. It was astonishing.”
“These moments of kneeling on the asphalt in the middle of a city street with our arms raised to God remind us of who we are as his children and how this city really does belong entirely to him,” he added.
Johnson explained that while many view New York City as hostile toward Catholic events, such as protests held during pro-life walks in the city, the vast majority of people are respectful.
“There is far more faith than might appear at first glance,” he shared. “When the majority is silent and a tiny minority is very loud, we get the impression that faith is moribund, but I’m convinced that our Lord’s victory in the hearts of his children is, almost all of the time, far greater than we realize.”
“Most people like to see expressions of faith, even when they don’t understand them fully, and even in a city that’s often considered more famous for its sinners than for its many saints.”
The eucharistic procession was organized as part of the Church’s National Eucharistic Revival. The next procession will take place on the feast of Corpus Christi, Sunday, June 11.