Sep. 12—Spokane residents going about their Sunday errands may have had reason to pause while passing through downtown as a crowd of an estimated 2,500 Catholics marched from the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, through Riverfront Park to the Podium sports complex.
Worshipers wore walking shoes under their Sunday best in the 80-degree heat. Led by Bishop Thomas Daly carrying Eucharist encased in a monstrance, seminary students, nuns and other religious figures trailed the holy symbol, carrying lanterns and swinging a censer of incense. The group walked about a mile from the cathedral immediately following Mass to the sports complex, where the Catholic Diocese of Spokane held its Eucharistic Exposition. The event was an opportunity for worshipers to come together in prayer.
"The Eucharist is the summit of the Catholic faith," said Larry Grayhek, a member of the St. Peter Parish in Spokane. "We believe it's the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ."
"It's completely cool, it's cool just to show our community," Grayhek said, remarking at the turnout.
Busloads of worshipers arrived to the cathedral steps from all over Eastern Washington to attend the expo and walk to sing and pray with other parishioners. Couple Paul and Lisa Carey traveled from their Parish in Clarkston, Washington.
"Is this the line for Starbucks?" Paul Carey joked, standing a couple hundred people deep in the procession.
The two noted the extravagance of Sunday's festivities, impressed by the pageantry of Mass that morning and the swaths of worshipers who arrived to walk and attend the expo. To them, the thousands in pursuit of the Eucharist was symbolic, of the Eucharist central in Catholicism.
"It's supposed to bring awareness to the Eucharist, to the importance of it and how sacred it is in the church," Lisa Carey said.
Some, like the Careys, mingled with Catholics from other parishes. Others used the opportunity to walk in silent contemplation, donning prayer veils and working their fingers across rosaries as they walked. Many sang coordinated songs from a program passed out ahead of the procession. When a song concluded, only the shuffle of feet and clinking of rosary beads were audible.
Even after the crowd of Catholics funneled into the sports complex, traces of their procession remain. Smoky frankincense incense lingered in the air at Riverfront Park, as did a trail of rose petals along downtown sidewalks.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to accurately reflect Larry Grayhek's Parish.
Elena Perry's work is funded in part by members of the Spokane community via the Community Journalism and Civic Engagement Fund. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper's managing editor.