Intercultural Corpus Christi procession in Rock Hill


by Mary Marshall

ROCK HILL — Eighty Hispanic, Vietnamese and American Catholics came together to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi on June 3 with a procession through the tranquil grounds of the Oratory to stations representing their various countries. Diversified languages and customs came together to bring unity to the feast as Oratian Father Adilso Coelho stressed that we are all one in the body of Christ.

“We join together because we are the body of Christ,” said Father Coelho. “Nationality doesn’t matter; we are all the body, and that is what is most important.”

Attending the gathering, which has been a tradition at the Oratory for 50 years, were members from surrounding parishes: All Saints Mission, Lake Wylie; St. Anne, Rock Hill; Divine Saviour, York; St. Joseph, Chester; St. Mary, Rock Hill; St. Philip Neri, Fort Mill; and members from the Oratory community.

The various communities decorated their altars with flowers and banners depicting their native tradition. Each nationality read Scripture and sang songs in their native language when the procession reached their station. With the Blessed Sacrament as the focal point of the celebration, Father Coelho offered a prayer and a blessing.

The celebration began in church with song and prayer and the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. With banners, incense, and candles, Oratorian priests and brothers, members of the Knights of Columbus and lay people proceeded from station to station praying the glorious mysteries of the rosary as Father Coelho carried the Blessed Sacrament.

The solemn procession walked through the quiet gardens of the Oratory stopping at Newman Hall, site of the Hispanic station, where the Blessed Sacrament was placed on the altar. A reading from John 6: 51-59 in Spanish was followed by native songs accompanied by guitar.

The group reverently recited the next decade of the rosary as they journeyed to the Vietnamese station in front of Walsh Hall. Here a Vietnamese representative read Scripture in her native tongue followed by all joining in traditional song.

“This celebration brings out the unification of the church among the different nationalities, stating we are all one in Christ,” said Angela Street of the Latino community at the Oratory.

The communities returned to the church, the American station, where John 6: 32-35 was read in English followed by the singing of Tantum Ergo in Latin, benediction, and the recitation of the Divine Praises.

For Denise Kizer of the Oratory Latino community, this was a time to celebrate that the Body and Blood of Christ is the most precious gift Jesus gave us.

“We celebrate Christ’s maximum demonstration of love and the most important part of the Mass,” said Kizer.

“We come together to celebrate God in our lives,” said Van Vu, of St. Anne Parish. “To express our happiness in our own language is very meaningful. God is most important in our lives. Everything we do is with God’s help.”