Alabama college students to host school’s first Eucharistic procession

Joe Bukuras   By Joe Bukuras for CNA


A priest bows before the Eucharist, housed in a gold monstrance. / Paul Sri/CNA

Boston, Mass., Nov 18, 2021 / 10:30 am (CNA).

The Catholic student center at the University of South Alabama in Mobile is set to host the school’s first-ever Eucharistic procession the evening of Nov. 18.

“We are very honored to be a part of the first ever Eucharistic procession on campus,” said Millie Martorana, a junior majoring in Business Management who attends Mass at the student center.

The event is set to begin with a Mass in front of the school’s Hancock Whitney Stadium at 6 p.m. CST, followed by the Eucharistic procession which will stop in the middle of the campus at the Moulton Tower for prayers, and will finish at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Student Center. Organizers say the event is open to all students and anyone off campus who wishes to participate.

Martorana told CNA she is most excited about the opportunity to “offer this powerful prayer for all of the students on campus and testify to the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist in the Catholic Church.”

“I hope that this event will allow students to encounter Jesus through reverence, beauty, and prayer wherever they may be,” she added.

Father Norbert Jurek, chaplain at the student center, told CNA that after talking to the chaplains who preceded him, he discovered that this will likely be the first time a Eucharistic procession has ever taken place on the public University of South Alabama campus.

Students of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Student Center at the University of South Alabama with the chaplain, Fr. Norbert Jurek (back row, third from right). Courtesy of Katie Ray
Students of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Student Center at the University of South Alabama with the chaplain, Fr. Norbert Jurek (back row, third from right). Courtesy of Katie Ray

“We are really happy that we were able to put it together this year and hopefully it’s going to be a regular thing,” Jurek said, adding that students are not generally on campus during the Feast of Corpus Christi, a day when Eucharistic processions are widely held across the world.

Alabama as a whole has a population of almost 5 million, only about 7% of whom are Catholic, with the vast majority of Alabamans identifying as Protestant.

Archbishop Thomas Rodi of Mobile has declared “The Year of the Eucharist and the Parish,” which ends Nov. 21, 2021. As a result, the Catholic student center was inspired to do a Eucharistic procession to finish out the year, Jurek said.

Jurek also said that because of “unfortunate” reports of the large percentage of Catholics who do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the Center decided the Eucharistic procession would be a great way to demonstrate their belief.

Current students and alumni have reached out to Jurek sharing their excitement about the procession, he said, giving him “a lot of positive feedback.”

“I have to say the university was also very helpful in organizing it, approving the whole event, so that has been great as well,” he said.

Jurek said he thinks the Mass and procession will take a little more than an hour to complete, after which participants are invited back to the center for free reception.

Martorana said she thinks that the event “will encourage all involved to live out the passage in Luke 8 that says, ‘No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light’: to share and proclaim the gift that is the true presence of Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.”

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