By Patrick Ciriacks
The “sweet weight of Christ” was the way Bishop Donald Hying described his carrying of the monstrance, containing the Body of Christ, from Holy Redeemer Church in Madison to the capitol steps three blocks away. Bishop Hying’s participation was a key element of the Unite Wisconsin Eucharistic Procession and Patriotic Rosary Rally held in Madison on Saturday, August 15th , the Solemnity of the Assumption.
The event also featured the participation of Archbishop Jerome Listecki who prayed the first decade of the Joyful Mysteries, the Annunciation, and led the Benediction ceremony to close the celebration.
What began as a gray day with intermittent rain cleared up as Father Rick Heilman, pastor of St. Mary of Pine Bluff Church, kicked off this historic event by leading the praying of the Angelus just as the church bells rang at noon.
Approximately 3,000 people, led by altar boys carrying candles, second grade girls in their First Communion dresses releasing rose petals, one at a time, onto the street, the Eucharist, carried by Bishop Hying, priests, deacons and the Pine Bluff Men’s Choir processed up State Street.
This same street was the scene of violent rioting at the end of June and is pockmarked by graffiti-covered plywood covering the windows of stores and restaurants that were forced out of business. The Madison police force was present to close the streets to traffic and to ensure the safety of all participants. At the end of the event the entire crowd gave the police officers a prolonged standing ovation as the sun appeared from behind the clouds.
Unite Wisconsin was conceived by Kevin O’Brien, president of Men of Christ. He felt a need to get personally involved to overcome the anxiety and feeling of helplessness that he sensed in his friends and family. “I woke up one morning to the sound of my wife, Leslie, crying. That was the moment I realized that I needed to do something. So, I gathered some friends and we brainstormed the idea and Unite Wisconsin was born.”
O’Brien continued, “We wanted to tie into Fr. Rick Heilman’s “Let Freedom Ring” and “54-Day Novena” initiatives. There is power in prayer, and strength in numbers. We just needed to connect to the two. We targeted the Solemnity of the Assumption and, in three weeks we had a few thousand people turn out for this celebration. Thanks be to God!”
“We followed St. Augustine’s advice and ‘worked as though it all depended upon us and prayed as though it all depended upon God.’ And it all came together. It was a historic event that brought much hope, and we pray will inspire many across this great country to do the same.”
Unite Wisconsin is working on putting together a play book on how to replicate what they did across the country.
Relevant Radio® brings you news and current events that are important to Catholics, but often overlooked by mainstream media outlets. Help us continue our work by supporting our Reach Out and Respond Pledge Drive this week. As a listener-supported apostolate, we rely on the generosity of listeners like you to fulfill our mission to bring Christ to the world through media. Every pledge matters, so make yours today!