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‘Jesus is here’: Thousands join Eucharistic procession in Washington, DC

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Thousands of people turned out in Washington, D.C., on Saturday as part of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage in a public display of faith and devotion to Jesus Christ. 

The pilgrimage was one of four from across the country that will converge in Indianapolis, Indiana, in July, ahead of the National Eucharistic Congress

Pilgrims along the “Seton Route,” which began in New Haven, Connecticut, on May 17, reached Washington on June 8.

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They will remain in Washington on the morning of June 9, then continue their pilgrimage in Loretto, Pennsylvania, on Monday, June 10. 

More than 2,500 people registered in advance to attend a Mass celebrated at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception before the start of Saturday’s procession, an employee of the Archdiocese of Washington told Fox News Digital. 

Eucharistic procession

“It’s just a great time with the Lord,” one deacon told Fox News Digital on Saturday during the pilgrimage.  (Christine Rousselle/Fox News Digital)

One of those was Sherri Sarcemo from Rockland, Maryland. She served as a volunteer at the procession and walked the day’s route, she said. Volunteers were there to keep things orderly, make sure people followed directions and push the loudspeaker, through which the praying of the Rosary could be heard. 

The Catholic Church believes the “whole Christ is truly present — body, blood, soul and divinity — under the appearances of bread and wine” in the Eucharist, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

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As a result, the consecrated host becomes an object of devotion — and the pilgrims believe they are traveling with Jesus throughout the procession along the streets of various cities. 

It’s “a great way to interact and share faith with others here.”

Eucharistic adoration is “a very beautiful way to honor and give glory to our Lord Jesus Christ,” said Sarcemo. 

She volunteered during the pilgrimage as a “a great way to interact and share faith with others here,” she said. 

smiling group picture

Volunteers pose outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception ahead of the Eucharistic pilgrimage on Saturday, June 8.  (Christine Rousselle/Fox News Digital)

The Catholic faith, she said, emphasizes prayer and penance. 

A pilgrimage, especially one on a hot day in June in Washington, D.C., provides the opportunity for someone to “offer the discomfort as reparation for the sins of the world,” she said. 

Throughout Saturday’s event, the pilgrimage made several stops around Washington’s Brookland neighborhood, where attendees had the chance to listen to lessons about Jesus Christ and sit in Eucharistic adoration. 

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The procession was led by a priest holding a “monstrance” — a special container that displays the Eucharist. 

Deacon Steve Nash, assigned to a parish in Largo, Maryland, told Fox News Digital that this was the first time he’s participated in a Eucharistic procession of this magnitude. 

large crowd in Washington, DC

Thousands of people turned out on Saturday morning, June 8, to partake in the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage’s stop in Washington, D.C.  (Christine Rousselle/Fox News Digital)

“Jesus needs to be brought to the whole world,” he said. “We’re all sinners. So it’s good that we are here.” 

Said Nash, “There’s no better place to be than here in the whole wide universe — being with the Eucharist and being with others, and preparing for the Eucharistic Congress in July as well. It’s just a great time with the Lord.”

He added, “This is awesome.”

“It’s so special to be able to bring Him to others. I’ve been looking forward to this since I heard about it.”

Elle Rush from Arlington, Virginia, was beaming as she spoke to Fox News Digital about her excitement ahead of the pilgrimage’s start. 

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“Jesus is here,” she said. “We get to walk around, we get to follow Him through the streets.” 

Her friend, Flanigen Phillips of Nashville, said, “It’s so special to be able to bring Him to others. I’ve been looking forward to this since I heard about it.”

Man and woman holding Jesus banner

Some of those in attendance in Washington, D.C., told Fox News Digital they believed it was important to bring Jesus to the cities.  (Christine Rousselle/Fox News Digital)

Among the crowd assembled were several “perpetual pilgrims.” These young adults will be following the pilgrimage full time from its beginning in May to its conclusion in July. 

One person who did not initially plan on attending the pilgrimage on Saturday was Ethan Strohmetz.

A student at the Catholic University of America in Washington, he was unaware the pilgrimage was happening until he bumped into it while getting coffee.

“I just stepped outside and watched it go by,” he said. 

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Strohmetz said he had previously participated in Eucharistic adoration but was surprised to see such a large procession.

“A good start to the morning,” he told Fox News Digital. 

There have been nine previous instances of the National Eucharistic Congress; this year’s is the first since 1941. 

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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