On Corpus Christi Sunday, a feast that honors the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, the Diocese of Allentown marked the end of its Year of the Real Presence celebration.
Hundreds of priests, deacons, seminarians, religious, and the faithful packed Most Blessed Sacrament church in Bally for a Solemn Mass and Eucharistic Procession at which Bishop Alfred Schlert formally declared the Jubilee Year of the Real Presence closed.
“We have come to the concluding solemn act of our Year of the Real Presence, this Mass and the Eucharistic Procession that follows, and we have so much for which to give thanks and be joyful,” Bishop Schlert said.
“Today we go into the streets to proclaim our devotion and unwavering faith that Jesus is truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and that we unashamedly bring Him to those around us as the Light of the World.”
Looking to the future, the Bishop asked the faithful and his brother priests to continue the hours of Adoration, Confession, and other initiatives that were begun during the Year of the Real Presence.
“By staying anchored to the Altar and the Most Blessed Sacrament, we will remain faithful to the Gospel and to the teachings of the Church,” he said. “As your bishop, I pledge to proclaim the Gospel and safeguard those teachings with all my strength in faithfulness to the Lord’s command to ‘Feed My Sheep.’”
The Year of the Real Presence celebrated the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist – body, blood, soul, and divinity – and it also celebrated people of the Diocese once again being really present at Mass as the pandemic eased.
It was a historic year and a special time in parishes and schools throughout the Diocese, filled with special events, liturgical celebrations, increased emphasis on prayer for vocations, ample time for individual and group prayer and reflection at parishes around the five counties of the Diocese.
The Year of the Real Presence coincided with the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Allentown by Pope Saint John XXIII, when the counties of Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton, and Schuylkill were separated away from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Most Blessed Sacrament Parish is the oldest parish in the Diocese of Allentown, and the only one dedicated to the Holy Eucharist.
The parish was established in 1741, when the first Catholics arrived in the area, which was then called Goshenhoppen. According to tradition, the Catholics joined with area Mennonites to build the original chapel on the site. Nearly 100 years later, Father Augustin Bally, S.J., was named pastor of the parish. Later, the name of the surrounding village would be changed to Bally.