Archbishop Alexander Sample carries the Eucharist in Couch Park June 19. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
Archbishop Alexander Sample carries the Eucharist in Couch Park June 19. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
Scores of worshippers processed behind Archbishop Alexander Sample June 19 as he carried the Eucharist from St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to Couch Park.

On grassy hill, the serene group adored Jesus in the Eucharist and prayed a rosary, the sounds of city life buzzing and sweet smoke from incense rising into the trees.

The procession, with Knights of Columbus in charge of safety, then returned to the cathedral for benediction, following a bike lane on Northwest 19th Avenue.

It was the annual feast of Corpus Christi, when Catholics make a special effort to realize that Jesus is present in the Eucharist.

In his homily at Mass before the procession, Archbishop Sample noted that the pandemic revealed a deep yearning for Eucharist in many and yet a satisfaction in others to view Mass online, perhaps never to return in person. And just before the pandemic, a Pew poll revealed that only a third of U.S. Catholics agree with church teaching that the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ, as opposed to a symbol.

That caused alarm among the nation’s bishops, Archbishop Sample said. In response, the bishops have planned a revival of eucharistic faith over the next few years to culminate in a summit in Indiana in 2025. The bishops wrote a document last year called “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church,” which explains that the Eucharist is Jesus’ sacrifice, in which participants commune with Jesus and with each other.

Archbishop Sample said he is excited by the planned revival.

Parishes across western Oregon had their own Corpus Christi processions in neighborhoods.

Plans called for the cathedral procession to end at the North Park Blocks. But that district was a staging area for Portland’s June 19 Pride Parade, which drew thousands marching for LGBTQ rights.