Every year, within the compound of Anchorage’s Blessed Sacrament Monastery, a group of cloistered Catholic nuns celebrates a private eucharistic procession to mark the Feast of Corpus Christi. It is a day in which the Catholic Church pays special honor to the Body of Christ. This year, the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration decided to do something a little different and expand their annual procession of the Body of Christ to the wider world.
Inspiration for the public procession was sparked with the establishment this past year of a lay group made up of Alaskan men and women called the Perpetual Adorers of the Most Blessed Sacrament Association. These consecrated members are under the direction of the monastery’s Mother Superior Evelia, and they assist the nuns in praying before the Blessed Sacrament in the monastery’s chapel.
It was determined that a public procession on June 22 was appropriate to demonstrate the charism of both the new association and the nuns, namely to adore Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Eucharistic processions are a longstanding Catholic practice in which the consecrated host — The Body of Christ — is honored through a ceremonial procession, usually in a public location or on church property.
More than 250 people turned out for the June 22 event.
An email from the new lay association in Anchorage noted that these processions are a way to obey Christ’s command and to bring him to the broader world.
“We are answering this command in the most literal way possible – publicly processing Christ in The Most Blessed Sacrament,” stated an email from Sandon Broek, vice president of Perpetual Adorers of the Most Blessed Sacrament. “Our hope is that souls will be touched and awakened because of this procession; that perhaps those who are destined to see this procession will be touched in a special way with God’s grace and given clarity to remember that which is most important in this life — to love and adore our Lord Jesus Christ, truly present in the Eucharist.”
While the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration rarely leave the grounds of their South Anchorage cloister, two nuns were granted special permission this year to join the lay faithful in the procession. The remaining nuns stayed back in the monastery, joining the others with their prayers.
The event included several area clergy along with the Knights of Columbus leading the procession in full regalia. Father Luz Flores, pastoral director of Holy Spirit Center, celebrated Mass at the monastery to begin the day. From there, priests from the two Catholic churches near the monastery took a lead role in the eucharistic procession. Father Peter Kim, of St. Andrew Kim Korean Catholic Church, processed the Blessed Sacrament from the monastery across Lake Otis Parkway to St. Andrew Kim. Then Father Andrew Lee, of Holy Cross Church, led the procession from St. Andrew Kim back across Lake Otis to Holy Cross Church. The lay association president, Deacon Gustavo Azpicueta, processed the Blessed Sacrament from Holy Cross Church to the monastery’s chapel. The total walking distance was about one mile.
At both St. Andrew Kim and Holy Cross, participants observed a brief time of adoration and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament before continuing the procession. The event ended at the monastery chapel with a final blessing.
Organizers said they hope to make this an annual tradition.