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St Richard’s celebrates the Feast of Corpus Christi in the Year of the Eucharist

Pope John Paul II gave the keynote theme in his apostolic letter Mane Nobiscum Domine – Stay with us, Lord.

"This year let us also celebrate with particular devotion the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, with its traditional procession. Our faith in the God who took flesh in order to become our companion along the way needs to be everywhere proclaimed, especially in our streets and homes, as an expression of our grateful love and as an inexhaustible source of blessings."

The flower arranging team led by Pat Ware set out the theme of our celebration, to a design by Marysia Lack, by laying hundreds of flower heads and foliage – The Year of the Eucharist.

The sanctuary and church were bedecked with flowers and with banners brought in from Storrington Priory by Fr Thomas Swaffer, who organised the day.

Children painted banners and flags for the procession.

Worship was enhanced by music including the West Chiltington Band. The church was packed – every seat taken in the galleries. Children who had made their First Holy Communion during the month were given pride of place on the sanctuary.

Pope John Paul’s words again:

"I would like the young people to gather around the Eucharist as the vital source which nourishes their faith and enthusiasm."

At the end of Mass, the Blessed Sacrament was taken across the carpet of flowers and onto the Chichester roads.

Strewers scattered traditional petals and boys carried their banner.

Brian Pointer of the Pastoral Planning group and Geoff Breeze of St Peter’s led the way with the one hundred and fifty people filing out into the sunshine.

The procession was an act of witness emphasised by the Pope.

"Our faith in the God who took flesh in order to become our companion along the way needs to be everywhere proclaimed, especially in our streets and homes, as an expression of our grateful love and as an inexhaustible source of blessings."

The Knights of St Columba carried the canopy.

Laburnum Grove lived up to its name. Here several parishioners were given special blessings.

Colourful dresses from the East and from Africa marked the welcome widening national mix in our parish.

The procession became more informal on the estate pathways – low trees meant that Fr Thomas went ahead without the ceremonial canopy – in the midst of local admirers as well as our own children.

The flower petals sustained right through the route until St Richard’s was reached.

The day long exposition began with a special blessing.

Children will remember the day all their lives. Most will want to process again. Came the evening and Fr Kieron presided over prayers to round off our celebration.

Pope John Paul II: "I consider it a great grace to be able to call the whole church to contemplate, praise, and adore in a special way this ineffable sacrament. May it encourage a more lively and fervent celebration of the Eucharist, leading to a Christian life transformed by love.

"If the only result of this year were the revival in all Christian communities of the celebration of Sunday mass and an increase in eucharistic worship outside Mass, this year of grace would be abundantly successful."