May Procession 2008

Fr. Peter Daly

May 6, 2008

Parish Diary


            Sometimes I think I am in a time warp here. Being a priest in my parish is like being a priest back in the 1950s. Lots of kids. Mothers and fathers in most families. You know what it was like.  

            I have to say, I love it.

            The other day we had our May Procession and Crowning --- again right out of the 1950s.

            We have our May Procession on the first Monday of May to mark the close of our CCD year. (Yes, we still call religious education “CCD” here, even though very few know that “CCD” means Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.)

            The procession is a great excuse for the little girls to wear their First Holy Communion dresses again.

            We line up behind the Knights of Columbus in their “admiral” hats and capes. Behind them come the servers in white albs. Then me, in a white silk cape, which make me feel like the Pope.

            Then comes the teenage girl who will crown the Blessed Mother’s statue. Behind her are the First Communion kids in ragged lines. Finally the students, parents and teachers bring up the rear, with a few old folks.  

            We process around our parish grounds singing Immaculate Mary. Eventually we end up at the Marian shrine, in our parish cemetery. Some of the kids have never been in the cemetery. Suddenly they realized that “there are dead people here!”

            At the beginning of the procession teachers distribute plastic rosaries to everybody who doesn’t have a rosary. We have scads of them because, again like the 1950s, a grandfather of one some of our students made more than 10,000 rosaries with his rosary group.

            Down at the grotto the kids are fidgety. This may be the first time they have ever said a rosary all the way through. Some lose focus. The boys start swinging their rosaries in a circle. The parents send them those “dagger” looks.

            At the end of the rosary we crown the Blessed Mother with wreath of flowers fitted into a fabric head band. A teenage girl, recently confirmed, does the crowning. She is assisted by girl in her first communion dress. The teenager places the crown on Mary’s head. It fit more or less. The headband crown made Mary look kind of well, 1950s.  

            After the crowning we recited the Litany of Loreto. During the litany children come forward with flowers they have brought for Mary. Teachers place them in plastic vases around the statue. We learned our lesson not to use glass vases.  One year we had broken glass everywhere.

            Chanting the Litany has a kind of rhythm to it. You know how it goes, “Virgin most pure --- pray for us. Virgin most chaste --- pray for us.”  The little boys start swinging their hips and doing break dance moves. Again the parents send “dagger” looks.   

            At the end of the litany we tried to sing “Sing of Mary.” The kids were in a hurry. They know that a barbeque follows. We blessed the food before dismissal. They break ranks and run for chow on the parish field. 

            In our parish, men only cook outside. The only exception to this rule is breakfast. Then they cook inside. Outdoor cooking is all about meat. Men in our parish leave the rest of the dietary spectrum to women.  Again like the 1950s.

            After dinner the kids run out on the field to fly kites and kick soccer balls. This being Maryland, a few boys bring out their lacrosse sticks.

            Watching the sun set over that idyllic scene, I wonder, “How can heaven improve on this?”