By Christie L. Chicoine

CS&T Staff Writer

DOYLESTOWN – Attired in their first holy Communion finery, approximately 500 boys and girls from across the Archdiocese participated in an outdoor Eucharistic procession Cardinal Justin Rigali led on the feast of Corpus Christi, Sunday, June 6, at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, Bucks County.

The children, who earlier this year received the Eucharist for the first time, were resplendent as they showed their reverence for the Real Presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. {{more}}

“Dear boys and girls, I am very, very grateful to your parents for bringing you today,” said the Cardinal in his homily at the Mass that preceded the procession.

He also praised the parents for their presence. “We are united with Jesus in this wonderful sacrament of His Body and Blood.”

The first communicants, their parents and other faithful comprised the approximately 3,000 who attended the celebration, said Father Zachary W. Navit, director of the archdiocesan Office for Special Projects, which coordinated the event.

Among the communicants were the Malicka sisters of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Richboro, Bucks County, Katherine, 15, Valerie, 13, and Diana, 9. All three were adopted from Russia.

They weren’t the only sibling first communicants present. Tyler Mathews, 9, and his sister Theresa, 8, of St. William Parish in Northeast Philadelphia also attended the celebration. Tyler attends Our Lady of Confidence Day School in Willow Grove, Montgomery County; Theresa is a second-grader at St. William School.

Jennifer Oleski, a third-grader who belongs to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Limerick, Montgomery County, received her first Communion in April. She said receiving Jesus for the first time made her feel holier.

Bridgette Gomes, a third-grader at St. Joseph-St. Robert School in Warrington, Montgomery County, made her first Communion in May. “To have Jesus in your heart” is what holy Communion is all about, she said.

Christian Bickel, a second-grader at St. Mary School in Schwenksville, Chester County, also made his first Communion in April.

Accompanying him to the Corpus Christi celebration were his parents, Paul and Maggie, and 6-year-old sister Clare. “To celebrate the Most Blessed Sacrament as a community, as a whole diocese and together as a family to reiterate the importance of our faith” was a priority to the Bickels, Maggie said. The Eucharist is “the pinnacle of our faith,” she added.

As wind blew and a light rain fell, the Cardinal celebrated Benediction at four altars along the procession route on the spacious grounds of the shrine.

The Cardinal again thanked the faithful for assembling for a public act of faith in Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist.

“We go out from here with the great challenge given us by our faith to make every effort, despite our weaknesses and our human limitations, to try to live the great faith in the Eucharist, which we profess,” the Cardinal said.

“Remember, God is with us and our Blessed Mother assists us, in order that we may all be worthy disciples of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.”

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or