Meire Grove Corpus Christi tradition nearing 150 years

St. John the Baptist Parish in Meire Grove has been celebrating the Feast of Corpus Christi with an annual procession since as far back as the early 1880s.

“This has been an annual event for a long as anyone can recall,” said Marvin Meyer, a lifelong member of the parish. “I have made most every procession for the last 59 years.”

The tradition continued this year, but was a bigger event than usual. To mark the 100-year anniversary of the current church building, Bishop Patrick Neary was invited to celebrate the Mass and lead the procession.

“I feel so honored to be invited to preside here at St. John the Baptist Parish at the Feast of Corpus Christi, also known as the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, and to lead the procession,” Bishop Neary said.

Bishop Patrick Neary kneels before the Blessed Sacrament in one of four chapels in the cemetery at St. John the Baptist Parish in Meire Grove June 2. (Dianne Towalski / The Central Minnesota Catholic)

During his homily Bishop Neary talked about the Eucharist being a sacrament of mission.

“When you receive Communion, you become a tabernacle of Christ, you become like the monstrance that I will be carrying in procession today,” he said. “You must now become disciples who carry Christ every moment of every day to everyone you meet, especially to those who seemingly do not know him, and to those who are suffering in any way.”

After the Mass, the Meire Grove Band led those gathered out of the church and provided music as they walked from the church to the cemetery.

“The band, the oldest continuous band in Minnesota, has always led the procession,” Marvin said. He added that because the band is going to Germany this summer they were in practice and able to perform at the reception that followed the procession.

Children followed behind the band, dropping lilac pedals along the route, with the Knights of Columbus leading the way for Bishop Neary carrying the monstrance accompanied by Father Arockiya Newton, parochial vicar of the One in Faith Area Catholic Community. In addition to St. John the Baptist, the ACC includes the parishes in Greenwald, Melrose and Spring Hill.

Bishop Neary and Father Newton stopped to pray at each of the four chapels in the cemetery. Each one represents one of the four quadrants of the parish boundaries.

The buildings are similar in size to a shed, but each houses an elaborate altar. They are maintained by descendants of the families that built them and are only opened up once a year on the Feast of Corpus Christi.

After the prayers at each chapel, a cannon was fired.

Rita Meyer, who helped plan the event, enjoyed the hospitality and the community bonding and growth that goes into an event like this.

“Bishop Neary’s and Father Newton’s prayers at each of the four chapels, as well as the final one at the top of the church steps, were spot-on, thanking our ancestors, praying for our families, encouraging more vocations …. all very good,” Rita said.

The procession happened just after the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage came through our diocese last month and Eucharistic processions are still happening all over the country leading up to the National Eucharistic Congress in July.

The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage and National Eucharistic Congress are major parts of the National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year initiative launched in 2022 by the U.S. bishops to inspire a deeper love and reverence for Jesus in the Eucharist.

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Author: Dianne Towalski

Dianne Towalski is a multimedia reporter for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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